The board is pretty unique if we compare with other vendor’s starter kits. Modern evaluation boards are always bare PCBs with only necessary elements: MCU itself, debugger, couples of LEDs and button(s) if you are lucky.
Gecko series starter kits are full featured development kit, which content a lot of functionality besides this bare minimum:
I have old Giant Gecko starter kit, so let’s compare what changed in two generations of STKs:
First what I’ve noticed is that board became a little bit bigger. Now there are two 16 pin rows on upper and lower edge of the board with 32x2=64 pins total on breakouts instead of 22x2=44 pins total on older boards.
New board have two 1.27mm JTAG headers instead of one 2.54mm on older board. All headers are 20 pin standard. One is marked as DBG and another is not marked at all, schematics don’t know about it either. Lets just call it “Mysterious Header”
No light and LC sense on board because there is no LE sense on Happy Gecko.
No NAND Flash, because there is no NAND controller on such small device.
No OPAMP footprint as there is no OPAMP in HG. No backup domain with super cup also.
Expansion header is the same but on new board all pins are marked on the back side which is very useful.
MCU’s USB port is moved to the right and not covers breakout pins anymore which good too.
Segment LCD replaces with crispy graphics one.
My conclusion is that as 3 years before it’s best quality and feature vice starter kit with some usability improvements. Of course some Giant’s features are missed but hey, Happy Gecko is tiny MCU and the kit expose all it’s features. With new price point of $30 ridiculously cheap, even cheaper than J-Link EDU. Also I miss SWD 2.54mm header on this board, which was really helpfull.
1 Getting started
First, download new Simplicity Studio 3.1: https://www.silabs.com/products/mcu/Pages/simplicity-studio.aspx
Than connect HG-STK and SS will download and install all documentation, examples and software you need. After installation click demo button. It’s a good place to start playing with new kit, in few clicks you can run some fun demos and check system current consumption. My favorite is analog watch demo, there are also a lot of ready to use USB classes which is great.
Than I recommend to check MBED web page: https://developer.mbed.org/
You should register and add your board, then you’ll get access to online IDE with a lot of build-in libraries which are good for beginners or for prototyping.
Last but not least check University Program button in SS.
In my opinion it’s the best way to learn EFMs and one of the best for MCUs in general.
It’s very dense materials with presentations and hands-on examples about everything to start. I wish I have this materials when I started to learn MCU and coding.
The next step is to start a pet project and read application notes for specific peripherals and use cases.