Apoligies before hand but I'm really stuck

Hello users, I already like this place. :slight_smile: I apoiligize if I seem like a child in a toy store,

Before we start, I’m dyslexic & I apoligize for my horrific grammer;
I’ve always liked the idea of microcontroller programming & home automation so as soon as I found out it was availible for C# coders to start, I’ve pulled up the research books. I am a single parent & have 0 money, little time & absolutly nothing in my life for myself fun wise. So, I’m looking to buy a microcontroller but as I’m sure it has been said before, I can’t deciede on which one. I do plan to try and become a respected member here & this is not a passing phase so to speek.

I’m stuck between the FEZ Panda II or the FEZ Cerbuino. I have been looking at many, many different components but I can’t afford to waste my money so I have to ask.

I plan to buy a board I can use for the big projects I have planned later, hence why I decieded against the Netduino branch.
I need Wifi capability, communcation with my device.
I need GSM (calls, text & data) so it can access the internet, call & text another phone, by itself.
I need SD card capabilites. (8GB)
I need to be able to control a number of motors. (Good old tanks tracks & a gripping arm.)
I need to be able to have it battery powered.
I’d like to spend as little as possible.
Eventually I plan to be using a touchscreen for user input, a speech recongition & a camera too but this are not a priority right now.

I’m not worried about making it look pretty & I understand, no-one gets everything they ask for. I’m fluent in C# & through reading & my grandad (Electrician 40+ years) I’m coming to grips with the electronics side of things very quickly.

So what would the community recommend?
Thank you for reading & any input is appreciatted. Please answer with the point in mind that is probably the only thing I will buy myself in the next 5 years.

Motors for tank, robot arm… Cellular data…battery powered. This all adds up to someone make a remote presence to harrass a dog or cat while at work.

software wise, unless you need anything in the premium library I think cerbuino is the way to go. It has 3 gadgeteer sockets and a wack of general Io. Personally i dont care about the duino shield comparability but the cerbuino is pretty tough to beat price wise for an entry/generalist gadgeteer board (doesn’t need the red power boards like the other solutions.

You didn’t say how much processing you’re doing which may be a reason to go more upscale. But if you’re starting out, why not setup the visual studio express and gadgetteer emulators (free), start coding and ball park your target application to see if you can fit it in the Cerberus family max footprint.

Panda2, popular - cheap. But no gadgeteer makes it a no starter for me.

Hiya Kommon, welcome to the forums.

Here’s a few “food for thought” items.

Panda II is based on USBizi100 chip; this line, while still supported, is unlikely to get a supported NetMF4.2 codebase for it, so it’s somewhat “end of the line”. It’ll still work in 5 years time, but you’ll be pretty much locked into the NetMF4.1 codebase.

Cerbuino is the “new blood”, but is an open source offer, which means that the firmware isn’t as complete as the 4.1 codebase of USBizi family, but it’ll have longer legs; there’s a good amount of momentum to fill the gaps at the moment, so you’ll see some good things coming to the Cerberus family soon. The one thing you won’t get is wireless; there’s an NDA requirement that means the code to manage the RS21 interface is closed to all but GHI, but the XBee type wireless 802.11 may be possible (not sure). PPP (for GSM) is also something I’m not sure what will be on offer in this line.

Either way you’re likely to get a more than useable device, and something that will be great to tinker with.

Add into your profile your location, you might find someone close by to share info with.

Thank you both for your great replies.

Dr9, now you’ve mentioned it, harrasing pets sounds very, very fun. :smiley: I’ve been 70/30 towards the cerb all day & thank you for confirming it. I am planning some ‘heavy’ work for my board & eventually believe I’ll have to move up to some of the beasts I’ve seen around. I’ll have a play with the emualtors tomorrow.

Brett, thank you for the warm welcome. :slight_smile: I had read about the Pandas firmware ‘dying out’ so to speak, that di worry me a bit.
If I had GSM Data capabilites then I suppose I could go without wifi. The heart to most my ideas are a phone connection of sorts so I might ignore the wifi until I’m rich. :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve been looking at http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/catalog/cellular-shield-with-sm5100b-p-490.html & drooling but I’m sure with my luck, it just won’t work.
Thanks for your advice, very useful. & for the tip about my location.

