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.NET Gadgeteer — Microsoft's Arduino Killer?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the didn't-see-this-in-the-magic-eight-ball dept.

Hardware Hacking 241

mikejuk writes ".NET Gadgeteer is a new open source platform, from Microsoft Research, based on the use of the .NET Micro Framework. It brings with it lots of hardware modules that are backed by object oriented software. You simply buy the modules you need — switches, GPS, WiFi etc — that you need and plug them together. The software, based on C#, is also open source, and comes with classes that let you use the modules without having to go 'low level.' Is this a competitor for the Arduino?"

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241 comments

little pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967198)

little pricey to be a arduino killer

Re:little pricey (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967356)

little pricey to be a arduino killer

"arduino killer" is not Microsoft's term. They call it a ".NET gadgeteer" or something.

I love that some blogger calls it a "arduino killer" and all of a sudden, "Microsoft's trying to kill the cute little arduino".

Arduino is cool as hell. My daughter and I have been having a blast with a couple of them that we bought just to goof off with.

The .NET Gadgeteer also looks pretty cool, though I don't know much .NET framework. Oh well, I'll let my kid learn that stuff. I'm not that interested, but I don't see any reason why we should find anything negative in this gadgeteer thing from MS.

You know which very rich and successful and famous high-tech company is NOT making an open platform for us to play with?

Seriously, go back ten years, twenty. Now ask yourself which company would come out with something like this Gadgeteer first, Apple or Microsoft. Which company would lock up its handhelds behind a walled garden. Which company would stash profits for a war chest to buy its competitors instead of paying its shareholders a dividend. Sometimes things don't go the way you would suspect.

Re:little pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967472)

little pricey to be a arduino killer

"arduino killer" is not Microsoft's term. They call it a ".NET gadgeteer" or something.

I love that some blogger calls it a "arduino killer" and all of a sudden, "Microsoft's trying to kill the cute little arduino".

Arduino is cool as hell. My daughter and I have been having a blast with a couple of them that we bought just to goof off with.

The .NET Gadgeteer also looks pretty cool, though I don't know much .NET framework. Oh well, I'll let my kid learn that stuff. I'm not that interested, but I don't see any reason why we should find anything negative in this gadgeteer thing from MS.

You know which very rich and successful and famous high-tech company is NOT making an open platform for us to play with?

Seriously, go back ten years, twenty. Now ask yourself which company would come out with something like this Gadgeteer first, Apple or Microsoft. Which company would lock up its handhelds behind a walled garden. Which company would stash profits for a war chest to buy its competitors instead of paying its shareholders a dividend. Sometimes things don't go the way you would suspect.

Is there a point somewhere in there?

Re:little pricey (2)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967576)

Does it work from linux?

Plea for Sanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967790)

The growing practice of introducing new technologies into consumer markets before industrial markets stands to cause a sea change in the IT/user relationship, Clevenger writes, adding that this will likely involve 'painful changes in the status quo of corporate IT,' including the need to 'shed our arrogance' to give the underlying technology a chance to succeed.

Yeah, yeah yeah. It seems somtimes like an article is not complete unless it points a finger at our arrogance and tells us that we need to humble ourselves, lest wonderful things fail to get off the ground. That sounds so generally true that it's hard to argue against it. Surely it is the "for the children!" of IT news. The problem is, those who say this feel no burden of proof to demonstrate that arrogance, and no other cause, is sufficient to explain every relevant event. Am I alone in having well-founded suspicions against those who don't recognize, let alone satisfy, a legitimate burden of proof prior to making solid claims?

Naturally we're all a bunch of arrogant jackasses. Why, our very belief that anyone who puts a large amount of time and energy and effort, who reads the volumes we have read, who does the research we have done, who obtains the experience we have acquired, can master technology ... damn, that's so fucking arrogant. To extend in scope this principle, down to the average user and instructions any literate adult should be able to follow, and observe with much strong evidence that too many users fail to perform the most basic tasks because they refuse to even attempt to follow the most basic, illustrated, step-by-step instructions ... and then to have the guts, the nerve, the blatant audacity to suggest that the person who fits this description (their choice) has actively solicited, invited, yea created the very problems they repetitively experience ... why that's just fucking arrogant. How dare you! Yeah, sure.

That description of the problem is a solid paragraph. How about a nice, simple solution to a problem that's not nearly so complex as it seems?


