G120 Module


My name is Rogério and first off, I beg pardon for my bad english and for my long post, but my projects requirements are for very large companies and I need the most number of information before my final decision. I represent my company in Brazil. Here we work with industrial projects mainly targeting telecoms and energy industries. And we are searching reduce some costs on our microcontrollers that we use and, of course, trying to get .NET developers to work with microcontrollers.

My questions is about the G120 module.

  1. Is this module mature enough to use in industrial projects? I mean, is not mainly targeted to hobbyists?

  2. We need to build our own board, using FEZ Cobra II (Net) as a base board. Is this possible? I mean, is this board open-source? And of course, the G120 Module is open-source too? There are licenses or copyrights here that forbidden building custom boards for these products?

  3. We need sqlite on our projects. I see that G120 module supports sqlite, is this correct? And I see too that sqlite is part of a “premium library”. How can I buy this “premium library”? It comes bundled when I buy a G120 module? And this “premium library” can be used in a custom board?

  4. Like I said before, we will build a custom board. How can I deploy the NETMF on a “virgin” (new) G120 microcontroller (LPC1788FET180)? I need a hardware programmer? Or this microcontroller comes with a embedded .NET loader? A guide should be enough, but I find no one.

I realy don´t know if this forum is the correct channel to talk about these subjects. So, if not, can we discuss this by another way?



@ Xevious - Welcome to the forum.

  1. All Premium SoM’s (EMX, G120, G400) are also targeted for industry.
    OSHW as well if they are powerfull enough.
    I have resently finished a project for an 3 lettered German car manufacturer using a G120 based custom board.

  2. We built a custom G120 based board, with a specific foot print (connectors, …) based on the Cobra II design. The schematics of Cobra board are available in Catalog under resources.
    G120 SoM is not open source, but that’s not really necessary. By bying the SoM gives you all the licenses you need.

  3. Never used SQLite, but others do. You can use the premium library on any premium SoM for free (no additional costs).

  4. You can use the same tools as for Cobra II, FEZConfig (is included in the free SDK) for Firmware.
    Then develop and deploy with Visual Studio 2012. (Free Express version is enough)
    Then you create an hex file of your app directly from board with FEZConfig which you can deploy to many boards with FEZConfig again.
    Alternatively you can use MFDeploy which is included in the NETMF SDK from Microsoft (also free and open source).

This forum is the perfect place to discuss these topics.
You don’t need to give all your project details here. Just ask for advice or when you need help.

@ Reinhard has done a great job answering your questions. I would also add a few other things here… I’m not associated with GHI but think these are important facts you should know

GHI can be contacted directly to work with you on design work if needed; they do this for other commercial customers (who don’t ever come to the “public” place that is this forum).

The Cobra 2 boards are what GHI provides as reference designs for the community to leverage. You can use them as a starting point for your own design.

G120 is a “module” and must be bought as a module - the detailed design of the G120 is NOT open, but as @ Reinhard says you don’t need it to. You won’t find a way to easily get a “raw” processor and load the GHI netmf onto it, that’s what GHI have done for you, so don’t consider this (there is more work than you can imagine into “porting” the framework onto a new processor). This is essentially what the “Premium” branding is for, all the GHI value-added content.

hope that helps

@ Xevious - As Reinhard and Brett has said, the G120 SoM is not Open Sourced. You also do not purchase the premium libraries. As long as you use a premium SoM (like G120) you have access to the software. Also as already stated, the best thing for you to do would be to use the Cobra II to get an idea of how to incorporate the G120 on a custom board. I know this is only reiterating what has already been stated, but this is to simply show that GHI agrees with what Brett and Reinhard has said.

Thank you for your kind attention. I really appreciate.

For what we here read and understand, by all you said:

  1. The G120 module comes with the “premium library” license? So, for the G120 price, I get the “premium library” too?

  2. And that is much more easy (and worth) to me buy the G120 module from GHI than build ourselves? About this question, here in Brazil is much more cheaper to buy the components separately than buying the complete module. This happens here because of the incredible high import taxes that Brazil government imposes on manufactured products. For a idea, the G120 module “suffer” from a additional of 60% on the price that GHI sell me. If I bought the components separately (the LPC1788FET180 and others), this additional lowers to 15-25% approximately. Is a significant impact in the final product.

Well, but for now that´s ok for me. The G120 module price is very good compared to others microcontrollers (for what it does and for energy saving), and even with a additional of 60% on the price, it worth.

Best for all and maybe in 2014 we shall be buying some G120 modules to begin. But the board we will build ourselves, of course.

Happy 2014 for all of you.

  1. yes, G120 comes with premium library. No additional costs if you buy the module from GHI or distributer.

  2. If I remember right, GHI sometimes mentioned that you could get a license to build modules on your own, but only on higher volumes. Please don’t rely on this, that’s just something I think I read somewhere. You should contact them directly via this link:
    But I think building your own SoM is not as cheap as you might think. The SoM is an 8 layer circuit board I think, Cobra II should have 4 layers.

At least for your 1st steps I would recommend to buy a Cobra II or a G120HDR + a couple of Gadgeteer modules.
If you ron short on CPU power on your 1sttest, you even could switch to the more power full G400. But the G120 is also not bad at all.

A happy 2014 to you too.
I hope we see you here in the forum next year.

@ Xevious - Oi Rogerio, bom bia!

Welcome to the forum, sorry I’m a bit late in my reply.

We’ve been using the EMX in an industrial application for a couple of years, and planned to move to the G120. That was put on hold waiting for some firmware issues to be resolved (failure to detect USB disconnection and lack of hibernate), so we are still using the EMX.

As you say, importation into Brazil is expensive (and difficult), and it is best to bring things in as low-cost components and do the value-adding locally. In our case the “low-cost” level is likely to be loaded PCBs, however, with the mechanical assembly done locally.

We have a small company set up (in Sao Luis, MA) for this purpose.