Microsoft’s attempt at an Arduino killer — feels like a gimmick

Microsoft has thrown its hat into the open source hardware hobby market. Their offering is called the Gadgeteer. We’d love to tell you all about it, but the big M didn’t make it very easy to find out about the device and it’s addons. When we set out to find what processor is running on the board we were happy to see that they do call it an Open Source Hardware project, but no schematic is posted. When we did finally navigate to the hardware documentation it’s a file that must be downloaded and you’ve got to agree to their licensing before grabbing it. So that’s as far as we went, and now we’ll go back to using more open tools.

For those of you who aren’t scared off by the lack of openness, the first thing you’ll notice about this board is that it’s full of connector headers. Instead of the small rows that Arduino uses, the Gadgeteer is meant to use ribbon cables to connect to various breakout boards. You can program for the platform in C# using the .NET framework. This means using Microsoft Visual Studio for those that are already acquainted with the platform. But regular readers will note that we’re always looking for Linux support in our IDEs and you won’t find that here.

[Thanks Hrasdt (and several others) via Slashdot]

Comments

  1. Akoi Meexx says:

    Does it interface with their thriving Zune product line? :p

    Can’t say as I’d pick one of these up any time soon. Too little too late, Microsoft.

  2. jeremiah says:

    A lot of things seem like a gimmick at first. This will be just as valid of a dev board as any other, to some people.

    I think the idea of the ribbons is much smarter than the piggyback style the Arduino adopted, btw. you’re forced into a specific form factor with the Arduino, whereas this one lets you lay things out as you like. I’m sure there are other, better features as well.

    If Microsoft wants to send me one of these, I’d be more than happy to evaluate it for them :)

  3. Twerpling says:

    Hack a day hatin’ on a development board. That’s new.

    Also I was under the impression that this was some re-branded FEZ type board which does have the Arduino form factor. I wonder what this means for the Netduino?

  4. DanJ says:

    I saw this. I’m not I’m the target market (don’t program in .net) but in my opinion, the more development systems the better. Lots of people write .net applications. Now they can take that skill and apply it to gadgets. Software seems to be under the Apache license and hardware under the Creative Commons license. That’s relative goodness.

    This device seems to fulfill a niche above the typical C-ish dev boards. I’m guessing the .net framework is pretty feature rich and can be used for some capable projects. Is it self-serving for Microsoft. Yes in that it promotes development in .net. Does that make it a bad thing for people who can use the feature set of this device? No.

  5. maxiking says:

    No Linux support?! Microsoft, you mad?

  6. jeremiah says:

    I should also note that the .net micro framework is indeed open source.

    I also found the CPU used in one click. http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/269

    • DanJ says:

      Nice set of features. Lots of memory, built-in support for a full TCP/IP stack, Wifi, ethernet, USB host, 10-bit analog out, double-precision floating-point, FAT filesystem plus the usual sets of peripherals.

    • RooTer says:

      still not exactly the cheapest or the most open platform …

      Well, nice they try. Also isn’t that more like IO extender card for computer running c# ?

    • Trollicus says:

      No MS has never released the DRM stack. While the source code is still available it wasn’t released GPL so MS still holds the rights and they reserve the right to revoke them at any time for any reason.

      The only thing you have is a promise from MS to play nice. As they have a long repeated history of embrace extend eliminate I’m not going to fall into yet another MS trap.

      Fool me once shame on you, fool me 12839*e^42 times shame on us all!

      • jeremiah says:

        There is no “DRM stack” in the .net micro framework. The .net micro framework is different than the traditional .net framework, which is indeed not fully open source.

        the .net micro framework source code can be downloaded in its entirety from netmf.codeplex.com and it’s licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

        this is my last comment on the matter. it’s okay to have an opinion, but don’t base that opinion on incorrect information.

  7. MattQ says:

    While Microsoft is an easy punching bag, I’m kind of interested in seeing how this turns out. As for being only able to use Visual Studio, that’s fine for me. While I don’t like being pigeon holed in to one dev environment, I really only do my arduino work on a Windows PC anyway. If they can do a nice 32 bit processor on their dev board, this will be something to be excited about. I can’t wait to see the ribbon cable nightmares that this thing breeds.