There are two ultimate reasons why someone won't yield to you and just see things your way like you want them to: 1) you're right and they are too proud to admit it, 2) they're right and your own ego won't let you entertain their idea long enough to test its validity. If the second point is true, you add hypocrisy to the very arrogance of which you accuse them. There is absolutely nothing arrogant about refusing to believe what you know to be false, however badly someone else may want you to and call you names for not doing so.

I wish we as a human race would all just fucking learn this lesson once and for all. That's my heart's desire. No, it's not a relativity of equally valid ideas. It's a willingness to fairly compare ideas to see which are actually superior. For that you must have the courage to abandon even your most favorite, pet idea the moment it is shown to be false. Your love of truth must be greater than your love of being right. It's not easy, but it just can't be that hard.

Re:little pricey (1, Interesting)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968096)

Yeh, it's an "arduino killer", why else would it have been made?

Stop playing fucking semantics to ignore the truth of the situation.

It's an overpriced "arduino killer" for people who've drunk the .net koolaid.

http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/category/265/ [ghielectronics.com]

$3 for the cheapest ribbon cable, something you can pick up from a decent part store for 50c. Rip off.

Re:little pricey (1)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967886)

A little pricey? From TFA:

You have a mainboard ($120) which runs the software and interfaces with the other modules. These include a USB module ($25), a display ($100), camera ($34), LED module ($15), buttons ($5), Ethernet ($15), WiFi ($100), SD card ($7), USB Host ($6), Serial to USB ($20) and a joystick module ($7). There are also some expansion modules and a starter kit which includes a processor and a selection of modules ($250).

$15 just for an LED!?

Also it has so many ribbon cables, it looks like *%^$^! Cthulhu.
Why do they use that many wires for each add-on? It's just ridiculous to use a ribbon cable for some of those things, let alone several just for an LCD.

Re:little pricey (2)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968170)

They use a common port connection, so that you can use any cable to talk to any board. Sometimes it's overkill - sometimes it's not. But it simplifies connectivity with a common connector.

Honest question: (4, Insightful)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967210)

Can anyone think of any example when a [fill-in-the-blank-popular-or-niche-object-of-consumption] killer has ever killed a [fill-in-the-blank]? Calling something a [fill-in-the-blank] killer seems to admit at the outset that the market belongs to [fill-in-the-blank].

Re:Honest question: (3, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967234)

I would like to kill fill-in-the-blanks.

Re:Honest question: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967252)

Facebook, as a myspace killer?

Re:Honest question: (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967594)

I don't recall it being called a myspace killer. It was much less ambitious than that in it's early days, when it was only available to college students. It didn't seem poised to kill myspace because there were plenty of people it wouldn't reach. Then, facebook slowly expanded to high school students and then the general public. It was a 'silent killer'

Re:Honest question: (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967866)

Im going to go make a post on Google+ to my one friend on there about how my 250 friends on facebook are missing out on this wildly popular facebook killer. That is, if he ever logs in again.

Re:Honest question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967276)

The telephone, as the telegraph killer?

Re:Honest question: (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967626)

nope, telegraph evolved. so has the telephone. Many technologies we still use like Frequency Division Multiplexing on a wire came from telegraphy. Our internet is the evolved telegraph and telephone system.

Re:Honest question: (1)

zget (2395308) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967280)

That's because the market currently does belong to Arduino. But it can always change, just see MySpace and Facebook and also Everquest and World of Warcraft, along others.

Re:Honest question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967548)

Arduino isn't even a blip in the microcontroller world. Sure, hobbyists may be using Arduino boards, but they're exceedingly low volume. Last I heard, there were maybe 300k arduino boards sold, ever. Billions of microcontrollers are sold every year.

The market hardly belongs to Arduino.

Re:Honest question: (2)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967940)

Not doubting your numbers, but you need more imagination. Because of the lower barrier to entry, those 300k Arduinos will blossom into a much bigger number.

Personal anecdote: where I wouldn't have considered a MC project, previously, I have bought an mbed controller and plan to do some interesting things with it. The ease of making it do fun things - in contrast with "real" MCs - enhances my enthusiasm for this device and will certainly carry over to other associates of mine who see that, "Hey! Lookit what he's doing! If he can do that, then so can I!" Then the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon kicks in, and before you know it, even Kevin Bacon is rocking an mbed / Arduino / MS jobbie.

So, yeah, it may be a blip - for now.

Re:Honest question: (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968178)

The market for DIY hobbyist boards most assuredly does...

Re:Honest question: (5, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967416)

Video killed the radio star.

