GHI Electronics is introducing a low-cost .NET Gadgeteer mainboard called FEZ Cerberus for $29.95. At the core, it hosts STM32F4 Cortex-M4 DSP 32-bit processor running at 168Mhz. This 100% open source and full-featured addition to the FEZ family allows for cost effective prototyping and eliminates the need for using low-end 8-bit development boards. Thanks to .NET Micro Framework (NETMF), full networking and complete file system support is part of the system. The mainboard can be programmed using C# or VisualBasic with complete debugging capabilities over a USB cable.
Engineering Manager Joe Issa believes open source is helping many developers achieve their goals in less time. He thanks Microsoft for the NETMF sources and Oberon Microsystems for contributing STM32F1 processor support. This gave GHI Electronics a head start in porting NETMF to STM32F4.
The 8 Gadgeteer sockets on FEZ Cerberus are packed with functionalities. “FEZ Cerberus is small and compact yet has many inputs and outputs to control a magnitude of different applications, especially in robotics and home automation,” says Aron Phillips, NETMF Porting Lead, OSH Division.
FEZ Cerberus is also offered in a kit aimed at jump-starting users. This kit can be extended through the numerous available modules on the market.
GHI Electronics didn’t stop at low-cost, we took the cost even lower. FEZ Cerb40 is a $24.95 NETMF board. Smaller than a stick of gum, FEZ Cerb40 uses the same processor and firmware as FEZ Cerberus but instead of exposing sockets, it exposes the processor pins in a DIP40 format. Non-Gadgeteer and Gadgeteer users alike will enjoy this board.
“We believe in Open Source Hardware and we are proud to have FEZ Cerberus and FEZ Cerb40 open,” says Founder and CEO Gus Issa. This allows our TinyCLR.com and the open source communities to contribute to the firmware. It also opens doors for non-NETMF and non-Gadgeteer users to benefit from these powerful boards, thanks to the available JTAG pins.
It’s exactly what I wanted Ant to be. Because Cerberus is LQFP64 instead of LQFP100, it can be significantly smaller. It’s missing JTAG, but that was always a could-have, not a need or event want.
The REALLY amazing news is that it’s open source. That means that those of us with STM32F4-Discovery boards are basically going to be able to dump the firmware straight onto our boards (which run the 100-pin version STM32F407 of Cerberus’ STM32F405). This is an incredible gift to the community!
Tiny little module, CHEAP, and FAST. DIP40, option for building in the 3V3 regulator, it’s EXACTLY everything I could have hoped for the Ant to be!
I just ordered my Cerb40 (or should we rename that FEZ CerbAnt ;)? ), so I’ll get on it ASAP. As soon as the firmware is released, I’ll see what I can do. I would assume Errol will beat me to it, though, as he’s much smarter than I am
I’m extremely excited about this, as the STM32F4 has a giant pile of VERY interesting peripherals which are BEGGING to have drivers written including, but not limited to the hardware CRC calculator, the digital camera interface for VERY cheap cameras, advanced timers with PWM input, encoder interfaces, and hall sensor interfaces, cryptographic accelerator in the 41x versions, hardware RNG, hardware hash calculator, smartcard support on the USART, SDIO, the list goes on! This is very exciting hardware, and GHI, after driving a major software-side advance with the Gadgeteer platform, is now taking the hardware side to the next level with this.
Don’t worry, kurtnelle also called me Error the other day. I think it’s muscle memory, you think one thing and your fingers type another…
My port is targeting the Discovery board directly. It also still had IRQ bugs, and huge flash problems. And i’m ignoring USB at this time…
Note that some of the STM32 goodness isn’t available in the 64 pin chip, like the camera interface, nand interface, external memory interface. I do like the three 2.4MSPS ADCs, and that you can gang them to get 7.2MSPS…
So when will the firmware/schematics/etc be released?