    Oh, and isn’t HAD breaking it’s own “being nice” policy by bashing on the project without even reading the documentation first? :)

  8. YT2095 says:

    It gets a firm *NO THANKS* from me.
    Not even if it was Free!

  9. Keegan says:

    More info here:

    http://www.netmf.com/gadgeteer/

    The boards aren’t being sold as an Arduino killer, it’s an educational tool. It’s also made by Microsoft partners rather than MS themselves. The first is by Fez of Domino fame.

    The Netduino however is aimed at the Arduino crowd:
    http://www.netduino.com

  10. pt says:

    if they say “open source hardware” they need to provide the schematics and board files in some way, i looked all over the site and it’s not there (yet?).

  11. Hackman238 says:

    http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/269

    * 72MHz. 32-bit ARM7 processor
    * 4.5 MB Flash
    * 16 MB RAM
    * LCD controller
    * Full TCP/IP Stack with SSL, HTTP, TCP, UDP, DHCP
    * Ethernet, WiFi driver and PPP ( GPRS/ 3G modems) and DPWS
    * USB host
    * USB Device with specialized libraries to emulate devices like thumb-drive, virtual COM (CDC), mouse, keyboard
    * 76 GPIO Pin
    * 2 SPI (8/16bit)
    * I2C
    * 4 UART
    * 2 CAN Channels
    * 7 10-bit Analog Inputs.
    * 10-bit Analog Output (capable of WAV audio playback)
    * 4-bit SD/MMC Memory card interface
    * 6 PWM
    * OneWire interface (available on any IO).
    * Built-in Real Time Clock (RTC) with the suitable crystal
    * Processor register access
    * OutputCompare for generating waveforms with high accuracy
    * RLP allowing users to load native code (C/Assembly) for real-time requirements.
    * Extended double-precision math class
    * FAT File System
    * Cryptography (AES and XTEA)
    * Low power and hibernate support
    * In-field update (from SD, network or other)

    • Hmm. It seems to be enough to port uCLinux on it ;).

    • Well it seems to be based around this board:

      (On the images at the provided link the CPU’s name was made unreadable.. strange)

      The heart is an LPC2478 from the NXP. After some googling, I have found several demo boards based around this SOC running uclinux. According to the forum talks this platform was pretty trendy around 2008-2009 between the embedded Linux rasper guys.

      So the M$ came out with a 2 years old stuff, and marketing it as newness. Cool.

  12. Max says:

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    I kind of like the modularity and theoretical ease of use but I don’t think this will kill the Arduino unless it’s cheap.

    • jaspel says:

      If they do like ti and offer it for $5, I’d order one.

    • Pr0methius says:

      $ 119.95 for the main board.

    • Pr0methius says:

      I saw this, went to the Gadgeteer site, and my first thought was “this isn’t an arduino killer.”

      It’s just too expensive – $120 for the main board alone.

      But, then I looked at the specs, and it hit me – this board isn’t supposed to kill the arduino, it’s supposed to replace a MicroITX motherboard for projects that require some real computing power.

      A 72 Mhz ARM processor isn’t terribly fast, but couple that with the device’s USB host library, a USB hard drive, and a DAC (or sound card, etc) and it would make a very decent car stereo computer. If I wasn’t broke pretty much all of the time, I would buy one to use as a car computer, so I can listen to my MP3’s wherever I go.

    • Pr0methius says:

      I saw this, went to the Gadgeteer site, and my first thought was “this isn’t an arduino killer.”

      It’s just too expensive – $120 for the main board alone.

      But, then I looked at the specs, and it hit me – this board isn’t supposed to kill the arduino, it’s supposed to replace a MicroITX motherboard for projects that require some real computing power.

