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Just found Netduino. Quick platform question

I’ve just discovered Netduino today while looking for a C# way to code Arduino and ATMega boards, hoping to find where someone built a cross-language compiler from C# to AVR… but ran across Wilderness Labs instead. I’ve found Netduino very interesting, being a C# developer since the pre-beta versions back in 2001. I hoping I can ask a few questions here before digging in any deeper, as I’m trying to fill a unique niche.

I’ve been working on a side business developing curriculum for electronics, robotics, digital logic, and I’ve been trying to pick a microcontroller to use. I’ve looked at a lot of them that have been focused towards education and have a stack of probably 30 that include Parallax, Arduino (clones, compatibles, derived and a few homemade boards), Basic Stamps, Propellers, and a Raspberry PI. Each have issues with what I am trying to do and do not fit my needs very well. But at first glance, Netdunio looks to solve many of these issues. So, I wanted to post a few questions that I have not been able to resolve looking through the website.

One of the advantages of microcontrollers like say ATMega, PIC, and others, is that you can work on development boards or prototyping setups and then use just the chip in your final product. So say you use Arduino as your development board, you’d buy a $2 ATMega chip to build your final product. You wouldn’t use the Arduino prototyping board and solder it in to your final product. Well, you can, but in an engineering process you’d work through your designs and then build a final PCB with the microcontroller and take that to market. Can you work through a process like this with Netduino? Can I prototype on the Netduino and then build a PCB that I can take to market? Or is Netduino more of a single board per project approach or more focused on learning? It is based on ARM, so I think you can work through this sort of approach, right?

Just curious if anyone thinks Netduino would be a good fit for what I am doing and trying to teach. Or maybe I would be repeating much of what Wilderness Labs is already doing? So, I might be stepping on toes here? That is not my intent, I am just looking for a good board and platform to use for my curriculum. It sounds like Netduino might be a good fit.

Any feedback or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Best regards,
Jon Rothlander

Hello Jon,

Netduino is part of the older family of board and these have been superseded by the Meadow family of boards. These boards utilise a more powerful processor and make more RAM available to the application.

Meadow is targeting .NET Standard in the version 1.0 of the software (the OS is currently in beta). This brings modern C# to the microcontroller world.

Meadow is currently available on the Feather form factor. An embeddable module is on the way. It is also intended to release schematics and documentation to allow for the system to be tightly integrated into your product should you wish to.

Hope that answers your questions,
Mark

Nevyn,

Thanks for your response and details. I just read through the kick-starter page from 2018 and I’m starting to get the picture now. Wish I had to ran into this a few years ago.

It sounds like a good fit for what I am trying to do with my curriculum, so I ordered one. Looking forward to getting some hands on experience with it and seeing how well it works.

So for now, the Meadow F7 Micro board is the only one available, right? That’s all I see. Is there any info available for the embedded module that is coming out? I searched but could not find anything other than a sentence that says a low-cost embedded version is coming out that will allow you to use the same hardware and software from prototyping to production. That sounds exactly like what I need.

Best regards,
Jon Rothlander

Jon,

Meadow F7 Micro is the only one of the family available for purchase at the moment.

We have production validation embedded modules and we are at the end of designing the test carrier boards which would be used for testing the embedded modules.

In terms of capability, the embedded module will have all of the features of the Meadow F7 board as well as support physical network connection. We are also looking at SD card support as well.

If you haven’t already done so then you might want to sign up to our newsletter. We also offer support through Slack as well as this community forum.

Hope you enjoy using the module.

Regards,
Mark

Hi Jon
I can only speak from my experiences but you can certainly integrate the Netduino prototype board into your bespoke designs. It’s a completely open design. That’s exactly what we have done. One slight issue may be that they seem to be hard to come by at the moment. I asked a question a few weeks back about whether they are obsolete or not. Take a look at the reply.

https://community.wildernesslabs.co/t/n3-hardware-obsolete/1198/5

I don’t know what environment your students will be using but if it’s Visual Studio 2019 then take a look at

https://community.wildernesslabs.co/t/vs2019-netduino-support/1193/5

Also you need to be realistic about real time performance. Simplistically I know, but as the code is interpreted you are usually in the milliseconds and not microseconds of granularity. For lots of applications this is just fine.

There are several possibilities out there but only you can gauge if it meets your requirements. For me personally I like the ability to use C#, reusing a lot of code from the desktop on the Netduino platform. As we have a stable design I’m not looking to change it for a while. I am watching what Meadow is doing and for me this would be top of the list to try when it’s more mature and if the need arises. I’ll get one and have a play at some point.

Good luck