Re:Honest question: (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967516)

Sure, absolutely. New technologies come along and supersede old technologies. Someone above points out telephones and telegraphs, for example. I'm just wondering, particularly, whether anyone can think of an example where such journalistic predictions of the coming death of a popular item ever prove more than a self-defeating prophecy for the popular item's would be killer. FB did something differently and better than MySpace. Video adds something new and interesting to broadcast. Perhaps, I do not know because I have not had the opportunity to work with Arduino let alone this product, MS is offering something new and different. But whenever I see in print "Acme Corp. has developed a new iThing killer", I understand "iThing controls the market, Acme Corp. is producing a new product, the Me-Too, which will attempt to replicate the functionality of the iThing but always remain in its shadow, and this journalist needed something with name recognition to write about". So, I suppose my question is more relevant to how well such writers actually understand the markets on which they claim expertise and whether anyone can think of an example where writers have been correct.

Re:Honest question: (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967646)

The Buggles were wrong, of course, many Radio Stars are on the air. Radio grew 6% this year while media in general only 3%. Radio is still growing

Re:Honest question: (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968070)

> Radio grew 6% this year

Do you mean "radioactivity"?

Re:Honest question: (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967452)

When a sheep killer has ever actually killed a sheep? Well, yes, sure. A sheep is an object of consumption, isn't it?

Re:Honest question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967460)

Excel as a Lotus 123 Killer?

Easy one. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967540)

When OS X came out, many people called it a Linux killer and *they were right*. Go to any university or other place where nerds gather and macs outnumber lin-sux users 100 to 1. Hell, go to any Linux conference and most of the people there use Macs, not linux. Apple killed Linux dead, just as many people predicted.

Re:Easy one. (1)

hsmyers (142611) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967566)

Finally---verifiable proof that parallel universes exist! I'm particularly impressed by the remark about Linux conferences. Oh and did you go to this years Sundance Festival? I think there was a film about you!!

Re:Easy one. (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967692)

I went to a BSD conference and didn't see either one. Those stupid geeks were even running open source BSD on laptops with wireless and multimedia; anyone with proper upbringing knows you don't do that! I suppose the 30 million GNU/Linux users haven't bought their macs yet, but soon will. And experts predict IOS will dominate the mobile market, right? Oh no wait, it's to be two-thirds Linux by 2013

Re:Honest question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967660)

The automobile killed the horse and buggy/carriage/etc industry out of decidedly niche markets.

Let me answer that with another question: (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967216)

Has Microsoft produced any hardware platform in the past 20 years that was a "X killer"? All the ones I've seen tend to choke on their own drool instead of "killing" a competitor.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967268)

The Ribbon interface was a productivity killer, if that counts.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (1)

Trilkin (2042026) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967322)

I found the opposite once I got used to it.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (2)

themaneatingcow (1430127) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967466)

Productivity was a Ribbon interface killer?

Graphic designers make horrible UI designers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967496)

For most of us, the absolutely massive amount of time it takes to get used to it far exceeds the amount of time that it'll ever save us. That results in a huge productivity loss for us.

It's not just Microsoft's products that suffer from this, either. It's basically every existing software product that originally had a UI created by developers, but has since had its UI "reworked" by graphic designers for more recent releases.

Firefox is a superb example of this. Graphic designers have turned it into an absolutely unusable pile of shit recently. By default, the menu bar and status bar are now gone. That makes it a royal pain in the ass to access much of its basic functionality! At least it was usable back when it was programmers creating the UI.

GNOME is another great example. While initially the work of programmers, graphic designers took more control over the direction of the UI a few years back, and now it is the laughing stock of the FOSS desktop community. It has gone from being usable to being a pile of shit, and that's putting it very nicely.

Re:Graphic designers make horrible UI designers. (1)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967570)

>Graphic designers have turned it into an absolutely unusable pile of shit recently. By default, the menu bar and status bar are now gone.

Right Click -> Customize -> Menu bar.

Seriously, that's what you are complaining about? And what are you missing the status bar for? Links still show up when you hover, they just go away when you aren't.

Re:Graphic designers make horrible UI designers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967634)

That's three clicks too many just to make the fucking menu bar re-appear. It should never have been hidden in the first place. The Firefox "UI designers" fucked that one up big time.

The status bar isn't just used for showing the URL of a hyperlink, either. Many Firefox plugins used to put quick-access icons there, for instance. Some plugins would even show additional information there, like the fact that certain content was blocked, or that the page doesn't contain valid HTML.

