FEZ Panda III

@ Simon from Vilnius - like I said in your other reply, we dropped some unpopular modules, which are accessories. We are sorry this left a bad feeling but we did not drop half the catalog. We did not drop anything all actually, as far as core products.

While this is making living for us and sometimes we have to make some tough decisions, we try our best to involved the community and the customers. At least we try our best when possible.

GHI today is sill manufacturing embedded master modules, ualfat, usbizi and even panda ii for customers using these commercially. Those products were discontinued years ago, long years!!! Again, we try our best so please let’s concentrate on the future and how can we grow this community and offer better products.

@ Simon from Vilnius - and by the way, I agree with you, why panda 3 if we have cerbuino? And this is exactly what this topic is about! Many users prefer panda and we are trying to understand why.

3 Likes

Another thought, maybe the answer to all this is a lower cost option, something with no networking built in? A managed driver fit Wi-Fi or Ethernet can always be accomplished easily.

The USBizi chipset had 512K flash, 96K RAM and decent features (USB Host , RLP , SD etc.), a great fit for most applications, can be incorporated into any design.

Yes, framework support is 4.1, but then has a whole lot changed from there to 4.2.x to 4.3.x ?

At this time the Cerb chip has more Flash and RAM but GHI has to choose between RLP and USB host :think:

I have 6 USBizi boards doing various stuff around my home for several years now and I have no complaints :slight_smile:

For those of you who remember the USBizi devboard, was that not a good one ? for those of you who have not seen one, look at the attached image.

1 Like

@ Rajesh - there was no graphics and no networking then.

@ Gus

Yes, but did we not have the option to use the Wiznet Ethernet ? Agreed that the old W5100 was a little difficult to use, but the newer W5500 chips are a lot better. This may not be tightly integrated with the NETMF networking but then is that something that we can work with by offloading networking to a dedicated chip instead of using the Microchip PHY ?

Regarding graphics, isn’t this based on SPI displays like the N18 module ? I have not used graphics on the Cerb but does it contain image (BMP/JPG) support ?

I am sorry to pick on these but my knowledge of the latest on NETMF and the Cerb could be a little dated :slight_smile:

@ Rajesh - using sockets is not exactly the same as using the built in networking, for the flexibility and for the ease of use.

Graphics include the bitmap class and bmp file parsing. Yes displays over spi but you are using fonts and bitmaps just like the larger offers.

@ Gus - Forgive me for being a bit simple, but what exactly was the USBizi chipset? Was this just a NXP chip with some form of GHI licence fused in? If so it sounds like a really useful thing for those who want to build custom mainboards.

@ hagster - correct, similar to our alfat chips today.

Please, no WiFi (it will blow the cost to >$100), and please no BLE (it will blow the cost to >$75), and please no display (it will blow the cost to >$60).

My guess is Cerbuino is not long for the world, because it was never popular, while Panda/Panda II were. My guess.

I’d leave out graphics (no BMP). I would also not require WizNet. They’re EXPENSIVE (I can get two whole ENC28J60 modules, ready to go, for what a single W5500 bare IC will cost me), and they’re limited (8 sockets… better than W5100, but still…).

Using the STM32F42x/3x, you get 1-2MB flash and 256K RAM, all together with 180MHz clock speed. That ought to be plenty for solid ENC networking.

If you think you need LVDS and lots of RAM to do fast graphics, watch this: Display Optimization Demo - YouTube
That’s running on a Teensy 3.1, which is 72MHz and has 64K RAM. It’s using Teensy’s ability to run the SPI clock at 24 MHz. The STM32F42x/3x can run the SPI clock at up to 90 MHz! Even the F40x can run the SPI clock at up to 84 MHz.

1 Like

@ Gus - in that case it sounds like a great idea. There are so many more people building custom boards these days that it would probably be used a lot. I guess with the Panda this option was mainly taken up by corporate customers. And with TKA(and some sort order pooling) it could be very interesting.

It’s not a Panda, it’s a Quail and it’s already alive.

STM32F427
2MB flash
USB mass-storage
4 standard MikroBus sockets, with each pin individually (easily) addressable if needed
23 other exposed GPIO
VBAT pin exposed
2 x (3.3V, GND, 5V) screw terminals
GND-3.3V-SCL-SDA terminal
SPI + GND-3.3V-5V terminal
2 users leds
Rock-solid Mountaineer Prime firmware
Pure NETMF
Complete documentation with examples for each driver (ex : http://www.lsp-fr.com/mikrobus.net/downloads/ThunderClick.chm )

If Quail is too much, then a 3 MikroBus sockets version is in progress : Tuatara. Working prototype expected in the next few weeks (4 - 5 weeks I hope).

5 Likes

There’s no reason this should happen. There are now several options that should not require more than $15-$20 in additional parts. The “premium” firmware tax is already added. So, (in theory) that shouldn’t increase.

1 Like

Why I prefer the Panda 2 (and I have 8 of them, running all of my home automation):

  • pin layout. The basic Arduino pins are difficult to work on (perfboards). The Panda2 was a game-changer with the “rows” of extended pins at the end of the board. With just 2 rows of headers you can do everything (power it, communicate on the COM Port, etc.). You can keep the “Arduino” headers for the shields (I have the network shield, PLEASE bring it back…). The sheer number of pins is also perfect. I can think of no project where you can run out of pins on a Panda 2. On a Domino yes, already did that.

  • price. It was cheaper than the Domino before it. And the USB Host is not a must, the most common scenario is without it.

My opinion: if we are using the Fez mainboards it is because we like .NET. Raspberry Pi is a very cheap alternative, but it’s not .NET. Arduino clones are cheaper but they are not .Net.
We use Fez boards because they are tied to Visual Studio.

Soldering some wires is not that problematic and the shields or gadgeteer blocks, while easy to use, do not cover our specific needs. That’s why the gadgeteer blocks, for some demanding users like me, are more difficult to use than 2 rows of headers.

Also, do not forget that the general (false) impression is that the .Net Micro Framework is getting abandoned. All of the libraries are for Arduino & Pi, etc. A lot of first-time users migrated to Pi & other types of cards, thinking GHI has left the business.

Please bring the perfboard friendly pinout back!!!

1 Like

https://www.ghielectronics.com/community/forum/topic?id=16626

This issue in this thread is why I like the Panda boards over Cerb anything. They just worked, even after a firmware update. All my Pandas are all still working several years later. I can’t say the same for the Cerb boards I’m trying to update to 4.3.3. I’m sure GHI will figure out what the issue is eventually, but in the meantime I can’t try out RoSchmi’s cool new RNXV driver for the Cerb Bee…

It goes without saying, but vNext anything has got to have well tested rock solid firmware before it goes up for sale.