Main Site Documentation

GHI Electronics and ARM’s mbed, another perfect match


#1

Yesterday, we opened another avenue to our customers, to those wishing to program natively, closer the metal. The mBuino Platform is live now at http://mbed.org/platforms/outrageous-circuits-mbuino/.

As you may know by now this avenue is called Outrageous Circuits and the platform started with the mBuino Development board, a smart programmable keychain. Starting with this platform, we developed many simple, fun and outrageous circuits. Circuits like, an electronics dice, an LED roulette, an LED picture frame and more. All of these hobby targeted circuits are available on our secondary website, http://www.OutrageousCircuits.com

Why mbed? When someone asks us what do we do at GHI Electronics, we say we are [em]“where hardware meets software”[/em], a software development company that sells hardware not software! This has been our unique and very successful business model for over 10 years. As we always seek to expand the possibilities for our customers and to find a native programming solution for our customers, we found mbed to be the answer. mbed is an online compiler combined with a complete framework to expose the hardware in a simpler form. There is nothing to install, everything runs right in the browser, which can be on any modern operating system! The compiled binary is then loaded on the hardware using just a USB cable. If desired, the project can be downloaded and used in a commercial IDE for debugging.

As for our commercial customers and the main GHI Electronics website, we are working on few ideas with ARM’s mbed team. We are open to suggestions and wish lists while we are still on the drawing board.

Going forward most announcements for Outrageous Circuits will be on the Outrageous Circuits website and the Outrageous Circuits forum board within the GHI community. To make sure you receive the latest Outrageous Circuits news please subscribe to the RSS feed found at http://www.outrageouscircuits.com.

Outrageous Circuits: http://www.outrageouscircuits.com
Outrageous Circuits mBuino mbed Platform: http://mbed.org/platforms/outrageous-circuits-mbuino/
Outrageous Circuits Forum: http://www.ghielectronics.com/community/forum/board?id=31
Outrageous Circuits RSS Feed: http://www.outrageouscircuits.com/news/rss


#2

:think:

I’m not sure where this fits your “focus and quality” mantra…


#3

mbed is great BUT NEEDS DEBUGGING. I am still not able to produce error-free code in first try.

But cool for outrageous stuff.


#4

@ Simon from Vilnius - The phrase “work hard - play hard” comes to mind. Why not give the engineers a creative outlet to design fun circuits that don’t necessarily fit into the GHI ecosystem?


#5

@ njbuch - you can debug of you want. Details to come when we are ready.


#6

I think i miss the genes to get excited :whistle: back to unproductive C/C++ :think:


#7

And what about both then you get to pick? I wish I can say more but time will come.


#8

I keep an eye on what the future brings 8)


#9

The online mBed stuff has no debugging, correct? You need to set up a local Eclipse/GDB/etc environment?


#10

@ godefroi - correct


#11

I thought the saying was “Play Hard - Nap Hard”


#12

@ Blue Hair Bob - Where do I sign up?


#13

That is true, and I do that myself. After weeks of looking at the same code trying to catch a yet another invisible bug, I also want to do something easy, fun and carry no responsibility and no support. It’s ok with that. We all do it.

What does concern me, though, that this mbed initiative is now involving everyone — PCB designers, programmers, PnP robot operators and even CEO. It doesn’t look like a side project “for fun” anymore. I’s a full-scale, company-wide initiative, and it’s hard for me to believe that it doesn’t draw significant amount of resources from NETMF part, especially when I still have to live with many very annoying bugs that need to be taken care of.

Just my opinion of how it all looks from this side of the ocean.

P.S. You have recently dropped two boxes of modules that you couldn’t support, and now baking new ones at the same speed!..


#14

@ Simon from Vilnius - I look at it from the perspective that the engineers are getting a good opportunity to learn how development works in the rest of the embedded world. I think this will lead to better and more agile NETMF ports.


#15

I also took it that the reason certain other modules went into the discontinued pile was because no matter how cool we thought they were, they weren’t worth keeping in assembled/tested/ready-to-go stock, and were just moved to the not-quite-instant-gratification pile (and their drivers will no longer be updated). Not because they couldn’t support them, just that they made a financial cost vs benefit decision to no longer support them.


#16

Let me apologize up front for my long winded response.

While I understand that there is limited bandwidth in a company and I know first hand the amount of tasks and the often limited time to perform those tasks. In this situation, you have to look at the products, these are really simple circuits that sell for $10. We honestly spent more time learning the inner workings of mbed as far as updating the SDK for a new platform, etc than we did on the actual design of the circuit and the software. And while you may see involvement from the CEO and other members of the management team, it doesn’t mean that it hurts focus or quality and I would still argue that type of side project (even though its company wide) actually helps in other areas. I also know these things because I am in the middle of it and I know who spent what time doing what tasks. I can see where on the outside it might appear differently

Also, the statement about baking new modules at the same speed of the discontinued ones isn’t quite true. The new stuff you are seeing, is either new or next generation NETMF or Gadgeteer core related products. In fact you are seeing them now because we are focusing on the core and improving it, in both areas of hardware and software. Again, I can see where from the outside the perspective might be different but we spent months analyzing every aspect of the business and began an internal restructure designed to bring about new innovation with a focus on quality and we included the OC side circuits as a part of this. This process is not an overnight process and has been in the working for the past several months.

With all of that being said, I think we have a great community and customer base that understands that everything we do is for the best, for the company as well as the community.


#17

Business speaking, the music module for example was weeks of frustrating development and was sill not perfect, and then sales didn’t support keeping it on the shelf as a stock item.

We got mbuino done in a weekend while smoking expensive cigars and drinking beer! And then we sold a thousand!

Anyway, we do not need to share our business internals but we are surely here because we love our community. And not every decision is based on dollar value!

We have always been dynamic and transparent and we will continue to listen and improve. Those that were around in the “panda days” understand how fun this community was. We made things and we shared with others. In comparison, all we have now are support questions. The exciting days are coming back, and before the holidays. :slight_smile:


#18

@ Gus - Bring back fun contests! :wink:


#19

@ Gus, @ Gary, I like the tone of this - you don’t have to justify any of the changes you are working on. Sometimes you need to drop products - sometimes you need to fire customers. Sometimes you do things in business because you [em]want[/em] to because the business is yours, not the public’s. I am thrilled that you are working toward making it fun for you again!


#20

@ Blue Hair Bob - Very good point. Communicating that concept can be hard, especially when you have such a strong and vocal community as the one that GHI has built.

It’s very easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize. @ Gus and his team are the ones investing in infrastructure (all those fancy machines to speed assembly and get product to users at lower prices) and navigating the waters of what Microsoft and other vendors are or aren’t doing from a platform support standpoint.

I think the Outrageous Circuits project is a cool idea…make fun electronics that are both cheap and hackable. Given that it’s C++, it won’t be for everyone, but I don’t think that’s the point. It’s another way to engage those with an interest in the maker world.