Firefox 4 and 5, and possibly the next few releases, will go down in software history as some of the biggest damn mistakes ever made. Within a few years, Firefox will be a dead project, much like XFree86. People are fleeing Firefox today, and it's not going to get any better until they shitcan their "UI designers". If you want the shitty modern Firefox UI, you might as well just use Chrome. At least it doesn't consume tens of GB of RAM, and can render even simple pages in under 5 seconds.

Re:Graphic designers make horrible UI designers. (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967662)

That's three clicks too many just to make the fucking menu bar re-appear. It should never have been hidden in the first place. The Firefox "UI designers" fucked that one up big time.

You understand that this is three clicks in the course of forever right?

Your complaint is not "They don't give me a choice how to display the window" but merely "My choice isn't even the default choice!".

Re:Graphic designers make horrible UI designers. (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967610)

I like having VBA macros bound simply to keys in all worksheets. Also everything on the ribbon is now bound to a key, and just about anything can be bound to an alt+# combo.

really, I spent a fair amount of time filling out todays date on 3 or 4 workbooks per "project". now i have a macro that does that with 2 key presses.

Sorry, the ribbon and vba are the things keeping me hooked on excel.

Re:Graphic designers make horrible UI designers. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968184)

Firefox is a superb example of this. Graphic designers have turned it into an absolutely unusable pile of shit recently. By default, the menu bar and status bar are now gone. That makes it a royal pain in the ass to access much of its basic functionality!

It also breaks the standard window manager functionality of double-clicking the top left corner to close an app. I've been able to do that for 25+ years now, cross-platform, until Firefox broke it.
I can only presume that the Firefox devs are now of a younger generation that doesn't even know about cross-platform standard GUI functions, nor why they're there.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967528)

The ribbon would be fine if it didn't replace traditional menus. It takes getting used to, and once you're used to it, it has some advantages, but on the whole, I don't find it faster, or notably better than the old toolbars. I like many of the under the hood changes to Excel 2007, but the Ribbon isn't a notable improvement in UI.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967272)

XBOX?

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967360)

And it sure killed the X... Box.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967454)

X-box killed the Dreamcast.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967636)

I think Sega killed the Dreamcast by releasing so many consoles and console mods in such a short time. SegaCD, Sega 32x, Sega Saturn, and the Sega Dreamcast in less than a decade.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968130)

a bit of both, most had a dreamcast day one and got rid of it when ps2 went on sale

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967922)

Playstation killed the Dreamcast. The Xbox didn't even come out until several months after the Dreamcast had been pulled from the American market.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (2)

TxRv (1662461) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967400)

The Kinect was intended as a Wii killer and did quite well, but that was only because of Microsoft embracing the maker community that found brilliant alternative uses for it. In the end it was far more effective when separated from the awful excuse for a console platform it was designed for.

So Iguess the answer is no.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967468)

Has Microsoft produced any hardware platform in the past 20 years that was a "X killer"? All the ones I've seen tend to choke on their own drool instead of "killing" a competitor.

XBOX.

Re:Let me answer that with another question: (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967638)

um.... Investor Dividend Killer? I think most of em had that distinction.

It looks nice.. but it's expensive (compared to Ardunio) and I don't run Windows on anything.

Nope (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967226)

The type of person who cares about open anything is the same type who will avoid anything with a Microsoft logo. That alone will kill any potential this platform has.

Re:Nope (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967244)

What if it's a repackaged with a monkey logo? Plenty of devs seem to have fallen for that :)

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967390)

Case in point: This douchebag. [slashdot.org]

donotwant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967240)

Can I have their iPod killer though? Sounds intriguing.

Zuuune!

Re:donotwant (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967354)

The irony there is that the Zune was a much better device than the Apple iPods of the time. It was poorly marketed, and ugly. But technologically it was better than what Apple was doing at the time.

Re:donotwant (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967432)

Was that a particularly difficult task to accomplish in the first place?

Not a chance. (4, Interesting)

decriptor (762523) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967278)

Simple reason: The base board looks like it needs connectors best I can tell and costs 4x as much as an arduino board. Plus I'm sure the MS board requires windows. I have an arduino because I can interface with it on different platforms and it didn't cost a ton to get into.

Re:Not a chance. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967478)

Requiring Windows is most likely not a problem. All the hassles involved in getting it to work with Windows, that would be the problem.

Thanks but I'll stick with Arduino and leave the nightmare of jumping around Microsoft's landmines in the past.

prediction (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967290)

I predict that this will be as successful as Microsoft's "ipod killer". What was that thing called again?