      A 72 Mhz ARM processor isn’t terribly fast, but couple that with the device’s USB host library, a USB hard drive, and a DAC (or sound card, etc) and it would make a very decent car stereo computer. If I wasn’t broke pretty much all of the time, I would buy one to use as a car computer, so I can listen to my MP3’s wherever I go. :)

      I think it’s a pretty good intermediate board.

  13. Munch says:

    If this isn’t worth writing about, why write anything at all? Slow news day?

  14. Truth says:

    Looks like the .NET Gadgeteer has an ARM processor
    ref: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/gadgeteer-080111.aspx

    But the .NET and Microsoft would cause me to do a 180° turn from it. Who knows maybe it can be hacked to run more open software. But I do like the ribbon connections to bluetooth, RJ-45, GPS, WiFi, camera, LED/LCD display modules.

    But if the board ends up just being an ARM processor, a bit of RAM and a few generic interfaces I don’t see what it brings to the table that is new.

  15. Squintz says:

    NETMF is great for C# programmers with no embedded experience. IMO it serves the same educational purpose as an Arduino. It provides an easy to use platform to prototype. We’ve played with the Netduino at Harford Hackerspace and even held a class to teach others about the Netduino. A member of ours was pretty happy using the Netduino hardware without NETMF. Using it with NETMF added way too much overhead for the blinky projects we were trying to use it for.

    I imagine this board has the same issues as the Netduino but at the same time it has it’s own purpose on earth. That purpose is to help C# programmers get started with embedded hardware.

  16. JD says:

    I know it’s cool to hate and all… but you should clarify that this doesn’t come from Microsoft. It’s just featured on their community page.

    It’s from GHI (see @jeremiah’s comment), the people who make FEZ boards that are more similar to Arduino. This thing (and the FEZ stuff) just runs the .NET Micro Framework, which DOES come from Microsoft and IS open source (http://netmf.codeplex.com/). In that way, it’s no different from Netduino (http://www.netduino.com/). You’re right about Visual Studio, C#, etc… but it’s free and a decent set of dev/debugging tools. There’s no reason someone couldn’t create a different set of tools that runs on their platform of choice.

    • pt says:

      i emailed microsoft since they are listed as the contact info: “Contact the Gadgeteer team at gadgeteer@microsoft.comhttp://netmf.com/gadgeteer/about.html

      the open source hardware community is inclusive and i think this is a good thing, lower cost dev boards with open source (in some way). i’d like them to clarify if it’s actually “open source hardware” – so i emailed them.

      the netduino is open source hardware for sure btw.

      • JD says:

        @pt … it’ll be interesting to see what they say on this. It’s clear from the GHI site that they’re making and distributing the hardware here. Maybe the GHI product is an implementation of a Microsoft “Gadgeteer” hardware reference design? If that’s the case, it’d be really nice to see them make the open source-ness crystal clear.

  17. joesugar says:

    Not sure how I feel about this. While I’m happy to see another Micro Framework development board I don’t believe Microsoft has a very good record when it comes to hardware production. Considering the number of shields currently available, standardized form factor, and the experience I’ve already built up using them, I think I’ll stick with the Netduino and my FEZ Domino.

  18. therin says:

    that a lot of IO ports , but I hate C# and .net

  19. sam says:

    No linux support, no interest from me.

  20. Paul says:

    I thought we weren’t allowed to be negative on HAD any more. Don’t knock the hardware, man.

  21. ian says:

    I played with this a bit back when it was still in their research division..

    Yes, it is crap. Fine if you’re a C# addict, but… you should probably go to rehab and then buy a TI Launchpad.

    • blue carbuncle says:

      How did you get a hold of it? Is there anything else in the Research Division’s pipeline that looks better than this that we should look out for?
      thx :)

  22. … $119.95 for the board itself?

    Yeah right such an Arduino killer. I can get 6 Arduinos on Ebay for that price. Or I could buy 3 Netduinos, or even a Netduino Plus.

    – MICROSOFT –
    – YOU FAIL -

    • Alex says:

      There’s a lot of incorrect information here.. A casual glance at the site shows that it’s running a 72MHz ARM 7, which really puts it in a different league. Also, as noted above, it’s not a microsoft product.

