.NET Gadgeteer

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At Maker Faire 2010 New York, the .NET Micro Framework team and Microsoft Research (Cambridge) showed off their new device: the .NET Gadgeteer. It's like LEGO for electronics. 

In this video, Colin Miller explains some of the details on the board. The board itself has a multitude of connectors, and each is labeled with a letter. A sensor is then used to tell the end user which port to plug into, and all of this allows Collin to create a basic camera using only about three lines of code!

Colin did misspeak, however. He referred to the Device Solutions board as the Embedded Fusion board. That was the old name.



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    The Discussion

    • Paul Thomsen

      Very cool - I can hardly wait. But Clint, you missed one of the most exciting points of this video when Colin (at the 1 minute point) mentions the fact that Visual Studio and .NET can be used all the way from the cloud, server, web sites, laptoops, etc. right down to small cheap devices! That is an amazing story.

    • Victor Herrera

      So cool, It means that soon we could programming drives or chips with .Net framework instead of assembler?

    • USArcher

      +1 on the cool factor.  There seems to be some interesting synergy with this, Robotics Studio, MSR's HomeOS and potentially Windows Home Server.

    • spottedmah

      I can't wait for it to go commercial.

    • Ian2

      Nice, let me know if you are looking for an early adopter!

    • .SneWs

      This is awesome. Can't wait to get my hands on this! =)

      If ther's a program for early adopters, please let me know.

    • srikalyan

      Man! This is awesome. I will be 0th in the line to get this. remember indexes in c# start with zero Smiley

    • Sadatay

      Brilliant idea and just plain sweet. Hope this rolls out soon enough.

    • PerfectPhase

      Very cool.  I realy hope that microsoft put's the spec of the interface out in the public domain.  There are so many people these days supplying breakout boards to the hobby market (such as sparkfun) it would be great if there could be a standard interface adopted between the likes of the Arduino and .NetMF boards.  You could even offer the Gadgeteer interface as an Arduino Shield to help kick start adoption.

    • Clint

      @PerfectPhase: NETMF itself is open source under Apache 2.0 AND there are open source NETMF boards like the netduino which are arduino shield compatible. for that board, there are other boards which aren't open source but are simular to the netduino like the Fez boards at

    • brett

      Clint, the Fez boards *are* open source, they give away the design files so anyone can take that as a starting point and do what they want. 
      What isn't open (at the moment) is the GHI specific port of the .Net Microframework, that's their value-add.  They call the CPUs with their code on it "USBizi" chips, that as a tinkerer you can buy at not much more than the price of the CPU itself (did anyone say "bargain" ?).  They are also doing work on opening up the GHI port, see the Fez Panda and Fez Hacker discussions on their forum.

    • PerfectPhase

      @Clint:I was meaning the hardware interconnects.  Release the interconnect standard (what pins, SPI, I2C, PWM IO etc) are on which connector type under something like the new OSHW definition.  This would be really cool if you could get others building addons.

      The real advantage to me of this over the Arduino connector layout is how easy it is to attach say three cameras to the same board.  It really makes it easy to slap some hardware together to try something out.

    • Clint

      @PerfectPhase: and the NETMF arduino compat boards don't do that?  I was using a netduino and a fez domino a few days ago with an arduino shield a few days ago

    • Clint

      @brett: I just saw they do have a firmware source out there.  This is a recent change that I wasn't aware of.  However they don't put a license on it.  Is it MIT, Apache, MS-PL, GPL, LGPL?

      Netduino gives me those vital details:  software is Apache 2.0, hardware is Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

    • Clint

      @PerfectPhase: think i just realized what you were implying.  This is a concept device right now.  The real advantage is how quickly you can mock something up and code against it.

      Could their be an arduino shield board for it, maybe.  I can ask.  Let me see if I can't get a total list of sensors / gadgets for it are.

    • magicalclick

      I am not a hardware guy, but, gosh, I may switch major if this thing is avaliable to me in the near future.

    • Jerry M

      This will be awesome.  Don't forget a Z-Wave module.

    • Mubi

      Did any one know from where can we order this board, sensors and other components for development?

    • oaktech

      I'll gladly demo this for Pittsburgh CodeCamp or Pittsburgh .NET User Group.

    • Clint

      @Mubi: can't buy it yet, trust me, I want one too

      @oaktech: Smiley

    • MrHamid

      cool stuff

    • abibaby

      Do we have an ETA when this kit will be ready? I want a few kits

    • staceyw

      You guys don't have to wait for this to get started.  Goto now and buy a $35 panda or mini.  The gadgetter connectors will make hooking things up easier, but there still is a lot of goodness to be learned on the MF today.  tinyclr sells a bunch of plug and play sensors and things already, so it is real easy (i.e. freakin ez) and you don't have to wait.  They also have a great support site and community which helps as the MF docs are slim to none.  I got 3 boards already and control a robot with .Net MF.  Easier then NXT and hooking up tons of blocks imho (but I knew c# already).  Now if I could just a c9 guy as a driver I could make a video Smiley

    • Clint

      @staceyw: Remember not everyone will have your level of understanding of items.NETMF is pretty cool and the fez boards and netduino do make a massive leap in making stuff a lot easier. 

      If I had to make a proof of concept, I think I'd opt for gadgeteer based on what I saw with Colin.  Quick and easy to iterate, code remains simple.  Then you bust out the bigger boards to once you have a design concept.

    • Randy L

      Very, very, very cool.

    • FEZzer

      Until Gadgeteer is out, FEZ Cobra is an option. FEZ Cobra uses the same core NETMF processor module, called EMX. Colin used FEZ Cobra on his bike computer
      You can find more details here 
      Gadgeteer is very exciting and I can't wait to see it available

    • Bass

      That is pretty frecken awesome. I wish I had more time to get into stuff like this.

    • rlarno

      Whow, this is exactly what is needed for people like me. I know software, but no hardware. I know Lego too Wink

      Seems like there has been great improvements since I checked on .NETMF last year. It has always been the hardware that held me back to start tinkering with it. Now, once this is available I can also see myself do a demo for the local UG. Lot's of people are still very much unaware of .NETFM. Would be cool to demo .NET Micro, Compact, Desktop/Server and Azure all in 1 demo. And all with the same IDE and ease of development.

      Waiting for spring... is it there yet? Checking.... Nope... still waiting for spring...

    • Miguel Wisintainer

      It´s not clear in the video wich processor  will use!

    • Clint

      @Miguel Wisintainer: we never stated what it runs.  Why would that matter to you other than how fast it is?

    • clamont2

      I hope there is support for the Kinect

      Just imagine how awesome it would be to create the embedded "clapper" using this board?

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