This looks like a solution in search of a problem. How often must someone go low-level with an arduino? It's the community, not the hardware that have made that platform successful. And if I need to do something, chances are someone has already written code to do just that, and made it available to the community. I don't have to code much of anything, only tweak what I find.

Re:prediction (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967666)

The lego like hardware components that can easily be connected, monitored and programmed is just such a brilliant idea. The less low-level stuff you have to resolve the more time to do something usefull you have.

We know how this ends ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967306)

Been there too many times to admit, bought the latest Microsoft gadget (over my better judgment) only to be cast adrift by them as soon as they realize that there are not going to earn buckets of cash. I have been set adrift more than Gilligan by those people. Remember the Microsoft phone? The one that only ran in Windows98 and they refused to make a driver for the next OS version. Ah yes and of course the mighty Zune, iPod killer extraordinare. Actually the Zune was my brother-in-laws debacle, but I tried to talk him out of it, so I still feel somewhat responsible.

specifications / cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967332)

14 .NET Gadgeteer compatible sockets
Configurable on-board LED
Configuration switches
Based on GHI Electronics EMX module
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)

Price $120

To compare with Netduino ($34.95)

Atmel 32-bit microcontroller
Speed: 48MHz, ARM7
Code Storage: 128 KB
RAM: 60 KB
2.1"x1.8"x0.5"

You get twice the speed for almost 4 times the cost.
The real win is memory. With 16MB RAM, you can actually get stuff done.

Why not go to the supplier [ghielectronics.com] and source exactly what you need?

Re:specifications / cost (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967368)

But what's the power consumption on that? Arduino became popular not just because of the cost, but because of the power consumption and ease of use as well. $120 for something that includes all sorts of stuff that I might not need is hardly a good deal.

Re:specifications / cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967396)

but how much resources does the actualy framework take up? hmmm

Re:specifications / cost (3, Informative)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967596)

16MB - sure, but .NET isn't the most compact code in the world. Nor is the framework - even the "compact" framework sucks up several megs.

Re:specifications / cost (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967844)

Micro Framework's footprint is around 300KB.

Re:specifications / cost (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967612)

14 .NET Gadgeteer compatible sockets

And how about compatibility to something I dream up? Can I attach whatever I wish to it, and still continue to develop in that comfy .net environment?

Arduino's main appeal to the microcontroller hobbyist crowd is that it offers simple access to AVRs without limiting you. Meaning, you basically get an environment that lets you use the microcontroller as if you didn't have it embedded in the Arduino platform if you so desire, but allows you to use it if you so please. How does Gadgeteer fare in comparison?

What microcontroller is it, anyway? I can't find that information. It's an ARM7 CPU, ok, but is it a microcontroller at all? Or just the CPU and some MS-invented design around it?

I might be extra wary when something has an MS label attached, but let me reiterate that: Arduino's appeal stems for no small reason from its openness. It's, in its bare bone, only a PCB that exposes the AVRs pins in a standardized layout. Nothing more, nothing less. You can, when you're fed up with the training wheels that their development environment is, simply hack them off and use it as a simple AVR with a PCB around that exposes the pins in a standardized layout. The crucial question is: Can you do the same with Gadgeteer?

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967334)

If microsoft has something 'killer'. They'll fuck it up.

History says so.

Microsoft and DIY don't really fit.. (1, Insightful)

crusty_architect (642208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967350)

...in the same sentence. I think most electronics DIY'ers (including me) are Linux/C/assembler types who have no interest in supporting MS..

Nope (2)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967404)

I don't think so. The success of the Arduino revolves around how easy it is to get it to reach out and touch something using all the pin interfaces (turn on a LED, control a motor, use PCM to regulate your barbeque temperature. Now there does seem to be a small overlap, it's can't complete with the arduino over it's entire range of applications.

Fun way to build on kinect hype (2)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967428)

I wont say this will kill anything, but it sounds fun. I'm betting this works with kinect soon. And, as a C# developer (along with many other langs) this sounds like a quick way to start projects to teach my kids robotics. Currently I still lean towards Mindstorm, but options are always good.

Re:Fun way to build on kinect hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967504)

It's OpenSource but requires Microsoft .Net?

Next.

Re:Fun way to build on kinect hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967558)

The .NETMF Framework is open source under the Apache License 2.0. Now if you are talking about the dev environment and not the runtime, there is Mono.

