Friday, December 10, 2010

The Imagine Cup 2011

IC_logoLearn new skills, meet new friends and quite possibly change the world. The Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology where competitors put their ideas into action through their creativity and innovation to help solve some of the world’s toughest problems – such as education, environmental sustainability, healthcare, disaster relief and more – while competing for cash and prizes. Students compete in one or more of several competitions, including Embedded Development which challenges students to develop their own embedded devices and go beyond the desktop working in both hardware and software to build a solution using Windows Embedded Compact 7 on a provided embedded device. You have until Jan 9th to register your team and define your proposed project.
 
IC11_Embedded_LockupIf you’re having trouble defining a project, check out Imagine Cup Solve This, which provides a marketplace of real-world problems submitted by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations from around the world. You can choose a project from the Imagine Cup Solve This Library, or you can focus your creative energies on a social cause that matters most to you.  
 
Check it all out at http://imaginecup.com and sign up for the Embedded Development competition before it’s too late.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

.NET Micro Framework Toolkit – .NET MF 4.1 and Visual Studio 2010 Support

I have checked-in all the changes necessary for .NET MF 4.1 and Visual Studio 2010 support. Have a look at the project source code page.

Update 5/11:

You can download the latest release here (including the LE / BE files):

http://www.mftoolkit.net/

There are some complaints how the project is organized. The initial projects are done for desktop .NET Framework. As there are only little changes necessary for the .NET Micro Framework I was using the same source code files for the desktop and .NET MF projects and added compiler switches MF to get rid of missing support in .NET MF.

The .NET MF projects are prefixed with "Micro", if you want to use the MicroIO project in your .NET MF project you need MicroIO and IO, if using MicroHTTP you need MicroIO, IO and HTTP, too.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

MSDN Magazine - Connected Devices Using the .NET Micro Framework

Colin Miller wrote about how .NET Micro Framework fits together with desktop .NET Framework and Microsoft Windows Azure-hosted Web Services using DPWS (Devices Profile for Web Services):

Today, we see a proliferation of applications that include connected devices. In fact, the “Internet of Things” (devices connected over the Internet) is already estimated to be larger than the World Wide Web in terms of endpoints and is projected to grow to an order of magnitude larger in the next few years.

In the near future, we’ll be interacting with more intelligent devices instead of recognizable computers. Just look around your house. The things that can be usefully connected include your appliances (for energy management, software updates and maintenance); your car (for coordination on recharging your new electric vehicle with the grid, automatic testing and maintenance and software updates); your irrigation system (for scheduling based on weather reports and water management); your pets (to determine their location and configure invisible fencing); your thermostat (for remote control); and much more.

Read the full article at MSDN Magazine online and download the source code at codeplex.com.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Netduino Plus – Arduino for .NET MF including Ethernet and Micro SD Support

Netduino Plus Secret Labs is launching its .NET-friendly Netduino Plus, which adds Ethernet and microSD to a regular Netduino board (which in itself is a sort of high powered, Visual Studio-compatible Arduino, with a 32-bit 48MHz ARM7 processor, instead of Arduino's 8-bit number, but pin compatible with Arduino "shields"). Unfortunately, the networking code eats of a good majority of the board's already meager code storage and RAM, but you can always flash the original Netduino's firmware on here if you'd like. Right now the board is in a "public beta" while the firmware gets some extra tweaks, but you should be able to drop $60 on the final model by the holidays.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Microsoft .NET Micro Framework Source Code available at CodePlex.com

Microsoft started to publish the source code of the .NET Micro Framework to CodePlex, the Open Source Community:

Up to this point, we have released the platform in the SDK (for building managed code applications) and the Porting Kit (for building new hardware adaptations or getting to the NETMF code). The code is, of course, released under the Apache 2.0 license.  People who wanted to contribute to the platform in 4.1 contacted us and we arranged for them to submit their changes to us.  As of today, we are going to add CodePlex to this landscape to facilitate your access to the code and your ability to contribute.  The CodePlex site has a full description of how to interact with the development effort.  The licenses of course stay the same and the downloads also remain on Microsoft Download Center.

Check it out at: http://netmf.codeplex.com/.  We will be moving the issues over to this site so that you can track the current known issues and work items.  We are still learning how this will work for a project of this size so bear with us if you run into any difficulties.

Project Description

The Microsoft .NET Micro Framework combines the reliability and efficiency of managed code with the premier development tools of Microsoft Visual Studio® to deliver exceptional productivity for developing embedded applications on small devices. The Microsoft .NET Micro Framework SDK supports development of code, including device I/O, in the C# language using a subset of the .NET libraries, and is fully integrated with the Microsoft Visual Studio® development environment. This project allows building the full SDK and Porting Kit (PK) installers and it includes the RTIP TCP/IP stack from EBSnet Inc., the lwIP open source TCP/IP stack and the OpenSSL distribution.

