Getting started with the MSP

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The Hardware

An MSP consists of an iMote2, an MSB, a miniSD card, and optionally, a GPS unit, WiFi dongle, or LSB. If your MSP is not pre-assembled, you'll need to follow these directions to assemble your MSP.

The iMote2

The iMote2 should be preloaded with Linux, configured to automatically load the MSP software off of the SD card. If this is not the case, you'll need to grab the latest system images and flash them onto the iMote2. Unfortunately, with Intel's sale of the PXA line to Marvell, the tools used to reflash the iMote2 are difficult to obtain.


The MSB should be preloaded with the MSB firmware and the Bluetooth chip flashed and configured. If this is not the case, you'll need to follow these directions.

The Software

MSP System Software

Below is a summary of commonly-used software that runs on the MSP, with links to the reference page for each program. Other MSP system programs are documented here.

  • msb-server is a program which interfaces with the MSB via the serial port and handles logging of uwar files and transmission of the sensor data over IPC and other shared memory mechanisms.
  • logger is a program which integrates MSB, LSB, GPS, and Camera data into a single UWAR stream. It must be used if you're collecting data in the UWAR format with anything but the MSB.
  • central is the server for the IPC (Inter Process Communications) package developed by Reid Simmons. IPC provides a simple means of communicating between applications on the same computer and other machines via TCP/IP. Central is used by the msb-server and several other applications to share information.
  • proccontrol is a program which launches and monitors all of the other processes involved in the MSP data collection.

Data Processing Software

Below is a summary of commonly-used software that processes the UWAR files produced by the MSP.

  • uwarToMatlab is a program that can be used to process and combine multiple .uwar files into more usable output formats, including Matlab data files, WAV and JPEG files, and GPS data streams.
  • uwar_info will display the meta data stored in the uwar file, such as the sensor sampling rates and the time/date of the data collection.
  • uwar_cat is a program to extract data from uwar files and dump them in a human-readable, ASCII format.

Collecting Data

Your first data collection

Collecting data with the MSP is easy:

  1. Plug in the MSP to the charger until the amber charging LED is no longer solid.
  2. Copy the latest SD card image to your miniSD card.
  3. Insert the miniSD card into the unit.
  4. Press the power button on the MSP. You may need to use a pen or similar object to press the button.
  5. Wait for the logger to start. When it starts, the LEDs on the MSB will all turn on, and then go back to just green.
  6. Collect data.
  7. Press the power button down for at least five seconds. The MSP will shut down after another 5-10 seconds.
  8. Remove the miniSD card and move (not copy) the files in the msp-data directory to your computer.

If you have Matlab, you can import the data into it:

  1. Use uwarToMatlab to extract the data from the UWAR files in the msp-data directory.
  2. Import the resulting .mat files into Matlab.

Otherwise, you can use uwar_cat to generate a text dump of the sensor readings.

Customizing the data collection

If you need to collect data at different sampling rates, simply edit the msb.ini file in the msp directory on the miniSD card. More information on how to edit the msb.ini file is available here.