Making Gadgeteer and NETMF truly affordable

I dunno, I agree, and I’m not even in LTU. When I can go to eBay and have an ENC28J60 module shipped for $5, vs paying $19.95 plus $5.91 shipping (that’s USPS to Utah, for an out-the-door cost of almost $26), that’s a problem for me.

Maybe I am just too poor to have electronics as a hobby?

As another example, GHI’s bluetooth module is $44.95. One can go to eBay and purchase the same HC-05 module used for under $6 shipped. All GHI did was slap one of these, a couple resistors, a couple LEDs, and a socket on a <$1 board (that’s my cost, from Seeed/OSHPark/whatever) and sell it for almost $45.

GHI didn’t even originally provide a driver, so one can’t argue that the value-added services made it worth the cost.

Exactly, [em]anyone who knows[/em]. But expanding is not about those who know. It’s about those, who do [em]not [/em]know. And for those, who do not know, price is one of the key factors.

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Are they? I think Premium offers and commercial clients are their horse, not hobbyists.


Maybe, we don’t really know, I don’t think. Certainly they’d get out of the Gadgeteer game, as I doubt they’re doing very large commercial deals on Gadgeteer modules.

Maybe I’m wrong, though.

the actual BT module looks like a HC-05 but I can tell you, is NOT. Different command set.

Different enough to justify the price? Maybe it’s an HC-06? You do know that there are various HC-05 firmwares that have different command sets?

I know, mine it too heavy :dance:

I don’t think it is important for us to know the details about GHI revenue streams. What is important, is that we support their Gadgeteer product line, if we want their continued support.

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I do know there are different firmwares, yes. It may be a HC-06, that is closer to the firmware, but there’s also a chance it is not. One thing that is never clear in situations like this is whether the HC-05 market is actually paying the proper IP licensing or if they are “grey”; but irrespective, if you or anyone wanted to go out and make money on a BT module, with a HC-05 firmware, you could. I’ve not looked but I expect that there’s a 1001 Arduino versions, no reason why someone couldn’t develop a driver and price it appropriately, and still make money and sell at less than the price of the GHI module. Does HC-05 offer everything, certainly not, but if you “can do with it” then good luck I say.

Does the GHI module offer anything that HC-05 doesn’t offer? Remember, the driver (originally, at least) was community-provided, so GHI added no value, except to give it a Gadgeteer socket…

Regardless, I don’t want this to devolve into a debate over individual modules, I am merely attempting to give examples relevant to the original topic.

What are you talking about? I was referring to square kilometerage.

I had thought about this same problem as well. Here are my suggestions to GHI

  1. The modules cost to much OUTside of the us esp in Europe where Arduino is from.

Solution - GHI it’s time to become a multinational. Setup a small manufacturing shop somewhere in Europe and start selling the main boards and modules with parts derived from with the EU. The STM32F chips are from over there anyways.

  1. GHI = Mercedes. The components are good quality, well tested and durable. My Fez Domino from 2 years ago still works.

Solution - GHI it’s time to create your competitors. Find a way to make them cheaper especially if it means sacrificing quality. Then take that product, start a company and sell em on ebay, amazon, the corner store etc. Us perfectionists won’t like that but hey it’s an empire you’re trying to build here.

  1. C# and Visual Studio aren’t well adopted, even though the tooling is free as AIR.

Solution - (hehe) Since it supports C# and VB.NET, make the .netmf support Managed C++ and JavaScript!. Here is my story on this one: The universities locally teach their students Java and have been doing so for a number of years. So when they come to the interview and you ask the candidate “So have you had any experience with C#”, they try and sell you on the merits of Java and the Eclipse IDE! When I once had a talk with a guy in a formal setting, regarding writing some code for a project. When I said that “We’re developing this with C#, in Visual Studio”, he became apprehensive; and started selling me on the merits of Java and the Eclipse IDE. The first thing they always mention is “Open Source”, then “It runs on Linux!”. So if you tell them: Hey, you can “program” this uC with javascript using the Eclipse IDE on your Mac; all of a sudden they will pay attention.

From a techincal standpoint there is no reason why Gadgeteer can’t be developed on the Eclipse IDE. If GHI was to break away and start supporting Eclipse, C++ and JavaScript, you’ll win more hearts and minds and you’re piss off Microsoft.