Additional Note

The .NET Micro Framework is subject to the Apache License, version 2.0.  In addition to the source code that we make available here, we have also packaged the Micro Framework as part of an SDK and as part of a Porting Kit.  Within the Porting Kit, we have also included, as a convenience for you, the following third-party open-source code:  lwIP and OpenSSL.  Each of these is governed by their respective licenses, and we have simply appended those licenses immediately after the Apache License, version 2.0 in the license.rtf file.  You can see a copy of that file in the Download tab (we have put it in a Word Doc format and called it the “.NET Micro Framework SDK and PK License”).

In addition, as another convenience for you, we have also included on this project certain binary-only files:  namely an RTIP TCP/IP stack from EBSnet, Inc., and a set of cryptography libraries.  These are downloadable from the Downloads page of this project.  The license text for each of these are also available on the Downloads page of this project as well.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another first experience post with Netduino and the .NET Micro Framework (Pete Brown)

Pete Brown wrote his about his first experiences with Netduino and the .NET Micro Framework:

I like gadgets. Some of the coolest gadgets are add-on boards like the Freescale board that works with the Win7 Sensor and Location API. Recently, Arduino and Netduino caught my eye. Arduino is an open source hardware platform / microcontroller with a long history. The specification for the board is completely open, allowing anyone to build one themselves, or purchase a pre-built one. Coding is typically done in C++. Tons of projects have been built on it over the years.

More about license, specs, what can you do with it on his blog post.

The .NET Micro Framework - Hardware for Software People (Scott Hanselman)

smallwristnet Some of you maybe know Scott Hanselman (I know him from a time where AJAX was “born”). Reading is blog frequently I found a post today about the .NET Micro Framework.

I'm definitely a software person. I took EE in school and made an LED class, then a small computer like everyone else, and I know my volts and my amps for the most part, but that's about it. The limits of my skills are somewhere around adding an LED and some resistors to leech power off a USB adapter (which I recently did while working on the Hanselcade retro arcade build).

Hm, if I look back to school… I had the same experience. But at this time I had to write assembler code or some very special basic code that was compiled later to native machine code.

Today it is as easy as writing your first ConsoleApplication using C#. All the tools and SDKs are available at no cost! And an emulator is available for a common device as well as specific emulators from hardware boards. If you want to see it running on a physical hardware buy one of the great starter kits that include everything.

Have a look at the Hanselminutes on 9 where Scott is talking to Colin Miller.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quadrocopter controlled by .NET Micro Framework

Are you interested in build your own quadrocopter (quadrotor helicopter) running on the .NET Micro Framework platform? Have you already done any research on getting a RC flight module?

I bought the AR.Drone from Parrot, well, I’m very impressed from controlling the quadrocopter from an iPhone. Well, I had several problems like a damaged navigation board, and I’m missing some features to play with. Building my own one and adding GPS, a camera etc. together with the .NET Micro Framework could be the solution.

If there is somebody who has already built one with a different platform and would like to try to port this to .NET MF (C#): feel free to contact me as I have an MSDN Ultimate subscription for one year available which includes a full Visual Studio 2010 version.

Do you want to follow us at TinyCLR forum?

SparkFun SerLCD controlled from .NET Micro Framework

sparkfunThe author of this blog wrote, that he maybe is not the only one who has written an implementation for the SparkFun SerLCD (16×2 and 20×4), but I like the really small and working one.

Check out his blog post

Controlling a DC Motor and Handling Threading with .NET MF

I found a new article on how to control a DC motor and why Thread.Sleep doesn’t really sleep.

A big highlight of NETMF is the using of threads. Which means you can run many functions quasi in parallel. You only need to pack your single programs into a function. Declare the function as a thread and start the thread. Thats all. The secret behind is the use of the 'thread.Sleep' function. This is the NETMF function for 'delay' in Arduino speech. But NETMF will not simply wait, it will bring another thread into foreground to run on the processor. The other thread will sleep in the background, until the sleep time is finished.

I am running into my first big problem with NETMF when I use the thread functionality. As you can see in the first video, the servo will not do his sweep, as he do when running as a single program. It costs me some hours to find out that this is not a thread problem. After changing the servo lib to the GHI components lib, everything works fine, as you can see in the 2nd video.

Check the full blog post (ported the Arduino RTTTL sketch to .NET MF) and download the source code at codeplex.com.