Thanks again, :slight_smile:

There are a few other UK folk around so that’s good news for you - although not sure where everyone else is…

Anyway, I don’t think you can go wrong with Cerbuino, the team here are always improving things. They don’t have the memory of some of their larger cousins, but then again they’re pretty small in comparison too :slight_smile: It’s so often a trade-off between features, memory, and size… but it’ll serve you well, I am sure.

There are always ways to work around some of the connectivity you need too, but they aren’t always smooth or clean, like the pre-built options are, depending on how your electronics and programming skills are - which I fail both of :slight_smile:

Good luck on it all !

I wouldn’t say “won’t”. RS21 isn’t the only (or cheapest, or easiest, or lowest-resource) option. If it sounds like I’m implying “stay tuned”, then it should.

Brett, Thanks, I thought I’d have to improve my equipment as soon as I saw some of the stuff availible! Luckly, I’m quite good the C#/VB/MSIL.

godefroi, I was just about to go to sleep but now you’ve said that, I feel like a child the week before christmas!

I must ask as I’ve not read anything confirming it yet & don’t trust my own judgement, it is possible to use an SD card like computer would a USB stick right? Reading & writing data @ runtime, I mean. Has anyone found it very slow r & w to SD? & Lastly, has anyone used the reflection namespace? I’m dying to find out, it could mean memory for coding is infinite, thoereticlly.

Edit: I just bought the Cerbuino! :smiley:

Cerbuino is a good choice. My personal favorite platform is the Cerb40, though I also own a Panda II and a CANextra.

Reading and writing the SD card is just like doing it on a computer. The only difference is that there’s no C:\ or D:\ drive, just a root folder. It’s not ESPECIALLY fast, but it’s generally fast enough.

As for reflection, most of it is there, but not all of it. I also don’t believe you can unload assemblies, just like you can’t on the desktop framework.

Ahh, I can’t see the Emit namespace working to well. My first plan is to try and convert the simple engine I made to run C#/VB from ‘scripts’ so it can be used to run code from the web or SD & use the web or my network to report any debugging straight back to my machine, such a fun day today.

Unfortunately this is not true in here, because to unload Assemblies you would have to unload the whole AppDomain… (although you can create new AppDomains in NETMF but loading Assemblies into the newly created AppDomain proved to not work correctly in 4.1) i haven’t tried it with the latest 4.2 yet…

You may want to check out the wiki i wrote here, please feel to update and improve where you see fit…

and for your Debugging you may want to check out my Exception logger to give you an idea…


oh i forgot here is an Old project that might be of interest:


Dynamically loading assemblies from SD or other storage works fine; see Pyxis2 for a great example of what can be done with that. Unfortunately, unloading them was not possible as of 4.1, as Jay Jay said.

Cerb <- The future. Fez Panda (The incumbant)

The Cerb has a higher clock speed and thus will execute your code faster. Also, it’s based on a platform that is beginning to take off as opposed to the legacy “Adruino” compatible stuff that is being left behind. The Fezes still work awesome, an I’m sure at some point GHI is going to deprecate all of them and have a “blowout sale”. That will be the best possible time to purchase a Fez Panda :wink:

@ Gus, any timeline on that “blowout sale”?

I doubt this will ever happen! Cerbuino can replace panda but not for every use. it is faster but panda is still premium and is very stable and well used by thousands. Cerb-family is still a baby.

Oh wow, some great replies & support. I’m not too worried about appdomains, I use a different method, I’ll post as soon as I can confirm it’s working or not.

Jay Jay thanks for the great links!

Anyone ordered from the main site to the UK? I can’t sit still waiting for delivery! XD

Nah, I believe that the gadgeteer will overtake it. Look how fast the Fez Family rose to power, It’s been what 2.5 years since the Fez Domino.