How to get started with my first project?

I am experienced with C# and now I want to start my first microcontroller / electronics project with a gadgeteer board.
The goal of my first project is clear (and seems easy enough):

core goal:
Switch on and off multiple sets of LED chains from an Ethernet controlled board.
I’d buy something like this to controlß

extended goal:
Control multi colored LED chains.
I’d buy something like this:®-Fernbedienung-Controller-Weihnachten-Lichterkette/dp/B00ABW3X92/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1398254316&sr=8-6&keywords=led+lichterkette+bunt

I have no idea about electronics or soldering but I’d like to learn all necessary basics and acquire all physical tools needed.

I guess for turning LED chains on and off I just need a Relay module and for taking over the LED controllers job I need a Breakout TB10 Module, Extender Module or IO60P16 Module.

Measuring the air moisture and temperature in my room while I am at work sounds like fun as well.

Are there any guides for a beginner on my level (I can operate an ammeter) or should I just go ahead, buy the FEZ Raptor R1 Kit and hope that I won’t electrocute myself?

Hi, Akkira,

Go for it and jump in with both feet. I’d recommend the FEZ Cobra II(NET) or FEZ Cobra II(WiFi) as these have the network interface built in and the support is a bit more mature. I’m not sure exactly how you connect Ethernet to the Raptor.

@ Akkira - If you are worried about electrocuting yourself, how would you rate your bare electrical skills?

When talking about using a chain of LEDs, this usually means you are dealing with high voltage or high amperage, depending on how they are wired. In the setup you described, you would be left with wiring the power-source to the relay module. In this case, I would recommend that you have the ability to read an electrical (not electronic) schematic and understand it, for safety.

If you feel that your skills are adequate, then I would also recommend using the FEZ Cobra II with a built-in ethernet or wifi module.

If you feel that your skills could use a little polish before proceeding, I would still recommend the same mainboard, but would recommend that you prototype the lights with 3-5mm LEDs that you can buy at Radio Shack or almost anywhere online.

There some points I’d like to address:

  1. I can’t install “NETMF and Gadgeteer Package 2014 R2 Beta-1” on a computer where both Visual Studio 2012 and 2013 is installed.
    Your installer starts the .net micro framework installer which aborts, which makes your installer abort too. Taking the .net micro framework assemblies from another computer wouldn’t help me in this case.
    I have other computers available though with only VS 2012.

  2. The visual Gadgeteer builder in Visual Studio doesn’t have a “FEZ Cobra II (Net)” available, only the “FEZ Cobra II (Eco)”.
    Is that a problem?
    Should I just chose the Eco version?

  3. I can use an ammeter and I know how transistors work. I have someone in my household who can teach me soldering and has basic electrician knowledge.
    I do not plan to handle any electricity that didn’t went through a transformer. I would only modify existing LED stripes by cutting the cables.

  1. Check if you have .NET 3.5 installed. It’s needed by the micro framework.
    VS2012 and 2013 in parallel is normally no problem.

  2. The “NETMF and Gadgeteer Package 2014 R2 Beta-1” does not support G120 so far, and by this it does not support Cobra II. GHI will support it in a following release.
    So you need to use “NETMF and Gadgeteer Package 2014 R1” so far and NETMF 4.2.

  3. If you use mainly gadgeteer hardware, all you need to know how to plug a cable into a socket.

Unfortunately for now you links are hidden, but I would suggest that for now that you purchase one of the LED modules (if you are not buying a kit that has one) and get familiar with how things work in the NETMF/Gadgeteer world first.

With your experience with C#, you should pick up the coding part easily but it seems that you may want to get familiar with the hardware and its capabilities first before attempting to control your own LED’s.

Here’s the links

Welcome to the forum.

For controller-based LEDs you’d be much better off buying WS2811 based strips and programming them yourself. You avoid needing a large IO bank.

Don’t worry about electrocuting yourself @ Akkira, I always build my best Gadgeteer projects while sitting in the bath tub :slight_smile: as Gadgeteer is very forgiving while wiring it up and playing around with it (one of the many things I love about Gadgeteer).

Might I suggest starting by looking at some of the projects in CodeShare or on YouTube, for example I show how to build a Pulse Oximeter Device in about 10 minutes with Gadgeteer.

Hmmmm. That explains a lot… ;D

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I reinstalled Visual Studio 2012 on my main computer and now the installation worked.