I visit TI's web sites a lot searching for information about the LaunchPad. Therefore, thanks to Google's omnipresent tracking, I get pop-up ads in sidebars hawking TI products. Today I got one for the "All New" MSP430 LaunchPad. I clicked on it with trepidation and was taken to a site with TI's all new lineup of development boards.
The new MSP430 Launch Pad has a soldered-in-place processor, a double row of header pins on both sides. You can find the new LaunchPad here: http://www.ti.com/tool/msp-exp430f5529lp The "All New" price is $12.99. This development is distressing for a number of reasons. It's not clear if the old LaunchPad will be discontinued. The new LaunchPad abandons the header arrangement of the old version and adopts the style of the Stellaris LaunchPad at least physically (I cannot determine if the pinout is the same). That means any booster packs designed for the old LaunchPad have a limited future.
The new LaunchPad claims to have USB and a faster clock, more I/O and a higher resolution on the analog to digital converter. However, most of these will be overkill for the simple tasks that we have on model railroads (the exception may be Dave Loman's JMRI to LaunchPad interface). For $12.99 the Stellaris LaunchPad - which features a true ARM processor - may be the better deal. The non-removable processor prevents exchanging the processor for a different type and it prevents removing a processor after programming for use on a dedicated PCB. And, while the $12.99 price is still one of the cheapest microcontroller boards around, it's a far cry from the $4.30 where the LaunchPad started.
If you search the TI site for MSP430 LaunchPad, you'll be directed to the new version. However, the old version can be ordered here:
I blasted out an order for myself (I've been using a lot of these in my LaunchPad for Model railroading clinic). I checked Mouser and Digikey who still have many in stock. I did not check Farnell or any of the overseas distributors. From how quickly these sell, I'm sure that we are not the only community building these boards into permanent projects. If you want some of the older version, I suggest that you get them now, in case the version that we know and love is discontinued.
I'm going to see if there is someone at TI to whom we can appeal to save the old LaunchPad, if indeed it is going to be discontinued. The LaunchPad design files are available, so more could be built. But this would be a capital intensive project as they would have to be built in the thousands for the price to be anywhere near $10.