The BrainPad has arrived!

@ everyone, I think the core driver will be a dll, meaning you can use it with C# and VB, or anything supported by NETMF.

So, I guess this driver code won’t be open? If you want to penetrate education, this would be a big plus.

@ ianlee74 - where did I say it is not open? And how would the community contribute off it is not open? In fact, the code is already posted in this thread. :slight_smile:

The kids however may not see the code, depending on their level.

Is this running a scaled down version of NETMF ? I assume that the max. RAM on these chips is 96K ?

If this is so will the chip be offered too ?

I like the education idea and would like my eight year old to try it out, but some reason I feel that there is something that is missing, may be time will prove otherwise.

@ Rajesh - what it’s missing? Maybe we need to explain things better.

I think Gary is organizing a community conference call, you should join us.

Considering someone already ported it to VB, that to me would mean that it’s open :wink:

I am, it’s on my list to work on tomorrow.

I will email you some stuff shortly.

I have a brilliant 9 year old Aspergers/Future Engineer child that would love to play with one of these and give feedback…

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@ Gus - Yes that will help. Looking forward to learn more, summer vacation starts on the 26th and should be the perfect time to start.

@ Gary - Awesome, will wait.

In anticipation of the release of the BrainPad, I’ve prepared extensions to the MIT instructional language “Scratch” for .Net Micro Framework devices. Scratch is a visual programming language for education. The NETMF extensions allow one to create Scratch programs that can run on a .Net Micro Framework device. The Scratch NETMF program should work on most NETMF devices (although is only currently tested on Spider, Cerbuino Net and Molecule.Net) and a special version, pre-configured for the hardwired accessories on the BrainPad, will be released once I have hardware and can complete that work.

I am currently completing testing, fixing some lingering bugs, and doing the write-ups and I will release installation instructions in a day or two.


@ mcalsyn - awesome stuff. How is the deployment working?

The basic architecture of Scratch is geared toward tethered operation. For the Arduino support, they use ‘Firmata’, which is an Arduino program that implements a serial protocol for remoting GPIO and other functions of the Arduino board. This is the same method Microsoft uses for remoting to an Arduino from the Windows 10 demos you may have seen. It basically turns the Arduino into a slave device to your PC.

I have ported a variation of Firmata to NETMF. Using this requires tethered operation just like with Arduino. Now, there are some additional complexities because Arduino makes it easier to reuse the USB port as a runtime serial channel. That can be more challenging on NETMF platforms. I am trying to support a variety of tethering strategies, including USB client, serial dongles, and Ethernet channels.

So, my initial Scratch extension will need to run with the NETMF device tethered, just like Arduino does with Scratch, but I do have another plan in my back pocket, and that is to do a direct translation of Scratch JSON into generated C# code. Such a translation would allow for untethered operation. So, once you build a program you like, you could generate an installable untethered version that would run standalone on your NETMF board. Finishing that work is some weeks away though. First, I need to get finish getting tethered operation working to my satisfaction.


@ mcalsyn - Wow wow wow… this is awesome, cant wait to see it :slight_smile:

@ Gus I think @ mcalsyn has the correct hammer and is hitting the nail right.

[ul]This will allow orient younger audience towards programming
Allows a start using a Visual story board, rather than writing code
Allows the mentor/tutor to start without the hardware
Allows the student to progress to the hardware using custom Scratch blocks[/ul]

Edit: don’t get me wrong, I am hoping that the transition to Visual Studio will be fast, one the student grasps concepts like selection and loops.

@ Rajesh - we are working together on this. If you seen the plan I made, using scratch for elementary school is already in there. He kindly took on the task of porting scratch.

VS comes in the middle school and beyond.


Exactly - I am an enthusiastic supporter of the BrainPad and the goals behind it, so I was happy to sign up for this and GHI have been very supportive collaborators on the coding effort. They have more experience than I do in formal elementary-level classroom settings, which can be challenging IT environments, so their experience there has been invaluable in helping me make sure I create a usable solution.

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@ Gus - super, this is going to be real good.


@ mcalsyn @ Gus - That is great news. The “beta group” of kids I’ve been working with this spring has already been exposed to scratch on the RasPi.

Here is a link to the BrainPad VB Class ported by @ scardinale:

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