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Making decisions is not easy!


Long story but bare with me…
So far, we had 2 customers attempted to make their own low cost version of FEZ. We thought we would help and make the design for them so they can produce it. We called it FEZ Panda.
We hard many users complaining about soldering SMT parts so we thought, lets even produce this VERY VERY cheap FEZ Panda for them! We can put all SMT parts and keep it way too cheap and then soldering headers. But, some users do not know how to solder the headers!! Now, do we ship with headers or without? This makes about $10 price difference. We are no in China, placing TH headers manually is very expensive!

That is not all! We also wanted to expose all IOs, like users want (not sure why you need 60+ IOs but you asked for it). So now the second decision is, do we make the board the size of FEZ Domino or make it larger? We tried to do the layout and surely enough, we were able to expose every single IO on a board that is the size of FEZ Domino. The problem is that the board is too busy with IOs. So we thought, lets make it as big as the Ardunio Mega but this will double the raw PCB cost. Double PCB size = double cost!! But we want this very cheap, right?


  1. Is the main goal is to make it easy or cheap? We have many Freakin’ Easy boards so can we concentrate on making this cheap even if ti is slightly less easy…it is still Freakin’ Easy :slight_smile:
  2. Header are placed or left out to users to place? I mean no headers for cheap or with headers for $10 more? Note that users who do no want to solder can use FEZ Domino or any other FEZ.
  3. Small and cheap or large with nicer layout but costs more?

The image below shows the layout (samples come next week). Even if we were to place headers. We would only place the ones on the sides like FEZ Domino and Arduino.

We will should have a meeting about this to discuss further (maybe use our new chat) but I want to see what you think.


Love it. Love it love it love it.

One thing I notice (I think). VBAT. Gone? Now a NC? :frowning:

What I am hoping is: with the ard-compatible headers, have them facing one way, have all the others soldered the other way, so you could still “shield” the board with an existing ard shield and the other side you could do a “custom” shield or .1" connectors however you choose, but it won’t foul the ard shield. Obviously that would require double-sided solder pads and thruplating so is something that would have to be baked into the design.


No battery, no RTC, no SD (but you can use SDexp just like FEZ Mini), no USB host…cheap means less :slight_smile: but you still get many many many IOs!!! I doubt anyone will be able to use them all :wall:

It is now listed in the comparison table

Note that we have layout now and some samples coming Monday but anything can still change anytime.


I think the goal should be to make it as cheap as possible. If someone wants something more, that’s what the Domino is for.


totally get that Gus. Just an observation that I personally made (since I have a somewhat vested interest in it :)) plus i intend to use RTC.

Oh Chris, of course there’s Rhino as an equal alternative if ard-shields weren’t your main reason for wanting IOs :slight_smile:


So if you are paying the same price, would you like the board to look like what I showed before or look like arduino mega?
Now if the mega version is $5 more would you pay that? or stick to the domino size?

Mega is more organized but it is too bulky I think. The current panda layout is busy but the board is small and cute…pins are still labeled…so what would you pick?


I like the Arduino Mega layout better.


This is Amazing!
Look at the way you put things on that such a small board.

Exactly is my dream board.
My dream is coming true. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t care that much about battery, RTC, or SD.
I’m sure that I can use all of those stuffs, RTC, SD, LIPO battery etc. that I experimented with Arduino and reuse them with this new Panda board. Don’t have to reinvest on the things I already have.

Mega is more organized but it is too bulky I think.
I totally agreed! I like the size of FEZ Domino. Small but a lot more power.

One other reason, that I like FEZ better than Arduino is because the way we use Visual Studio and NETMF. Arduino have too many libraries for the same components, ie. Real Time Clock., I some time lost track of which library I used to use with that component. Using assemblies in C# seem to be a lot more practical for me.

Probably me, youre referring to…

Here is why I need a lot of pins. (see picture)
This is the DIY Arduino 328 that I worked on sometime ago.
I have to use extra Atmega 328 to gain access to more pins.
So I can have SD Card, temperature, and CsD as well as GMS/GPS on one board, etc.


I do like the mega layout. The issues with doing that layout is should be specified it is not a mega copy. Being that it won’t have the right native pwm,analog count. With this in mind it could be a issue doing the mega format. To be honest the first thing i thought of was can i make a shield to separate out all that I/O which maybe the real solution. Compact form for those that want and a 10-15 dollar shield that breaks it out more. Hell i don’t know that really is a hard choice.


This is kin dof interesting as it makes it both less expensive, and easy board as well as making it possible to just use it as the guts for ones own design. Very cool!


I would like to suggest a “middle ground” options.

I agree that we don’t need to make this compatible with anything an Arduino Mega might use (there are some shields with that form factor but who cares!)

What I would like though is some “structure”. Use standard length headers where possible, and if you can use two-row headers (male preferred by me) that you can use something like a long IDE ribbon cable connector onto (I intended to use 16-way connectors for plugs like
) Having a smattering of single row headers all over the board doesn’t really make for easy more permanent connection when you want to move a project from breadboard to enclosure.


I’d appreciate small and cheap for the base board!


What if it was something in between and Arduino and Arduino Mega, in terms of size?



The mega is too big. Domino is too small. So let’s make something in between? ::slight_smile:


With current size, it is impossible to make the headers any different. It is amazing already that we are able to fit all we have now!

Making the board larger = more cost and if you are adding more cost then why not just make a mega-similar layout?


Ok, but that’s another arduino copy. ::slight_smile:


I’m not sure it needs to be a new design. If it’s just a cheap board that anyone can buy and learn from, I think the design goal is met.


It is okay yo be a arduino copy…this is the point anyways! We want Arduino users consider trying FEZ. So, the price has to be close to arduino.


How about an idea like bstag mentioned. Have shields for the current design with one being able to convert the IO to a Arduino compatible output. It’ll add to the cost but it’ll make it more flexible.

This looks perfect for interfacing a 4" touchscreen I have.


Not sure I understand. The current design already work with shields and there are extra IOs if someone needs more.