      • Zizzle says:

        You can get 72MHz Arm Cortex M3 boards on ebay for $25.

        Sure with less RAM/Flash, but if you aren’t running a bloated virtual machine you don’t need megabytes.

    • charliex says:

      @zizzle, price up the cost of the arduino plus all the shields that give you the same feature set.

      • Zizzle says:

        Couldn’t the same be said for this though?

        $120 gets you a board that doesn’t actually do anything.

        “FEZ Spider Mainboard requires at least one of the poer modules (Red module) such as USB Client DP Module or better, it is recommended that you get FEZ Spider Starter Kit”

        Starter kit is $250. Ouch.

      • Zizzle says:

        So all the connectors are the same form factor (IDE) but have different functionality/pin outs. Seems like a recipe for fail.

        Accidentally plug your new spider leg into the wrong port and let the blue smoke out?

      • charliex says:

        @zizzle, I don’t think it could fairly, the cpu’s are in different leagues for instance. But a lot of the stuff is built into the CPU, the LPC’s are great. Whereas pretty much everything outside basic io on an arduino is on a shield.

        lcd’s, touchscreen, 10 bit dac,can bus, i2c, spi, ethernet, usb host, sd card

        Its still an ARM so you can do native code, not just C# and there are lots of native libs too.

      • Zizzle says:

        I don’t think anyone is arguing about the performance differences, just comparing value.

        This board is pricey.

        For the same money you can get something much more powerful:

        http://www.friendlyarm.net/products/mini6410

      • charliex says:

        @zizzle, i was comparing cost to the arduino +shields. cpu performance is also linked to cost, but yes the arduino isn’t comparable here.

        the cost of an arduino + shields to match what the arm dev boards is either higher, or comparable.

        but we seem to be saying the same thing, there are lots and lots of better options than the arduino.

        with the gfi you are definitely paying for the software support from them.

        i have a couple of those friendly arm boards too, they’re not bad at all, but there are just loads of arm dev boards and cheap knockoffs.

        chumby hacker board is also pretty decent.

        i like the lpc1768 too

        http://cgi.ebay.com/NXP-LPC1768-ARM-Development-Board-3-2-TFT-LCD-Module-/170671925020?pt=BI_Electrical_Equipment_Tools&hash=item27bcd6e71c#ht_2791wt_905

    • Sorry for the incorrect reference to Microsoft then, just glanced through the comments and took my stand based on the title.

      Anyway. So you say that you can’t compare two things unless they are exactly the same?

      I know an Arduino is weaker. But if I can get 6 of them for the price of this guy, I’m maybe not able to drive the biggest or fastest touchscreen application but I can still do a hell lot of stuff with 6 Arduinos. Even if I only bought 3 I would have about $60 left for sensors/shields. Which is also really cheap on Ebay. (All these prices including shipping worldwide).

      If we exclude shipping, so you can get two Netduinos Plus from Sparkfun for that price!

      http://www.netduino.com/netduinoplus/specs.htm

      They have some Beef, and run the .NET Micro Framework to.

  23. ENKI-][ says:

    The C#/.Net thing certainly doesn’t factor out developers on Linux — common runtime has has good Linux support for a very long time, as has C#. But, if it costs a hundred bucks I certainly won’t be investing in it.

    The use of ribbon cables (if they are in fact standard ribbon cable headers and will fit standard COTS ribbon cables) is nice, though. I wish my arduino had ribbon cable connectors rather than rows of strangely spaced sockets. If they were IDE-style ribbon cable headers (complete with the ‘key’ hole missing-pin) that would be even better, now that the push towards SATA has begun in earnest and I’m having a hard time finding newly minted IDE disks.

  24. svofski says:

    At first I was going to cheer for something that would finally kill Arduino. But then I was kinda meh… Their youtube demos are especially sad.

  25. charliex says:

    I have some of the older GHI dev boards from last year, they’re really decent with a lot of feature support. You also do native on them.

