So many options, which platform to settle on?

Hi all,

I am new to netmf and GHI products in general. I was very excited to see the FEZ Panda and netmf 4.2 support of VB! I have done some work in the past with Basic Stamps and PICAXE platforms until last week when I stumbled upon the GHI website.

I have already ordered the FEZ ultimate kit to get started but now am wondering if this was the wrong approach. Seems like there aren’t many VB examples on the web and so far I have not been able to get even a simple Led flash project working on the emulator in VB 2010 full version.

I don’t really want to invest the time in learning assembly, C# would be OK I guess.

Is there a better platform to get started with otherthanthe Panda II?
Thanks,
Don

VB support is brand new, so sample apps are few and far between. Most embedded developers come from a C (and derivatives) background, so C# is their NETMF language of choice.

The Panda II is a great starter board, particularly if you are used to the Arduino header arrangement. Many Arduino shields have been ported to NETMF. Unfortunately, it is at end of life, and while it will be supported for a long time to come, you won’t see a Panda III. The Cerbuino Bee is another similar form factor. It takes a bit to get used to the Gadgeteer way of doing things, but is great, particularly if you like “plug and play” kind of tinkering. Once you’ve transitioned to Gadgeteer, all whole bunch of possibilities open up with GHI products. The high end of the “hobby” line is the upcoming G120 (some may say it is targeted more towards the commercial market). It is a “straight up NETMF” board, meaning not Gadgeteer. This thing packs some serious performance in a tiny package, and is an extremely good price for the feature set.

@ ransomhall - All said and explained very well, thanks :slight_smile: But I have a clarification please.

I wouldn’t make that assumption yet. GHI is experimenting with many option and have many prototypes on hand. While we love the idea of going >100Mhz for everything, Panda is still the most popular board in the “education and hobby” area. We (and distributors) can’t keep them in stock :slight_smile:

As for current official public status, Panda/usbizi does not support 4.2 (which is in beta today) but it is fully supported in 4.1 and it is the most stable (a customer said bug free!) and feature-complete low-end NETMF offer on the market. GHI has not discontinued Panda and haven’t decided on what the plans are but 4.1 is still completely supported for panda and the many commercial usbizi customers.

@ dchapma1 - The biggest thing you will lose is not having 4.2 is VB support (if you need it), see this http://wiki.tinyclr.com/index.php?title=NETMF_4.1_to_4.2

So from what I am reading I am more confused.
Panda IIi is end of life and no Panda III coming? So I just invested in an end of life platform?

or

netmf 4.2 firmware is in beta for Panda so I just have to wait a little for support?

or

I should just dump the Panda and go in a different direction, Gadgeteer bit the bullet and move from VB to C#? I find the c# syntax very ugly and not easy to follow given all the useless semi colons and curly braces. It is not a clean elegant language in my opinion. I write Windows Apps and Compact Framework apps in VB 2010 so that is where my experience lies.

or

Just forget the whole thing and stay with PICAXE for tinkering.

Thas for letting me vent a little. I really want to make this whole netmf thing a new hobby for me.

I suggest you take a second look at my answer and take a look at the wiki. The page was just updated with current 4.2 status section.

To answer a simple question you may have: “can I use VB with panda?”. The answer is no. Please take second look at the wiki page.

The ultimate kit, with its sensors and the internet of things ebook, is still the most value you could have for the price you paid but it will not run VB…that is unless GHI decided to port 4.2 to panda/usbizi…which is undecided as the wiki says.

Just read the Wiki and I think I have a better understanding. Thanks!

I guess I am going to make the jump to C#. Maybe it’s about time I did thatanyway. :slight_smile: Ultimate kit should arrive today and I still think this is all cool stuff. I got it for a good price so it is a good value.

Typically, embedded programmers strictly use C so C# is an automatic switch to them over VB. I know seeing semicolons and curly brackets everywhere can be annoying if you are not used to them but you will quickly start seeing the value of having them.

And once you are ready to write your first RLP drivers, you will be glad you know C (if you know C# then you know C) :slight_smile:

@ dchapma1 - I can understand the concern moving from VB.NET to C#. But as someone who does this everyday, where all our company code is in VB.NET and everything I do for prototyping and personal development is done with C# I can tell you that you have very little to fear.

I am sure you are well aware that this is not the difference between VB and C/C++, yes there are certain capabilities that one language has that the other does not (that cuts both ways) and that gap is narrowing rapidly with each new release of the languages as well*. For the most part it is purely syntax differences. And having got to know this community over the last few months, I am sure that if you find syntax issue that you cannot address in C# they will be more than willing to provide assistance, I know I will.

I am not trying to convince you to move to C#, I just hope to make you feel less concerned and know that all is not lost if you do find that you have to use C#.

*Microsoft now has a policy to keep C# and VB.NET in sync. Reference: http://www.microsoftpdc.com/2009/FT11

@ Gus - thanks for the clarification. I guess I made a large assumption based on the recent sale of ultimate kits. My most humble apology…

BTW - we have some very happy new ultimate kit owners locally. I spent last night unboxing/explaining the kit with a couple of them. Much fun was had sharing FEZ enthusiasm.

Not sure I agree on that one, Gus.

Transitioning from one C-like language to another is absolutely going to be easier than transitioning from Visual Basic to a C-like language, but there are some pretty substantial differences between C and C# to say that if you know one, you know the other. :slight_smile:

Well Ultimate Kit arrived in the mail today all in a nice little box! Cool.

As for C# - I can read and understand all of it - it’s just that the syntax doesn’t come off the top of my head like it does in VB.Net but I’ll make do. I’ll be going through the Getting Started exercises over the next week or so - and I’m not afraid to ask questions.

Thanks for all the feedback!

@ dchapma1 - I used vb a lot in the dark ages and resisted c# for quite awhile as I didn’t like squiggly braces and semi colons…after being forced to change to c# for a project about 8 years ago I haven’t touched vb since and would never go back :slight_smile:

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Is there a platform other then Gadgeteer, but then again I’m highly biased as I think Gadgeteer is simply brilliant and the perfect balance between hardware and software.

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