Login [Register]
Don't have an account? Register now to chat, post, use our tools, and much more.
Hands-On with the TI-Innovator
Published by merthsoft on September 20, 2016 at 7:27:36 PM CST | Discuss this article (15)

Last week I found a TI-Innovatorô Bundle for sale and figured I'd pick it up to play with it. I wanted to post my thoughts on this device as a programmer, and as a TI calculator enthusiast. If you're not familiar with the TI-Innovator, it's a box containing a TI MSP432 Launchpad development board, loaded with a custom firmware, that you can connect to your calculator. The upshot is that it's an educator-friendly way to teach students about coding and electronics, something of a more formal version of our popular ArTICL library to explore electronics projects with Arduinos and TI calculators. It consists of the TI-Innovator hub itself, connected to your TI-84 Plus CE or TI-Nspire CX calculator, and can be expanded with two accessory kits from TI. The I/O Module Pack contains a servo, vibration motor, light sensor, and white LED for TI's "Science Through Engineering Design" activities, while the Breadboard Pack contains discrete electronic components and a breadboard for the Path to STEM Projects activities.

I will say, right out of the box, it's a very nice looking device. It's fairly a fairly straight-forward process to get started with. I updated the software on my CE, installed the app, plugged it in, and wrote a quick blinking program:
Wait 1
Wait 1

And, viola, a blinking light!

I will say, right out of the box, this is a joy to program. One of the things I love about programming calcs is the ease of getting in to it. There's a simple menu interface so you don't need to remember every keyword, and it's easy to just explore and make something happen. This holds true for the Innovator Hub, as well. I knew right away that this would be a great way to get kids to play with electronics and learn how to program.

After the blinking light, I wanted to do something a little more complex. I had a lot of things I could play with with the bundle, but wanted to keep it just using the Hub for now. So, the next thing I figured I'd do was make some sound. This is where I ran into my first error, and boy does the hub let you know something went wrong:

The problem was I was doing Send("SET SOUND F to try to send a sound of frequency F. This doesn't work--it doesn't know about the variables on the calculator. This was fixed with Send("SET SOUND eval(F. And I had a chromatic scale playing:
Send("SET SOUND eval(F

Again, I found this great fun. I noticed when playing the music, that the RBG LED was blinking, and then made a little program to cycle between the lights. At first I thought there would be many colors, but I think that each can only be on or off. This is where I learned that you can use 0 for off and 1 for on. This makes programming a little easier when you're doing on and off programmatically. I don't have a video of that, because it's not terribly exciting. Note: I have since learned from this page that you can do more with the on-board RGB LED. The lesson here: Always read docs.

However, this made me want to play with the RGB LED that comes with the breadboard kit. This reminded me why I didn't pursue electronics any further in my studies: I dislike dealing with and hooking up all these components. I got it all hooked up, but will admit that I couldn't figure out how to program it. It would be nice if the instructions booklet had more details on how to do things. That said, I decided instead to make a counter using the seven segment display.

The display that comes with the bundle is an LTS-4301JR. I looked up the datasheet to hook it up, and again couldn't figure out the code. That's when I found this page which has lots of useful information for hooking up these kits, and I got it working.

At this point I had had enough with electronics components and breadboards, so I figured I'd play with some of the other kits that came in the bundle. The range finder seemed like it would be fun, so I made a little program that translated range to frequency, and made a little fake Theremin:

Overall, I have to say I'm quite impressed with this. Out of the box, with just the hub, you can do some pretty fun things. I wish the Hub itself had some built-in inputs--maybe the buttons on the board can be read from the calc if you take off the cover. I'd like to experiment more with the built-in stuff. There are some buttons and some jumpers.

Having simple inputs and outputs is really nice for getting people up and running with some fund things right away, and having the more complicated breadboard stuff makes it so you can basically do anything with the calculator driving. I think this is a great way to get kids into programming, and I look forward to seeing what teachers and TI do with it in the future! If you have any questions about using the TI-Innovator or want us to try some experiments with ours, please don't hesitate to ask.

2016 Articles
January 2016 January 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: December 2015 published January 1, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Cemetech Contest #15, Challenge 4 published January 5, 2016 by KermMartian
» Consumer Electronics Show 2016 - A Brief Review published January 12, 2016 by Alex
» Cemetech Contest #15, Challenge 5 published January 13, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI and NASA Announce "mISSion imaginaTIon" published January 15, 2016 by KermMartian
» Graph3DC 1.0 Open Beta 2 published January 18, 2016 by KermMartian
» Light-Based Whack-a-Mole Powered by TI-84+CSE and MSP432 published January 21, 2016 by KermMartian
» Graph3DC 1.0: 3D Grapher for TI-84 Plus C SE Released published January 26, 2016 by KermMartian
» Mateo Does it Again - C SDK, Libraries, and LibLoad published January 30, 2016 by pimathbrainiac