    I also prefer the ribbon cables over the non standard arduino ones, the arduino form factor really limits the design.

    Microsoft has some excellent hardware btw, mice, keyboards, consoles.

  26. Randy says:

    Haven’t checked for sure, but those look an *awful* lot like 1.27mm headers, which won’t be the friendliest for attaching your own hardware. Nice to see Microsoft promoting embedded development, but I’m getting a strong feeling of Star Wars Lego-like limited-purpose dev tools. The fact that you need their compatible modules to actually do anything with this $120 board is kind of nasty.

    Having said that, I’m all for a dev kit that has SSL support in its networking stack. Having looked around for that a bit lately, it’s not as common as one would hope. I could also get into a lot of trouble with 4.5 MB of Flash and 16 MB of RAM…

  27. zuul says:

    i like the modular design but way too expensive

  28. Doktor Jeep says:

    Why does anything have to “kill” anything – just another tool on the shelf and we should be happy to have free markets about to provide us choices to fit our needs.

  29. BiOzZ says:

    nice try microsoft … but … no

    i like designs i can take from prototype and shove it in a handy PCB not just buy a $150 board with stupid connectors every time i want to make somthign else XD

    i get the rapid prototyping design i do but i think that would be a better option on a breakout board for a stamp like platform

    this is nothing but a rebranded NXP LPC247BFET208 and some flash and a fancy .net framework bootloader
    if you want rapid prototyping i suggest the mbed i love mine than move on from there to an LPCExpresso or some other cheap arm platform in final design (LPC expresso uses an LPC1114(302 or 301) arm cortex M0 … i love it … they also come in M3 and M7 options

  30. scott says:

    Why doesn’t Microsoft come up with its own ideas instead of trying to choke-out and take-over other peoples ideas!? Maybe if they spent their time trying to develop original uses for technology they wouldn’t have so many half-a$$ copy-cat products lol

  31. zacdee16 says:

    It just seems stupid to introduce open source hardware but make everything hard to reach. Microsoft should just stick to OS design.

  32. justin says:

    MY first problem with this is you need to buy a module just to have it work

    “Note: FEZ Spider Mainboard requires at least one of the po[w]er modules (Red module) such as USB Client DP Module or better, it is recommended that you get FEZ Spider Starter Kit.”

    which is another $25, I shouldn’t have to buy another module just to program and power my dev board, power and programing ability should have been built in.
    second I cant find any place that says this hardware is open source, other then the API and hardware modules and some software. It is a step in the right direction, but far from truly open source.

  33. Paul Potter says:

    I think this is a good idea, and could take off with those wanting to get into making their own gadgets, and are used to Windows.

    Arcade machine example:

  34. pt says:

    a fellow named erich responded in the adafruit comments re: open hardware files.

    Update: “This quote from Gus@GHI: All FEZ boards are open source so far. As for FEZ Spider, I do not see why not, but GHI is still clearing out some final details before release or doing anything in that area.””

    EricH in the comments also says “The boards aren’t generally available until 9/30 (you can preorder now), so I’m assuming from that comment they are getting all their ducks in a row before publishing the files.”

    http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2011/08/03/microsoft-net-gadgeteer-open-hardware/

    this seems fair to me, once the boards ship or close to after they’re going to post the files.

  35. qwerty says:

    I won’t comment on the choice of C#/.NET as criticizing has become verboten here, and my stance on it would nonetheless be pretty obvious and identical on the Java one of other platforms.

    Anyway, the name of the project brought to mind a link I have bookmarked in the past:

    http://the-gadgeteer.com/

    Unless they’re run by Microsoft itself, let’s see what happens now.

    BTW, the ribbon choice is a winning feature, much better than the Arduino approach, but there are much finer solutions out there like the Mikroe dev systems: http://www.mikroe.com/eng/products/view/321/easyavr6-development-system/

    • Christopher Naeyaert says:

      The guy I spoke with also said you aren’t limited to C# if you wanted to roll your own way, but C# was their implementation of choice for their libraries, etc. He also said you had the capability to write C routines and call those from C# (but that might be a feature of .net versus anything else?)

