Questions about the FEZ Spider / Raptor

Hello community members,

I currently own a Arduino but being a C# learner, the GHI board seems very interesting!

I do have a few questions regarding those 2 boards (Spider and Raptor)

  • The main difference between the 2 are processors speeds, one have more PWM, the other a bit less, and a few difference like that. Being an hobbyist, is there a any groundbreaking feature on the Raptor vs the Spider (or the other way around) ?

  • I was looking at the Netduino as well, but I found out that it does not support SSL. Since I want to use Azure in my project, I do believe this is a must. Does both board (Spider and Raptor) support SSL?

  • What the support for Azure looks like so far? I believe this is done by the community? Any plan for Microsoft to provide NetMF support for Azure?

  • Also, those 2 boards uses the Gadgeteer system, which seems to be real nice. Since I already have some electronics components like sensor (TMP36), a bunch of LED, buttons and so on. Is it possible to use the Pin of a Gadgeteer port as a "stand alone pin? If I look at the pictures, I think each port is 10 pins. Could I easily use jumper wire and use a breadboard for Input / Output / vcc / gnd ? Like a Arduino in fact.

Thank you so your help, appreciated.

Welcome Elezium ! You’ll find that everyone here will be quite helpful, and personally I’m glad to see someone coming from the Arduino world.

Let me try to answer a few of your questions

The Raptor uses a more modern module than the Spider. My personal preference would be to get a Raptor - it has more sockets and is newer. I don’t expect GHI will be deprecating the EMX module any time soon (it’s been around for years and I would bet has been sold to commercial entities a LOT) but I would guess the chances of deprecating the G400 is less.

Yes, both have sufficient memory to support SSL.

Not the right place to ask - that would be on the netmf project on Codeplex (so someone from the netmf team can respond). I doubt the framework itself will get Azure support built into it.

YES ! Grab yourself some G-PLUGs or breakout modules and then you can go from 0.1" header to anything you like. One big consideration is that these devices are all 3v3 input/output levels, so that may pose some challenge for your usual Arduino devices, as the default is 5v - more something to be aware of than a major concern, most external devices are 3v3 signalling anyway and are 5v input tolerant and therefore happen to work OK.


I’m not so sure about that as Azure is the money shot for Microsoft so I fully expect that .NetMF will get some Azure support in some form (note I’m just a Gadgeteer Junkie and don’t work for Microsoft). Thus far there are a number of folks who have written nice libraries to help you use .NetMF and Gadgeteer with Azure, for example:

my CodeShare demo where I use @ ppatierno libraries which made using Azure really simple

As for mainboards, the Raptor is killer and pretty much lets your device imagination run wild with its power and number of sockets.


Another major difference, in my opinion, is Ethernet support.

The Spider uses Ethernet support built into the CPU chip, while the Raptor uses the ENC28 module which uses a SPI interface.

I have never compared the speed of both types of interface, so I don’t see how the SPI interface could be faster than the builtin support.

[quote=“Duke Nukem”]

I’m not so sure about that as Azure is the money shot for Microsoft so I fully expect that .NetMF will get some Azure support in some form (note I’m just a Gadgeteer Junkie and don’t work for Microsoft). [/quote]
So for the record I DO work for Microsoft, but have no link to the netmf team or any knowledge of their plans other than what we all see here (in fact, GHI probably have better ties to the team than I will ever have)

My supposition was based on the fact that adding specific Azure code into the core framework would do a few things that I think are potentially against some of the tenets I see as important, but they may not actually be the tenets the team have worked with in the past, and may not think about in the future… Here’s my thinking.

  • Adding Azure directly in the framework adds to the weight of the core, even if vendors can optionally compile it in.

  • Azure is not the only option in this area, so what other options do you need to build into the core for “parity”?

  • Things that get added to the core are things that are timing sensitive and need to be handled in a speedy manner. Where does the current software layer not perform ?

  • Are there Azure primitives in the full .Net framework? Would netmf really get something just for it ?