So to ensure that people still want to use Visual Studio and C# to write their programs, just make sure that the C++ and JavaScript programs run 1/2 as fast as “native” C#.

  1. Arduino has a lot of ground with cool applications. NETMF has few (if any).

Solution: Build a Drone something, that uses the power of the NETMF devices that Arduino cannot do, even if you have to to it in RLP. One such idea is a Game Controller for Android, IOS and Phone8 devices (you’ll have to beg Microsoft to release the USB protocol spec for Phone7 & 8 btw). The concept is this: Take a phone device, and model a cradle for it. The cradle will have a connection to the NETMF device via usb (or something else). The cradle will have 2 things: A battery to charge the device, and game controller like buttons. The concept is to use the phone’s processor and screen along side the hardware controller buttons to play games that require fast user input that Serious gamers are accustomed to. You’ll effectively create a competitor to the PSP and DSLite, that costs ALOT less. Use 3D printing to prototype the cradle.

Or this advice could be worthless in which case ignore.

@ godefroi - Gadgeteer is an open source. Anyone can make it and offer it, even you. It just happened that nobody else wants to take the risk to offer hardware and provide support. GHI took that risk and offers it at the price levels that makes sense for them.

If there is another provider that will have it cheaper people will be buying it from them.


I’m not the OP, I’m just providing examples.

@ Mr. John Smith - That’s all tongue-in-cheek, right?

@ godefroi, I’m being dead serious.

I’m not deaf. I’ve been complaining about cost for years. I live in the U.S. and I agree 100% with Simon’s shipping suggestions.

In fact, I would take it a step further and say outsource the shipping to Amazon. I buy more things through than any other retailer simply because of the fair (not cheapest) product prices and the free Prime shipping. Many times I’ve gone to GHI’s site needing just a couple things and then when I get to the checkout and see that shipping is going to cost 50% or 100% of my total order then I cancel the order and either build my own or wait a few months until I have a larger order. On the other hand, I’m almost 100% China subsidizes their shipping. There’s just no way you can ship a $0.99 eBay item to the U.S. for free and make money…

One thing you didn’t mention in your calculations is that on top of the mainboard cost you still have to add on a power module for an additional 50% - 100+% the cost of a Cerberus. I love the flexibility but I think there needs to be more options.

So, my suggestion is that GHI (or someone else) provide a value line of mainboards that are made as absolutely cheap as possible but are “good enough” for hobby applications. Tonight I’m sitting here playing with an Adafruit Tinker arduino board. It’s $7.95 and has enough power to do the two small projects I’m working on right now. Neither of these projects really lend themselves well to modules due to space requirements. However, if I could use a NETMF micro for about the same price I gladly would choose it over the Arduino.

No one’s a bigger NETMF/Gadgeteer fanboy than me. I want to see it succeed and I’ve spent countless hours presenting, preparing presentations, writing, producing videos, begging MAKE to carry Gadgeteer products, etc… At some point you look around and realize that despite all this the other players are just becoming more popular while NETMF just sits still. When do you give up and just go with the masses?

I thought the IoT would be huge by now and that with the power that NETMF & GHI boards offer that we’d be leading the charge. However, for some reason we still can’t add WiFi to a project at a reasonable price. Here’s where I’ll add my one module complaint… The CC3000 chip felt like a huge game changer. At less than $12 per chip, this product has the possibility of changing the world. Heck, by now GHI should have these on every mainboard. However, we still don’t have a working module and when we do its currently listed as being $39! Yea, that’s a lot cheaper than the current WiFi options but its outrageous for what is basically a breakout board for a $12 part that a community member is developing the driver for. Maybe GHI is secretly developing their own software or maybe they’re paying him and that’s where the huge price hike comes from. I don’t know. Regardless, GHI should be handing these modules out at just above cost just for the value of the projects that would come from it. Besides, once the driver is developed its 100% likely that someone will offer the same module for half the GHI price. The other board I’m playing with is my Spark Core. $39 (Kickstarter) Arduino with CC3000 on-board. Very slick…

I’m going to go play BF4 now…

@ ianlee74, I believe in never giving up.