    • Gene says:

      Much finer? I suppose that depends entirely on your needs. That board you linked is priced the same and has a pile of nice integrated peripherals, but utilizing AVRs, is not in the same league in terms of compute power. And if I didn’t need most of those peripherals, I’d see it only as an under-powered, over-priced, physically huge board that doesn’t fit my application.

      • qwerty says:

        Of course that is a development board; I have the PIC version and it’s superb along with their compilers, I was comparing the two solutions from a development point of view.
        Multiple solutions are available for the processor board alone; the Microsoft one would be also interesting if it wasn’t so ridiculously expensive and they supported development in C.
        In some contexts hacking is a no-no, and support from the manufacturer is mandatory, that is, if Microsoft doesn’t support development in C it doesn’t matter if the board runs happily code compiled, say, with gcc for avr anyway: if the maker doesn’t support C you won’t write in C. Sad but true.

        To the HAD team: I accidentally hit the “report comment” link of the parent post when replying. That of course was a mistake. Maybe a “are you sure” popup requester would be advisable.
        I will report this reply as well to signal them about the mistake. Apologies.

  36. Chris Naeyaert says:

    I talked to GHI electronics at Maker Faire Detroit this past weekend, and they were all super friendly, and were showing a lot of neat stuff. THey had a special there, to buy their adruino-esque Panda board for $20 (sells on their site for $34) the Panda and Panda II boards are arduino shield compatible, and remind me of the boards from seeed studio. I would say these are much more in line with the arduino boards, but also contain the same cpu, etc. I think it will be a pretty neat little toy to mess with. I especially liked the onboard RTC and microSD slot. Runtime debugging also seemed like a nice addition. I honestly don’t know if the arduinos offer this or not. http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/256

  37. jeff says:

    price is very steep but i really like the design strategy. i would expect rock solid libraries and docu for that price.

    now, i’m wondering what sets it apart from a 400mhz open source gumstix running linux, listed at 140$?

    surely it’s the programmable led?

    • Michael says:

      I was really glad this showed up: Now I looked a lot closer at gumstix. Fazit: I don’t have to roll my own ARM cortex – linux board to do what I want to do! Oh, and I don’t think I would ever buy the MS thing… just imagine what a dog this thing is, running .NET, and at 72MHz (I guess there’s the reason for all that RAM). At this price I can get gumstix.

  38. Chris says:

    Meh. Doesn’t excite me, and I actually *like* .NET.

    The problem with dev boards in this class is that they’re priced so ridiculously high. A board with the same MCU and capabilities, but with no memory external to the MCU, might only cost $40. Why should putting $10 of external memory on a board *triple* the cost? At that price point, there really isn’t much of a market. Too expensive for the casual experimenter. Too weak compared to other options like ITX boards.

    There are plenty of consumer products with similar MCUs, FLASH, and RAM for half this price, even though they include other stuff like screens, power supplies, rechargeable batteries, wireless, etc.

    So I dare say there is no reason why this couldn’t be produced for $60, even considering economies of scale. The first company to do so will carve out a nice market share. And if anyone has the resources to do it, Microsoft does.

    • Christopher Naeyaert says:

      GHI electronics sells many many versions of this board ranging from about $35 up to this high end one and kits. $35 is not much of a barrier of entry,

      • Chris says:

        If you read my post, you’ll see you’ve only backed up my point. $35 gets you an MCU dev board with only the memory in the MCU itself. If you need more memory, the price suddenly jumps three times, for something that doesn’t cost anywhere near three times more to manufacture. There is *no* middle ground.

    • Chris Naeyaert says:

      For some reason I can’t comment on your reply. Regardless, I fully agree with you about the pricing of these boards (so many feel like they cost way way too much money). I was simply stating that there are other lower end alternatives to this spider board, even though they offer less features. more “arduino” like solutions for a similar pricepoint. I mean, if anything that FEZ Panda board shows the arduino itself is overpriced as well.