GPS using the Netduino platform and .NET MF

gpsBob Cravens wrote a great article on how to use the GPS shield used in the Arduino project on the open-source Netduino platform:

I recently blogged about using the Arduino board as a GPS data logger. I have been using this to collect geo-location data for the Truck Tracker application. In this post, I will explore using the Netduino for that purpose.

Read his article and check out the most basic Netduino source code to connect and read data from the GPS serial port…

Using alphanumeric LCDs together with .NET Micro Framework

Szymon Kobalczyk wrote on his blog:

lcd.NET Micro Framework includes reach graphics capabilities with WPF-like libraries, and quite a few high end development boards (Tahoe II, ChipworkX, or FEZ Cobra to name a few) include fancy graphic TFT screens, often with touch input thrown in as well. But this comes at a significantly higher costs, and requires a speedy CPU. Thus it might seem that if you are using a much cheaper board such as Netduino or one of FEZ family, you are doomed to rely on blinking LEDs only. Not quite so. In most scenarios an alphanumeric LCD might be a cheap alternative (or if you have higher budget you might consider using an OLED screen that also works with Netduino).

Read the full story here

What’s going on with FEZ? Some really impressive videos

And here are some great videos showing you the FEZ boards and some great projects. To view more details visit http://www.tinyclr.com/.

EZ stands for "Freakin' Easy!"

FEZ offers many features not found in Arduino, BASIC STAMP and others:

  1. Based on Microsoft''s .NET Micro Framework.
  2. Runs on 72Mhz NXP ARM processors.
  3. Supports runtime debugging (breakpoints, variable inspection, stepping, etc.)
  4. Use Visual C# 2010 Express Edition for development.
  5. Advanced capabilities like FAT, USB device and USB host.
  6. Easily upgrades to hardware such as EMX.
  7. Open source hardware design files.
  8. Use existing shields and holder boards.
  9. Based on the USBizi chipset (ideal for commercial use).
  10. FEZ Mini is BS2 pin-out compatible with extra I/Os.
  11. FEZ Domino is Arduino pin-out compatible with extra I/Os.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netduino Projects / Examples

Just to keep an eye on the Netduino plattform I had a look on some great videos on YouTube:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hm, still waiting for my order.

Bicycle Computer Series – Build your own one

The Microsoft .NET Micro Framework team worte a great series on how to build your own bicycle computer with the .NET MF.

image

And yes, download the full source code for the bicycle computer at CodePlex. To compile the projects you need the GHI SDK as the hardware is mapped to it.

Netduino – an open-source electronics platform using .NET MF

Just in case if you didn’t heard about it, there is an open-source electronics platform available which is using the .NET Micro Framework, the Netduino. All design files and source code is included, and this at a starting price from $34.95.

netduino

And yes, you can build your own application with Visual C# Express 2010 and the .NET Micro Framework SDK v4.1 at no additional costs.

I hope I can get one in the next weeks to review it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Contributing Projects to .NET Micro Framework – Clarified

Reading today at the .NET Micro Framework blog about contributing projects to the .NET MF as well as how to coordinate feature development:

  • We are only talking about the core implementation of the code as it is shipped and supported by Microsoft. This process makes no attempt to restrict anyone from building whatever they want on the technology that is consistent with the broad licensing provisions.
  • There continues to be a Core Technology team of Microsoft and non-Microsoft supporters of the platform who will be involved in the technical and architectural direction of the core implementation.
  • The NETMF proposed feature discussion group is intended to be exactly that, an opportunity to propose an idea and have a discussion on the definition and the merits of the proposal. This discussion can be used to coordinate feature development outside the core implementation as well as in the core implementation.
  • NEW - There was not enough feedback on the discussion group so it was not clear that ideas had been heard or not. Starting in about a week, the Core Technology team will respond to each idea with an assessment of whether it is a candidate for the core implementation.
  • NEW - The criteria that will be used to assess the proposals are:
    - Interesting to general audience
    - Potential design and implementation are likely to be consistent with the size, performance , and power consumption objectives of the platform
    - Higher priority is given to features that enhance the connected device support
  • NEW – There was not enough transparency in the acceptance and tracking of proposed features. Starting by the time 4.1 ships, we will move the accepted candidates into a database on codeplex.com where their progress can be tracked by anyone.
  • Once the ideas have been accepted and based on their priority, the Core Tech team will work with the contributors to generate the necessary requirements and design documents. NEW -these will be posted on the NETMF Technical Resources pages for broad review.