Kinect Services for Microsoft Robotics (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967550)

I wont say this will kill anything, but it sounds fun. I'm betting this works with kinect soon.

Good call.

Kinect Services for RDS provides sample services that use the Kinect for Windows SDK to allow access to the Depth and RGB data from a Kinect sensor. In addition to a service for a real Kinect, there is also a service for a simulated Kinect that works with the RDS simulator. A sample application is included that shows how to use a Kinect on a simulated robot to wander around and avoid obstacles.

Kinect Services for RDS 2008 R3 [microsoft.com]

The likeliest adopters are commercial users (3, Insightful)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967440)

I don't think this will be an Arduino killer. Arduino has too big a lead, and too much traction in the DIY, hacker, and arts communities. But it will appeal to companies that do software and are looking to break into embedded hardware. They're already familiar with .NET, C#, and Visual Studio, and they won't mind paying a premium for the hardware, because it's Microsoft-backed and because they already know the dev tools.

It might also find a home in the industrial space. Lots of manufacturing facilities have bright people who program PLC's and the like, and are quite capable of learning the tools and building simple stuff that can round out a company's automation efforts.

I don't love Microsoft, but kudos to them for branching out creatively in an effort to shore up their sagging fortunes.

Re:The likeliest adopters are commercial users (1, Interesting)

Jerrry (43027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967620)

I don't love Microsoft, but kudos to them for branching out creatively in an effort to shore up their sagging fortunes.

Microsoft just announced record Q4 earnings a few weeks ago of over $17B. How, by any stretch of the phrase, are their fortunes "sagging"? I wish my own personal fortunes were sagging as badly.

Re:The likeliest adopters are commercial users (4, Insightful)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968068)

The word "fortune" has several meanings. You're referring to finances, the parent was referring to well-being. The two are related but not the same.

Microsoft may be turning record profit, but it's clearly a company in decline. Their stranglehold on operating systems is loosening as OSX gains market share and web browsers make underlying OS less relevant. Office, their cash cow, has hit the point where nobody really sees a reason to upgrade, and its features are also being commoditized by open source and lower cost software. Xbox / Kinect are the two bright spots for a company otherwise drowning in bureaucracy and searching for relevance and innovation.

So yes, their fortunes are sagging, even as their fortune accumulates. English is funny that way.

SunSPOT clone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967456)

Sounds a lot like the Java SunSpot: http://www.sunspotworld.com/

The Arduino is cheap and plentiful. Hard to see how these will ever be either.

Wow! Awesome idea!! (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967462)

Creating a devices that come with software bits that enable the control and interfacing between your programs and the hardware devices which more easily enables you to make the devices do useful things!! I can't believe no one has thought of this before!! Next thing you know, someone will tie all of these software-hardware interface modules (let's call them drivers for short) into a bundle that lets them share a common pool of resources such as processor time and memory more efficiently... "in an object oriented way" of course because unless it was done with "objects" it couldn't be new or novel could it?

I know -- laugh me right off of slashdot right here and now. The second programming language I learned was assembly language for 8 and 16 bit Motorola processors. (The first was BASIC.) Assembly language taught me how computers really work. All this "object oriented" crap is just an abstraction that helps people see programming in ways that aren't even natural to the machines and how they run. I prefer to see things as they are, not how I want them to be. It's all still bits, bytes, signals, registers, inputs and outputs. Sure, you can imagine it's all some sort of flowers and sunshine microcosm where causes and effects happen magically just like they do in the real world (hint: the real world isn't magical either and there ain't no god that makes it all work either). It's all a bunch of tiny, tiny operations that accomplish bigger things. (Hell, for that matter, even the complex instructions in today's processors are really just simple instructions running on smaller processors... anyone ever wonder what "microcode" is and why/how we always see that "microcode update" line in the booting of Linux? Yeah... I knew and have known for a long time... long enough to chuckle to myself when the "RISC vs CISC" debates were going on. (Hint: It's ALL "RISC" now even if it wasn't in the early 8/16 bit days... it would have been horribly more difficult to scale processors to the size and performance we see today without building it all out on RISC elements.)

It has all been done before and they will continue re-doing it again and again because new ideas are truly rare. I wonder how long it will be before we see an " -- over the internet" or an " -- on a handheld device" versions of these same things.