  39. Nik says:

    The MS promo site lists the ability to run native code. What I noticed though was the CAN channels among the many connectors … Hack you car?

    The starter kit isn’t too bad for what it includes, but still out of my budget range.

  40. Plaid says:

    When I clicked on the files to see the documentation, the license it popped up was the Apache license. Why is that a problem?

    • Gene says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. The knee-jerk reactions people have when it comes to MS is rather tiring; even when MS does right they get panned. How is that supposed to encourage better behavior?

  41. WitchDoc says:

    Everything about this board is old news, the processor, the flatcable design, the USB interface, USB device emulation, it’s all been done before. The flatcable design is not going to kill arduino, there’s numerous systems build on the same principal and none of them ever made it big. It doesn’t have much on the mbed and that didn’t kill arduino either. And then there’s the Visual C IDE … how would that ever beat the arduino IDE? It’s just like all the other MS tools, bloated.

    IMHO Arduino’s secret is affordable & easy. It doesn’t have much power and doesn’t need it, 90% of the applications could be done with less than a handful of discrete components …

    • W says:

      I agree that the hardware is nothing to get moist about, as you said – it’s all been done, but being able to use Visual Studio is an awesome thing. I’ve worked with Microchip’s MPLAB, the Arduino IDE, a bunch of IDEs for developing desktop applications and VS single-handedly beats them into a pulp. VS Express is just a slightly stripped down version of an expensive proffesional tool for developing applications of any complexity. I don’t think it’s just my opinion that the Arduino IDE is shite, and MPLAB is meh, although the first one I used a year ago so there may have been improvements, and Microchip is soon launching an Eclipse based tool.

      Although some projects can be done with a few resistors on a breadboard and a couple hundred lines of code, the complexity of others makes it a pain to work with anything less than a full featured, mature IDE.

  42. Trollicus says:

    Microsoft has a long history of attacking open source while saying they are in support, embrace extend eliminate.

    .NET, C#, Silverlight, MS version of Java, IE6 DirectX etc etc the list goes on and on and on.

    The Halloween documents gave a glimpse of this strategy.

    http://www.catb.org/~esr/halloween/

    • xorpunk says:

      c# is .NET/MSIL-PE..vb.net and c# are just different syntax..

      @Hackaday:Thanks for deleting my comment where I mention that you make money off arduino sales..censor much?

  43. Bob says:

    Please tell me this is a joke.

  44. pt says:

    ok folks! i heard back from microsoft…
    ==========================================

    Hi Phillip

    Thanks for your email and your interest in .NET Gadgeteer. You’re right that we don’t _yet_ have any schematics or board layouts online. Doing this is a key part of what we mean by being ‘open’ but we were so busy at OSCON and Maker Faire over the last week that it’s taking us a few days longer than we’d hoped to make everything available.

    I saw your post at http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2011/08/03/microsoft-net-gadgeteer-open-hardware/, and to specifically reply to the questions raised there:

    * Our intention is that the .NET Gadgeteer platform is open for anybody to build hardware and software that works with it. We are publishing all the stuff we’ve created for .NET Gadgeteer – source code, interface specifications, reference hardware designs, example projects – to enable that. Not everything is on the website yet, please bear with us – it’ll be up very soon at http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com !

    * We are using the Apache 2.0 and Creative Commons-BY licenses depending on the type of artefact being published (software under Apache 2.0).

    * We are hosting a central repository (http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com/) for open hardware designs and open source software compatible with .NET Gadgeteer. We will post the schematics and layouts of our reference designs there and hope that others will follow our lead. The decision about publishing HW designs for boards made by others rests with the companies/individuals who created them – we don’t want to mandate anything but rather give people as many options as possible.

    If you think this information will be useful to others please feel free to share it/update your blog entry… Apologies about the ambiguity. When we have our designs up we’ll also review the text on our website to try and make sure we’re really clear about what we’re trying to do. But in the meantime please do let us know if you have any other questions – as you can imagine we’ve been really close to this for quite some time and it’s great to get input from some different perspectives.