February 2016 February 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: January 2016 published February 2, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Cemetech Contest #15 Results and Winners published February 4, 2016 by KermMartian
» ArTICL SimpleI/O Demo: LEDs, Buttons, Switches, and a Motor published February 11, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech User Promotions: New Moderators and more! published February 12, 2016 by Alex
» TI-Nspire OS 4.2, NASA "Fuel for the Fire" Activity published February 18, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI-Nspire CX OS 4.2, mISSion imaginaTIon, and More! published February 19, 2016 by pimathbrainiac
» Cemetech Returns to T^3 2016 in New Role published February 22, 2016 by KermMartian
» SourceCoder 3 RC 1: TI-84+CE C Programming, More published February 23, 2016 by KermMartian
» Presenting Learn @ Cemetech published February 25, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech at T^3 International Conference 2016 published February 29, 2016 by KermMartian

March 2016 March 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: February 2016 published March 1, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Sneak Peek at Upcoming TI-BASIC Features published March 2, 2016 by elfprince13
» Cemetech Contest #16: Chatty Cyborgs published March 2, 2016 by jonbush
» Happy Pi Day 2016 published March 14, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI-BASIC Optimization Competition published March 16, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech Minecraft 1.9 Intellectual Survival Easter Launch published March 27, 2016 by KermMartian
» Checkers, Game of Life Grace TI-84 Plus CE published March 28, 2016 by KermMartian

April 2016 April 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Doors CS 7 Source Code Released published April 1, 2016 by KermMartian
» GPU Technology Conference 2016 published April 5, 2016 by Alex
» TI-84 Plus CE Minesweeper Released published April 8, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI Teases New TI-84 Plus CE Colors: Gold, ??? published April 19, 2016 by KermMartian

May 2016 May 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» New TI-84 Plus CE Colors: White and Gold published May 10, 2016 by KermMartian
» Planned Cemetech Downtime: May 21st, 2016 published May 18, 2016 by Alex
» Projects of the Month: April 2016 published May 10, 2016 by tifreak8x
» May 22 Server Events: Scavenger Hunt, Border Expansion published May 22, 2016 by KermMartian

June 2016 June 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: May 2016 published June 7, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Cemetech Contest #17: On Rails published June 20, 2016 by jonbush
» ticalc.org Turns 20 published June 22, 2016 by tifreak8x
» White and Gold TI-84 Plus CE Calculators Now Available published June 24, 2016 by KermMartian

July 2016 July 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: June 2016 published July 11, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Coming Soon: The TI-Innovator System published July 16, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech to Cover SIGGRAPH 2016 published July 24, 2016 by KermMartian
» Hands-On with the Gold TI-84 Plus CE (2016) published July 29, 2016 by KermMartian

August 2016 August 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» PT_ Releases ICE - An Interpreter/Compiler of CE-BASIC published August 6, 2016 by pimathbrainiac
» STEM and Exploring Mars: A Chat with Z. Nagin Cox of NASA published August 10, 2016 by KermMartian
» Projects of the Month: July 2016 published August 12, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Win TI-84 Plus CEs with Photos of Math for the Win published August 13, 2016 by KermMartian
» SIGGRAPH 2016 Highlights: Basketball with OptiTrack published August 16, 2016 by elfprince13
» Clouttery: Manage All Your Devices' Batteries Effortlessly published August 19, 2016 by KermMartian
» Back to School 2016: What Graphing Calculator Should I Buy? published August 26, 2016 by KermMartian
» OS 5.2 for the TI-84 Plus CE: New TI-BASIC Commands published August 31, 2016 by KermMartian

September 2016 September 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: August 2016 published September 4, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Hands-On with the TI-Innovator published September 20, 2016 by merthsoft
» Cemetech Going to World Maker Faire 2016 for 5th Year published September 26, 2016 by KermMartian

October 2016 October 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Cemetech at World Maker Faire 2016 Recap published October 8, 2016 by KermMartian
» Projects of the Month: September 2016 published October 17, 2016 by tifreak8x

November 2016 November 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: October 2016 published November 11, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Unboxing the TI-Innovator Hub and Breadboard Pack published November 25, 2016 by KermMartian

December 2016 December 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» ticalc.org PotY 2016 Voting Begins published December 6, 2016 by KermMartian
» Contest #18: Winter Wonderland published December 18, 2016 by jonbush
» PT_ Promoted to Global Moderator published December 23, 2016 by KermMartian
» Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and New Year from Cemetech published December 25, 2016 by KermMartian
» 2016 ticalc.org PotY Results Announced published December 30, 2016 by PT_