Re:Wow! Awesome idea!! (3, Interesting)

rsclient (112577) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968116)

TL;DR: "You kids get off my lawn"

May apologies, but you are on the wrong side of history. In the 50's, there were "old guard" programmers who wanted to program in octal instead of assembly so they could really understand what the computer was doing. In the 60's, the "old guard" fought COBOL and FORTRAN in favor of assembly so "they could understand what the computer was doing". In then 70's, they fought virtual memory because "only with real memory could you understand what the computer was doing". In the 80's, they fought SQL and wanted to keep COBOL so "they could understand what the computer was really doing". In the 90's they fought GUIs because "only with a command line could you really understand what the computer was doing". And in the last decade, they fought bytecode and interpreted languages because "only with a compiled language can you really understand what the computer is doing".

This is not to say that every proposed new language and concept is good -- they aren't. There was an research computer where the compiler was in hardware (yes, individual gates and thing to parse your source code), along with the entire OS. There have been visual languages by the dozen; almost all were losers.

But, overall, history isn't on your side. The higher level languages and abstractions actual make people more productive programmers. Both Java and .NET have been accepted as "good" by an enormous number of working programmers and their hard-nosed managers; they are here to stay.

Hell no (0)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967464)

Let me see...

Supported Platform

Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista SP2 or Microsoft Windows XP SP3

No Linux? So what's the point about it being open-source then? Yes I know Windows has plenty of open-source software (lots of it pretty good too), but Microsoft has no trust in the FLOSS community left. This is hardly going to help if they can't even bother to make it officially support Mono (since it uses C#).

I don't even use Linux anymore and I don't see the point of using this instead of something established and mature like Arduino. Yet anyway.

System Stability Module (SSM) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967484)

Does it come with the Ctrl-Alt-Del, 3-key "System Stability Module (SSM)"?

Netduino (1)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967500)

I really like the Netduino [netduino.com] . I find it to be affordable, arduino shield compatible, and write the code with C#.

Heard of the Netduino? (1)

TheNucleon (865817) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967508)

Has no one heard of the Netduino - it's been out for a quite a while. Arduino-like, and programmed with .NET Micro Framework:

http://netduino.com/ [netduino.com]

No. Just no. For more than one reason. (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967526)

First: MS. Hobbyists, especially the microcontroller crowd, are usually aiming for independence, interconnectivity and freedom of choices. Most microtinkerers I know were even shy to touch the Arduino because it came along with its own development tools that smelled like "you need them to do anything with it". Only after reading the specs, seeing the PCB around the chip and noticing that it is pretty much simply a (rather well designed) pimped out devboard, essentially a "standardized breadboard plus programmer", they started to use it. Many I know still refuse to use the compiler that came with it and stick with AVR Studio or GCC. Some even consider that "too far from the metal" and stick with ASM, personally I think one can overdo his zeal for independence and "feeling your controller", but I'm not judging them. Case in point, microdevs hate being locked into something. Despite the perpetual ATMEL vs PIC battle (and the self-chosen lock-in with either platform, since few people I know really want to work with both).

Second: Microcontrollers are still very, very tiny in their specs. The average affordable model measures their clock in the Megahertz and their flash rom (program memory) in the kilobytes. And for that a .net platform? Are you kidding? Now, I might be prejudiced in this matter, but unless they somhow then turn that .net program into very tight assembler, the 72MHz Arm will feel like a 8MHz Atmel. Now, that Arm implementation MS is offering has 4500kB of flash. Pretty much, considering most AVRs still measure their flash ram in the single and double digit kilobytes. But will that .net compiler spit out native code? Or will a good deal of those 4.5MB be taken up by some virtual machine that then tries to run the object code? Essentially the question is, how much "work" can you push into the flash, how many instructions can you possibly put into it before you're running out of space?

And finally: As a extension from the first point, MC developers love to tinker and toy with their gadgets. And they love expanding on them. Having a wide selection of addons is nice, but how easy is it to roll your own? In case I do not want that Ethernet expansion, can I make my own? Are the specs known? What about the legal shit, can I publish what I create without paying MS for it?

I'd be wary to take the information provided at face value. 72MHz look far more than the measly 20-48MHz Arduino offers (depending on the board you choose). And 4.5MB certainly is far more than 128KB of flash rom. The key question is, though, how much of that rom is usable, how do the processors perform in comparison, and how easy is it to roll your own expansions.

Re:No. Just no. For more than one reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967618)

Please see the posts about the netduino. An already existing .NETMF based device that is pin compatible with the Arduino.