    Thanks and kind regards,

    Steve (and the Gadgeteer team)
    =====================================

    • RoboGuy says:

      Thanks for posting that! Makes me more optimistic about the direction of this project.

      I really love C#, so I’ll probably buy this board regardless just to try it out in an embedded environment.

      • pt says:

        i did have a follow up with microsoft, here it is:

        ==================

        is the .net runtime going to be open sourced?

        for example, what is the time table for these three layers:

        1. hardware (schematics/board layout)
        2. firmware (.NET RTOS/runtime that is programmed into ARM chip)
        3. software (API and interface for all the accessories)

        thanks!
        =======================

    • pt says:

      follow up to my follow up…
      ———————————-

      The runtime on which Gadgeteer depends – the .NET Micro Framework – is open source today. The source is on Codeplex at http://netmf.codeplex.com/. The core Gadgeteer libraries, which modules use to communicate with mainboards and vice versa, are also open source at http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com.

      Microsoft will release the hardware schematics & software drivers for several modules in the next few days. We’re doing a final review on the code and schematics before posting them on Codeplex. These designs are intended to be templates for anyone who is interested in building HW that works with other Gadgeteer devices. We’re not manufacturing these modules for commercial sale, but we hope to inspire and support a wide variety of Gadgeteer-compatible designs that work with each other.

      Finally, there are several hardware vendors building Gadgeteer-compatible hardware – GHI, Seeed Studio, DFRobot and Sytech have announced so far. They each have their own timelines for release. GHI are the first scheduled to ship hardware on Sept. 30, and they’re readying their schematics and code for release in advance of that once they’ve applied the finishing touches.

      Please do let us know if you have any more questions! It’s exciting to share Gadgeteer with the world :)

      ==========================================

      the microsoft folks were super responsive to my emails!

  45. anfegori91 says:

    Race for Doom source port!!

  46. CJ says:

    Is there a blue led or a red led? cause all MS stuff needs a blue screen of death or a red ring of death. Or if you have a modified version will they shut you off and brick it? to little to late, the only way you can beat the Arduino at this point is to give a platform away for free and charge for extras like shields and hope that people will buy enough extras to cover the cost of the give away.

  47. I really won’t think they are going away anytime soon.

    And about the young people. Well I’m 16 so me and my friends can be categorized as young I guess.

    I know one or two persons with macs. The rest is Windows.

    I actually like .NET by the way. I know I’m obeying to a lock in, but whatever. So many computers using Windows anyway. But I keep myself up with other languages as well if the Linux revolution that everybody preaches about comes someday. LOL.

  48. HHH says:

    120 Bucks for a Tool that does nothing
    250 Bucks for a starter kit.

    F*** MS If they wanna push .NET they should sell it for much less.

    My limit would be max 100$ for the starter kit.

    • edonovan says:

      “A variety of hardware vendors are building components for .NET Gadgeteer, so you’ll have a huge assortment of modules to choose from.”

      Microsoft isn’t charging for it, the vendors are. Nothing is stopping you from designing your mainboard and releasing it to the public (once the guidelines are posted, that is).

  49. edonovan says:

    In the introduction to their module design document, they state the design guidelines for gadgeteer compatible mainboards are on the site. I’m guessing they just haven’t posted it, yet.

    I don’t know if they’ll post actual schematics, but it seems they will not prevent anyone from doing so and providing said schematics for free.

    I will wait for them to post the mainboard guidelines to make a final decision about how open they are being, though.

  50. wardy says:

    .Net has NO place in the micro market. If it takes a 64kb binary to flash an LED then you’ve chosen the wrong platform.

    • jeremiah says:

      not necessarily. There are plenty of reasons this can be a good platform. Your instant dislike of Microsoft more or less proves that.

      That’s not an attack at you, though. Instant opinions are almost always wrong.

      There have been .net microframework boards out for a long time, now, and they work great, in real-time applications.

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