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The Stellaris Launch Pad: A $13 single-board computer

The Stellaris Launch Pad: A $13 single-board computer

First it was the Raspberry Pi for $25 and now comes the Stellaris which also helps with computer design

November 30th, 2012 by Daryl Nelson of ConsumerAffairs in News

We recently reported on the $25 Raspberry Pi computer that teaches people computer design, which has been the rave among those interested in coding and learning how a computer works from the inside out.

Well, now the folks at Texas Instruments have released their version of the single-board computer by way of the Stellaris Launch Pad, which is similar to the Raspberry Pi in shape and function but only costs $13, which has made techies who are interested in fiddling with the inside of computers extremely happy.

As electronic gear becomes more and more ingrained into our everyday lives, many believe schools have done a poor job teaching children how to design computers and build hardware from the ground up.

The Stellaris Launch Pad helps you do just that, and although it's only a single-board computer and doesn't come with a screen or keyboard,  it can still be connected to a desktop or laptop by its USB port to take on some of the functions of a regular computer, but it doesn't allow you full computer use like the Raspberry Pi.  

But to use the Launch Pad like a traditional computer isn't really the point here, as the main purpose of the device is to give people an inexpensive way to experiment and conduct a good bit of trial and error while learning computer design.

The specs

The specs of the Launch Pad include an onboard USB in-circuit debug interface, a Micro AB USB device port, and 3 user LEDs among other features. There's also a software application that shows users how to code and program the Launch Pad from a Linux box.

The $13 computer comes with a series of tutorials, like how to start a new Code Composer Studio project, and an introduction to Stellaris' Data Sheets and User's Guides. The tutorials also show you how to import certain codes if you happen to be a novice at computer design.

Not for everyone

Now of course the Stellaris Launch Pad won't be for everybody, as everyday device users probably won't care much for a computer that doesn't really function like a full-fledged computer, but many in the hacking world should be excited over this release, as the Launch Pad is yet another instrument like the Cubieboard and the Mini X that appeals to the group of consumers who may want to build their own computers one day.

The era of the single-board computer has also given opportunities for those children or nations that may not be able to afford high-end electronics and may be able to build their own device at a cheaper cost.

Now before you go and purchase the Launch Pad as a holiday gift--especially for a child--you should make sure they're interested in computer design first, and want to use the board for that purpose.  Just buying the Stellaris because its $13 and trying to get regular computer use out of it, shouldn't be your primary motivation.

But if you do pick one up they shouldn't be too hard to find, as the Stellaris, can be purchased at both online and retail stores.