Any feedback welcome at the .NET MF blog post comments!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Microsoft .NET Micro Framework 4.1 and Multi-Targeting Support in Visual Studio 2010

A really good news for all developers that need to develop .NET MF devices with different .NET MF frameworks: the next small update on .NET Micro Framework 4.1 will add Visual Studio 2010 as well as the multi-targeting support. That means that you are able to compile with .NET MF 3.0 as well as .NET MF 4.1. If it will be possible to use the binary files compiled with the new framework on .NET MF 4.0 I’m not sure.

Looking forward to this new release!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Microsoft .NET Micro Framework Roadmap – What’s next?

Today found at the .NET MF team blog:

We are working on a version 4.1 release that includes (pending any last minute contributions):

  • VS 2010 support
  • The hashtable proposed on the netmf.com discussion and contributed by Ed Harlow
  • Open Source TCP/IP and SSL
  • DPWS enhancements
  • Big Endian support

The Open Source TCP/IP stack is the LWIP stack with OpenSSL.  These two Open Source stack elements will be available under the BSD license rather than the Apache 2.0 license that we use for the rest of the product.  We are in discussions with EBSNet about continuing to have their full featured and supported commercial stack available.  More on that later.  The current crypto binaries will also continue to be available for anyone using them. 

There are several more processor ports on the way.  I will not steal our partners' thunder by pre-announcing those but there are some very interesting new additions coming. 

Going Forward:

  1. We have gotten feedback that the process for contributing features to the core codebase is not clear.  We are working on that issue.
  2. We will make version 4.1 available at the Microsoft Download Center as before.  We will continue to make approximately annual releases through that channel.  After version 4.1, we will also have the evolving codebase and issue tracking database on Codeplex so that you can get the most current drop or the last major drop - whichever works best for your needs.

Looking forward to your comments and questions!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Announcing the Topaz i.MX25 CPU Module and Development Kit

Martin from Device Solutions finished the Topaz i.MX25 CPU module and development kit for Windows CE 6.0 R3. The port for .NET Micro Framework as well as a Linux version is under development.

We are very pleased to announce the Topaz i.MX25 CPU Module and Development Kit.  Topaz is a new CPU module designed for portable, industrial and automotive applications.

image The Topaz module includes a Freescale i.MX25 (400MHz ARM926), 64MBytes mobile DDR, 128MBytes NAND flash, Freescale Power Management IC and Ethernet PHY.  Like Meridian, Topaz is a surface mount module.  This is easy to mount on new hardware and scales well in volume production.

Topaz includes 10/100 Ethernet (just add a MagJack), USB Host and High-Speed OTG ports, LCD controller, Touch-controller, ADC, SD card, CAN, 5x serial ports, PWM, One-Wire, SPI, I2C, Security and more.  Check out the product page and data sheet for all the technical details.

For Topaz, we worked with partners to support Windows CE and Linux, as well as the .NET Micro Framework.  We are shipping today with Windows CE 6.0 R3 in conjunction with GuruCE.  The .NET Micro Framework and Linux are in development.

Topaz is ideal for portable applications as it uses low-power memory and can be powered from a LiIon cell.  For HMI applications, the built-in LCD and touch-screen controllers make it simple to connect a variety of display types.   For automotive applications, Freescale supply specific variants of the i.MX25 and these are supported by the Topaz module.

The Development Kit is great for evaluating the Topaz CPU module and development devices.

It includes 10/100 Ethernet, Serial, USB host and OTG ports, SD card and audio out.  All other signals are available on 0.1” interface headers for easy connection.

image

You have a choice of LCDs for use with the kit:

  • 4.3” 480×272 TFT LCD with touch-screen.
  • 7” 800×480 TFT LCD with touch-screen.

The development kit is priced at US$299 and the LCD kits are US$199 for the 4.3” option and US$299 for the 7” option.  These are available from their web shop now, and will be with distributors in the next 2-3 weeks.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Using a XBox controller with .NET Micro Framework

GHI Electronics wrote about how to use the Microsoft XBox controller (USB) to interact with a .NET Micro Framework module like the USBizi(FEZ), EMX or ChipworkX.

If you are asking yourself, how do I use the XBOX 360 controller in my project? If you are using Arduino then this requires so much circuitry and programming to do...actually, I am not sure myself how this can be done. If you are using BS2 then just forget about the idea! To use XBOX controller you will need a windows CE device with few month to learn how to write USB drivers. Out of curiosity, I did search the web for drivers for XBOX, linux winCE, windows or MAC drivers. I did find few and I can tell you this, looking the the driver source code was scary. Try to google then and take a look yourself.

