When Panda II was discontinued, I left for Arduino land, as the Gadgeteer boards were not the best alternative for my projects. I am impressed with the ease of use of the Auduino IDE and boards. An important consideration for me is the lifecycle of the product. I started out with FEZ Domino and made the easy transition to FEZ Panda. I felt stranded when Panda II was discontinued. I am glad to see it is back! I hope to be back to GHI boards in the future. Thanks for the product update!
Welcome back. If you liked the old panda you will love the new one.
Yes Panda is back.
But I will not buy it.
When I started developing with FEZ boards the Panda 2 just came out.
Then it was on the market for 2 years and it was suddenly discontinued without ANY replacement and without ANY understandable reason because the USBIZI chip was still in production.
GHI told that you can still buy the Panda 2 with a special order.
But this meant a minimum order quantity of 150 boards with the incredible price of $8500 dollar.
We are a small company who made the error to trust in GHI electronics for our hardware development and we were not willing to pay that usury.
Now the Panda 3 is out. It came far too late and I suppose that in two years more (2017) it will be discontinued again.
My trust in products from GHI is exactly zero after this experience.
The Panda 3 is NOT a compatible replacement for the Panda 2. It has another chip and all my RLP code will have to be rewritten. And this is just the hardest part.
I found that the Arduino Due y Arduino Mega have the same pinout as the Panda 3. The range of price is very similar.
A big problem with all FEZ boards is the extremely difficult programming.
Before GHI forced the users to install Visual Studio 2010 to program the Panda 2.
Now they force the users to install VS 2013 for the Panda 3.
Each time I need a new version of VS that I do not need for anything else than to program a Panda.
Then install the .NET Micro Framework and then the GHI libraries.
These are several megabytes and takes a lot of time to install.
On a developer machine it is OK.
But what happens if my company has clients in other countries that have to update the firmware in a FEZ board ?
Theoretically you can use MFDeploy to load the firmware on the board.
But MFDeploy really sucks because it simply does NOT work. Lots of people report this problem.
So I have to tell my clients in other countries to install Visual Studio, the Micro framework and the GHI libraries (all with the correct version!) and send them the source code (which I don’t want) to upgrade the firmware in their boards. But they are not programmers. They have never used Visual Studio.
On the other hand it is ultra easy to upgrade the firmware on an Arduino board.
I send my clients a little HEX file and they use the firmware uploader (a little EXE with ~ 2 megabyte size).
Every non-programmer can do that with three clicks.
GHI never cared to create an easy solution to upgrade the firmware with a few clicks. For me this ALONE is a knock out criteria.
The drivers for the FEZ boards are not WHQL tested. When Microsoft proves drivers they assure that the driver work correctly in ALL conditions. The drivers from GHI would fail in that test because when the computer goes to Stand By or Sleep while a COM port was still open the connection with the board is lost. The poor user has to first close the COM port in the application, disconnect the USB cable and connect it again twice and open the port again. It may even be necessary to close the entire application after the computer went to Stand By. This really sucks.
Another problem I had with FEZ boards was the lack of functionality in .NET.
I wanted to control a Dynamixel servo which uses a RS485 bus. It was necessary to tie the TX and RX pins of the FEZ COM port together and use a pull up resistor. But there is no way to tell in .NET code that the processor should make the TX pin tristate after sending data. I had to write a very ugly code accessing some cryptic registers to get this working. (And these registers are different in each FEZ board!)
Then I needed the Panda2 to operate the UART with 1.000.000 baud. This is also impossible in .NET. The resulting frequency is not exact and the servo does not respond. Why does the GHI library not already have a ready to use class to completely control a Dynamixel servo?
Another example: You want to output a digital signal on 3 digital pins simultaneously and with high speed and with interrupts disabled. There is no way to do that in .NET.
For all these problems you have to ask in the forum and may be you get an ugly workaround. But why does the GHI library not implement all these functions ? It is highly incomplete. Lot of IMPORTANT stuff exists only as feature request. And GHI does not care.
When I already have to write so much RLP code in C why not directly program an Arduino entirely in C ?
– Arduino surely will not be discontinued in 2017.
– Developing for Arduino is very easy. The ONLY thing that I really miss is Intellisense.
– And it is really easy to upgrade the firmware of the board to a new version.
@ Elmue - To add some fuel into the flame… Panda III does not actually have RLP
@ Elmue - sorry to hear that. I think there is a lot of miscommunication and misinformation in your post. We will happily be here to help you out in any way possible when you are ready to give it another shot.
@ Elmue - Sounds like you’ve already moved on…so why are you here dumping on GHI’s product offerings? If you’ve found something that works better for your needs, that’s great for you. I don’t really understand what your purpose is in sharing your anger with GHI on this thread.
You’re disappointed at the discontinuation of Panda II. We get it. You’re frustrated with your perception of lack of support. Most of us would strongly disagree there, but you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.
What’s not clear is the purpose of your post, beyond venting your spleen. If you want help, it’s waiting for you. If all you’re here to do is criticize, perhaps there’s a better use of your time?
@ Elmue - I fully support your decision to use Arduino. Would you like us to recommend a forum where you constructively contribute?
Don’t agree. I just completed a port of an old Dynamic C programme to the Cerbuino Bee running C# and it took me only 2 hours to get it working. Original code was 3 days.
PS… Good luck with your Arduino and complete lack of debugging. C# and NETMF wins any day over Arduino for that fact alone.
He’s not talking about development, he’s talking about sending the firmware to the board. Simple if you have Visual Studio and the source available, more complex if you don’t (apparently; I’ve never tried).
I see your point but if that is the case, I’ve found that a copy of FezConfig and all of the files in that directory was all I needed to send to the client.
@ Dave McLaughlin - FezConfig wasn’t available back in the Panda II days. However poorly communicated, his gripes are valid. I understand the “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” sentiment here, but pretending that everything is perfect rainbows and unicorns isn’t helpful either.
@ godefroi - It’s not about acting like everything is perfect but there is something called “constructive criticism” versus picking a random post to vent whatever bothers you. Now when it comes to constructive criticism, we do listen. In fact we have been and will probably still be able to be persuaded based on the argument. I know that I have changed my opinion based on the community, I will never tell you who or what openly, but it does happen and probably happens more than you think. 8) But like always when this debate comes up, there are limited people inside and outside the company who are a part of those meetings. And I truly believe that the changes in the company infrastructure allows for better support and better products.
I don’t disagree at all, it wasn’t the place for the venting, and it wasn’t an effective way to communicate them. We should provide constructive criticism
lol…When don’t you (just kidding)?
@ Gary - I don’t pretend it’s always constructive
I just wish Panda III had RLP support and it was based off G120 which supports RLP as opposed to G80. I use FEZ Panda II in one of our products and had to order a special run for buying and stocking as it went EOL. Glad to see FEZ Panda III has come out. It is mechanically pin compatible Panda II but getting the same functionality to work without RLP will be a challenge. Zut, FEZ Cobra III and is based on G120 and supports RLP and but does not have the same mechanical mating for the 2x20 IDC connector.
@ Safxzm - at least you have the great options to choose from and they all will be around for years to come