Getting the Sparkfun EL Escudo to work

I’m really disappointed in Sparkfun. I recently purchased the EL Escudo shield for driving EL wire with a microcontroller, and woe be upon anybody who doesn’t do hours and hours of Internet research before plugging the thing in. There were 3 years of questions from poor customers with only a few answers, and the few answers that were there were often contradictory. Here are my conclusions from my Internet research, and the amazing Will Byrd helped me finally get it to work. Long story short, Sparkfun sets you up to fail and hasn’t fixed things in 3 years.

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Ubuntu works great with the MSP430 Launchpad

I got my MSP430 TI Launchpad more than a year ago simply because of the price. It was (and still is) $4.30 (with free shipping!) for a development board, two MSP430 microcontrollers, external crystal, and USB cable. Unfortunately, Windows was the only supported OS at launch time with a couple proprietary bundled IDEs. It still is the only officially supported OS, but setting up Ubuntu 11.10 and newer for the msp430 has become trivial:

sudo apt-get install gcc-msp430 gdb-msp430 mspdebug

To test your Launchpad, try compiling “blink” from

The build process goes something like:

msp430-gcc -Os -mmcu=msp430x2012 -o main.elf main.c
msp430-objcopy -O ihex main.elf main.hex # generate hex file
mspdebug rf2500 "prog main.hex" # download to the launchpad

Do mind your O, o, and 0.