XBOX controller has many digital inputs but unfortunately it is not a standard HID device and so it will not work with the standard drivers. This example implements an XBOX controller driver using raw USB services.

Read the full story

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Using .NET Micro Framework v4.0, Device Solutions' Board Support Package and GCC

I’m currently working on the porting kit. For all of you never did something with the kit Jan Kučera has created a great tutorial where to start downloading all the files and do your first own firmware for the Thaoe-II board.

He is using the Board Support Package from Device Solutions which will help you to get all the different environment set-ups.

More next…

Embedded World 2010 in Nuremberg – A short Review

Yesterday I visited the Microsoft .NET Micro Framework booth at the Embedded World 2010 here in Nuremberg. It was a pleasure for me to meet partners and developers from all over the world: from New Zealand, Turkey, the Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Netherlands, the United States… well, and from Germany, of course.

Last year there was no booth at the Embedded World, but we could use the time to meet each other. The feedback from this year was really good, maybe 60% already have heard from .NET MF, about 20% already bought one of the great development kits.

In the evening we talked about all the news we got last year starting from integrating the .NET MF team in the developer group and opening the source code.

See some pictures from Bratwurst Röslein (and thanks to Andreas who invited us to eat some Nürnberger Bratwürstchen).

IMG_3031 IMG_3032 IMG_3033 IMG_3034 IMG_3035  IMG_3037

Looking forward to see everybody again next year at the .NET MF booth!

See more photos taken at the booth at the .NET MF blog…

Friday, February 26, 2010

How to return Images or Files with the HTTP Server (MFToolkit)

Is it somehow possible to have a static webpage with some images stored in Resources? I mean the web page can be treated just as string and sent to client, but i have been unable so far to send image file. I can get the image from resources

Bitmap image = Resources.GetBitmap(
    Resources.BitmapResources.Image1
);

But what to do then? how to read bytes from these image and send them to client? Or is there some other way? I don’t want to use SD card or anything external, that would be a waste of resources.

Well, if you add an image to the embedded resources (Resources.resx) Visual Studio will use it as a bitmap (see the example above). In older Micro .NET Framework it isn’t really easy to get the bytes from an image.

The best way to return images do following:

  1. Rename your image xxxx.jpg to xxxx.bin
  2. Open Resources.resx and select the type files (instead of type images)
  3. Click on add new file, select file filter *.*
  4. Select the image xxxx.bin which will be added as xxxx embedded resource

Then you can use following code in your HttpHandler:

if (context.Request.RawUrl == "/xxxx.jpg")
{
    context.Response.ContentType = "images/jpeg";
    context.Response.Write(
        Resources.GetBytes(Resources.BinaryResources.xxxx)
    );
}

You can do the same with any static file as well as text files (*.html).

TFT Display / VGA Monitor connected to .NET MF Device

GHI Electronics offers many hardware modules running .NET Micro Framework, like EMX and ChipworkX. They all support TFT displays with 16-bit 5:6:5 RGB color depth.

GHI-00123 With this interface, users can use about any TFT display. Some applications, like handheld devices, may require a 320x240 3.4" display. Others, like vending machines, may need a 640x480 7" displays. What about airport informational center? Those will probably need a 12" 800x600 displays. What is important is that GHI NETMF modules can work with all these options. Through a simple call to the GHI managed libraries, a user can set the default settings for display, including resolution, HSYNC, VSYNC and clock.

Read the full story

Friday, February 19, 2010

.NET Micro Framework Partners at Embedded World 2010, Nuremberg

The big embedded show for the year in Europe is coming up and some of the .NET MF partners there have gotten together to present a booth on the .NET Micro Framework. This is the first time that the platform has had it's own booth since we first started. The companies include the full range of services, hardware, and add-on libraries:

Look them up when you are at the show. They will be in hall 11, stand 226.

If you have more time we (.NET MF developers and hardware partners) will meet each other outside the Embedded World somewhere in the city of Nuremberg, more details later.

Still don’t have a free ticket? Get your free 3-day-ticket worth 25 EUR here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Microsoft MVP Award 2010 – Thank you!

mvp Reading my mails today:

Dear Michael Schwarz,

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2010 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in .NET Micro Framework technical communities during the past year.

The Microsoft MVP Award provides us the unique opportunity to celebrate and honor your significant contributions and say "Thank you for your technical leadership."

Now, this is my fifth MVP year started in 2006 with the Microsoft MVP in Visual Studio Development / ASP.NET. I’m really surprised that I got the MVP award again. Thank you Microsoft, a big thank you to all of you!!

2010 will be a great year with new great products! I hope I can still give my best to you and help supporting Microsoft products.