So while there may be areas that get added to the core (as a random example, serialisation) that have benefit to Azure scenarios, I can’t see any specific gaps that require the framework to deal with them. Sure, there’s always grounds for a fully supported “Azure driver pack” to help develop robust implementations of apps using Azure an to improve any areas the community features are not as complete (if any), but I just don’t necessarily see those ending up in the core framework. That’s my thinking.

Wow… Amazingly fast!!!

Thanks Brett, Duke Nukem (souvenir…) and Mike.

Regarding Azure: Thanks Brett for the video and different links. I’ll take a look for sure. But just out of curiosity (and note that I know next to nothing regarding the NetMF framework), I do understand Brett concerns of Azure being part of the framework itself for various reasons. But would it be possible( technically speaking, not if MS will do it/ can do it) to have the Azure “client” for various services they offer in the applications itself, and not in the core? Just like today with the “classic” .NET Framework? I really believe that cloud support (be it Azure or AWS, or BlueMix or …) is a must, hopefully we’ll know sooner than later.

Regarding Mike comments on Ethernet: Since it’s a hobby for me, and a learning platform, performances does not really matters, as long as I can get to the internet with it (IoT).

Brett: Thanks for the precious information. Nice catch about that 3.3v / 5v thing. Regarding the G-Plug / Breakout modules, that would work for I2C as well? I could take a Gadgeeter port, install a G-Plug and get the classic “I2C” (SDA/SCL) plins to connect my already own I2C components (same for SPI I guess)

I come up with a few more questions:

  • The Touchscreens T35/T43 are very interesting, since GHI offers full support for it. I was wondering if the display would be faster with the Raptor vs Spider? Is the display control by the mainboard itself? Anyone have example of what can be done with MicroWPF. I’ve only found a few example witch were basically: “Hello World” :stuck_out_tongue:

  • Some people on the Netduino forum says there is some long on-going issues with the Network stack. I have no details what the issues are. Does NetDuino and GHI use the same network stack?

  • Before shelling out a 200$, one of my project would be build a rover, or a robot of some kind. I don’t have the knowledge for it yet, but I just want to be sure that either the Raptor or Spider can do this job just fine? No known limitations?

  • And finally, any one have experience in buying from GHI in Canada? Any surprises with UPS (COD!!!) or FedEx? Better to use USPS, but be a little more patient? Any horror story? :wink:

I really appreciated all your input, I know I might ask some questions that seems obvious, but being new in all that area, it’s a bit of a learning curve… Even thought I work in IT (System Administrator, far from electronics and robotics… well… except the tapes backup robots!) :wink:

Best Regards.

I would agree that but I’d suspect that Microsoft will have a pretty slick Azure SDK add on for .NetMF with all sorts of goodies to ensure Azure is the best choice for .NetMF and devices in general.

Oh piss on “parity” and I think the recent non competition court case rulings with Apple will change the game completely as apparently its OK to be an evil competition crushing company that punts other competitors off their platform. If anyone every thought Microsoft was evil, they need to check out the new definition of evil fruit. Do you think the Rasberry Pie or Arduino dudes are going to feature Azure, even with Azure being the clear front runner? This is one of the reasons why I think that Gadgeteer is so important to Microsoft as it helps build a complete ecosystem on their stack from the bottom up. There is a good reason why Google has been so generous with donating Raspberry Pies to kids everywhere as the game has always been about the hearts and minds of developers and that said Gadgeteer is the bridge that bring developers into the land of IoT, the next big thing.

Yes we have had some issues with the network stack, but we are a pretty ruthless community with some pretty freaking heavy weight techie dudes and those network problems were thrashed into a pulp, they are no longer an issue.

The last post in that thread @ Sprigo network test had gone over 250,000 iterations and was still going, combined with my own testing, networking is looking pretty good right now.