It's not meant to compete with Arduino (5, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967532)

Look at the specs. Arduino's "beefy" MCU is 16 MHz, 8 bits. This is 72 MHz, 32 bits. Arduino draws a sub-10 uA sleep current. This thing draws a 40 mA (yes, milliamp) sleep current. They're completely different devices targeting completely different markets. Talk of "killing" Arduino is just meant to draw eyeballs and clicks.

Re:It's not meant to compete with Arduino (1)

drhank1980 (1225872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968042)

I agree completely a 32-bit ARM 7 is in a completely different ball park than an AVR Mega. Clearly not targeting the same end applications.

Closer to an NXT killer ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967534)

Gadgeteer seems more like an NXT killer because it is about plugging in modules and writing the software.

Arduino, well, that attracts a different crowd. In some ways, Arduino users seem to be a bit more simplistic. You're limited to one shield (unless you do careful planning), the IDE is very straight forward, etc.. In other ways Aduino users are more sophisticated. It is easier to build a small circuit on a breadboard and connect it to the Arduino with jumper wires. You could do that with the Gadgeteer hardware, but it doesn't look quite as simple so I doubt as many people will do it.

I think that the Windows only bit will limit its use too. Have the people who called the Gadgeteer an Arduino killer really looked at the Arduino userbaseà Lots of Windows users, sure. Tonnes of artists and geeks who use Mac or Linux too.

119.95!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967552)

The only thing that joker would be killing is my wallet!
(Arduino Uno Board ~ $26)

whoa! that looks expensive (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967556)

I'm, I guess, what you'd call a professional arduino programmer. been working exclusively for the past 2 years or so on a combo hardware/firmware project. I did the hardware design, proto testing and driver+apps coding.

and so, I'm pretty familiar with hardware and operational costs of getting arduinos up and running from scratch (we did our own board called the LCDuino-1). when I look at the stuff mentioned in the article, I see more zeroes behind non-zeros than should be there. just too expensive for an 'arduino killer' platform or system.

I'm not against this *because* its MS; and I'm willing to consider other alternatives, but this does not at all look cost effective, just from the pure cost of boards and parts and cables POV.

otoh, the ARM systems (so-called 'plug computers' from marvell) are the next open-source and viable step up from arduino-land. those seagate dockstars and pogoplugs are common examples of those (and nice and hackable, too). with those, you get a full debian linux stack in there; not some mickeymouse 'other thing' inside that you now have to learn and deal with (and debug).

for me, its arduino for the extreme low end; and small/tiny/fanless linux boxes for the "$50 and up" kind of range. they even mix well; if you need a tcp/ip presence, use one of those dockstars and have full ip-tables and all that neat protective stuff there; then have a serial link to the arduino for when it needs to report 'back up'. great way to add remote web control safely to the arduino realtime systems.

So, anyone can me them? (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967632)

So, I guess then being from Microsoft, it will be just like Arduino in that all the software *and* all the hardware designs are open source, so anybody can make and sell the hardware if they feel like it. Right? And people can take the hardware designs and modify them to make special purpose version, and be able to release updates to the software tool chain to support the new hardware?

Somehow, this just doesn't pass the giggle test.

Arduino killer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967688)

The software, based on C#

Nope.. next!

Expensive toys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36967814)

$250.00 for the starter kit, pretty expensive toys I'd say!

Apache License 2 (2)

KugelKurt (908765) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967822)

So it's real FOSS. Cool. No matter how much corporate MS sucks, MS Research is usually great and their use of AL2 instead of some "Shared Source" license makes Gadgeteer fully Free. One could even port it away from .NET and MS could do nothing about it. AL2 even includes a royalty-free patent license.

Re:Apache License 2 (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968066)

This uses .NET MF, which is itself FOSS under Apache license, so the entire stack is, in fact, open.

Re:Apache License 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36968194)

So, Bill gates was wrong? How dare you!

PIC Open Source? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967840)

Where's a good repository of GPL source code for PIC MCUs? PIC16F, PIC18F, PIC24F?

Different level of hardware (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967862)

At $120 each, I don't think this board will replace anything but another more expensive board. That's not the Arduino.

And with all the 10 pin ribbon connections and little in the way of direct bus access, it's a different level of hardware.

And using .NET, who cares? But 4.5Mb of flash! Woot woot! Don't get blinded by looking at the flash.

Pricey, so why not gumstix? (2)

naasking (94116) | more than 2 years ago | (#36967928)

For those prices, why wouldn't I just get a gumstix and run Mono on it? The gumstix boards also host ARM CPUs that are clocked 10x faster.

Not to be rude (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36968166)

"LED module ($15)"

fuck off

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