I used a Raptor to build my Rover that uploads its data to Azure and I went a little nuts adding stuff on, but I’m just nuts anyways. I used a Rover 5 Chassis which was nice. There is a motor controller I’m wanting to use as it reports motor current usage and such so I my Rover can be just like the ones at NASA and report back failing drive components. Once I’m finished I’ll post it in CodeShare (after I get my other 27 project and videos are finished ::slight_smile: )

I’m a fellow crazy canuck located in Calgary Alberta and I haven’t had any problems getting stuff, of course being in the Great White North delivery times are dependent on snow conditions for the dog sled delivery teams. Mind you tonight we have -26C with a windchill of -35C with snow falling and once the snow stops they are calling for -40C windchills so snow conditions should be pretty fast.

Gadgeteer Rocks!!! I’m just a software dude who has finally found an easy way to get into building devices. You don’t need to know anything about bread boarding or soldering or pins, drivers, etc to start building cool devices. if you want to learn how to do that stuff, certainly Gadgeteer will let you play at any level you want whenever you want.

The attached images are from my Rover and Rover Controller as I wanted an all Gadgeteer solution.

Thanks! I’ll take a look at that thread.

Good. Thanks for the picture, it’s pretty clear which components you have used and it gives me a clear idea of what is needed!

I’m located in Montreal (Quebec) so it’s getting a bit cold but probably not as much as you! Which shipment method did you pick? I’m so afraid of dealing with brokerage fees. That being said, I found that RobotShop have a warehouse in Canada (Mirabel, about 30 mins from Montreal, in fact, it’s their head offices) and do they carry some GHI parts… and a bunch of robots components as well! :wall:

I’m mostly a software guy myself, but I want to learn more about electronics. Of course the Gadgeteer can bring ease of use, but first I would prefer to understand how it works. Since this board let me use the “pin by pin”, I can learn electronics while using C#. In the future, I could replace some electronics with Gadgeteer module if needed, that’s a plus!

Edit: One other question, does the Glide GUI works on both, the Raptor and Spider?

Thanks again for taking the time, really appreciated.

Best regards.

Another difference:

There’s an O (analog output) on the Spider. This doesn’t exists on the Raptor as it’s not supported by the chip.

There are better modules for doing this anyway.

Thanks for adding this details.

And good thing (for my wallet), the WiFi adapter is out of stock. And on the Canadian Distributor (RobotShop), the DP USB Module is out of stock…

So If (very tempting… honestly…) I go ahead and order, I’ll wait for those components to be in stock.


Interesting I’ve order other parts from RobotShop but never Gadgeteer stuff, I’ll have to give them a try in the future as I have been impressed with their service so far.

They don’t have everything is stock, but I sent them a request regarding the DP USB Module and the Raptor… They have the Spider in stock, but without the DP USB Module, it’s useless ;(

And like I said, I’ve read so many horror stories with orders from the US, especially with UPS and FedEX … where the brokerage fees are sometime half your total invoice (go figure).

Btw, nice video on Azure / Mobile services, well done!


@ Elezium - I’ve never had a problem getting in stuff from GHI and trust me I’ve ordered LOTS of stuff from them.

Which courier do you use? FedEx, UPS, USPS (and then Post Canada I guess…)

Thanks Duke!

I just ordered some stuff from robotshop myself (including a spare ghi motor controller)… only 9.50$ usd or so for shipping to New Zealand via Canada post small air packet. :slight_smile:

BTW I have a raptor and a spider. The raptor is much much larger.

@ mtylerjr - appx. 6,8412698412698412698412698412698 times

Which ever one GHI ships it with as I don’t have a particular courier that I use for stuff like this.

Gotcha… Anyways… Too late… I couldn’t resists… I just place my Order!

I went with the Spider Starter Kit and added some breakout modules, g-plug and a X1 board. That should cover my need for using my already have electronics components!

Thanks so much for all your input!

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Ho well…

Exactly what I was afraid of… Got a call from FedEx and had to pay some Canadians taxes on top of it… (around 50$)

GHI did ship very promptly, thanks to you guys. But ordering from the US costs a bit more…

EDIT: Actually, there is no taxes on the GHI invoice, so I guess it is OK to pay Canadian Taxes… My bad.

Later people.