I love my Fez Domino. Simpler than an AVR or PIC to use thanks to the .Net Micro Framework instead of C code, and the sample code out there continues to grow and provide a source (no pun intended) of inspiration for my own activities.
From a hardware perspective, I would have liked more IOs, but what is there is fine - and in line with Arduino for compat reasons. Power modes will be good when they arrive too, but otherwise I’m ultra happy. I’m only a hobbyist, so I don’t know stuff more advanced people would - but seems like a very flexible platform, and the open source hardware perspective means anyone can take the reference platform and build their own or integrate USBizi chip into an existing platform should they choose.
From a software perspective, I am also a novice. This is my first foray into .Net Micro, and into C#. That hasn’t been too difficult to pick up, and the tools are pretty easy to get your head around - much easier than my AVR GCC toolchain to set up and manage, thats for sure! Debugging this is awesome, can’t think of a better way to see what’s going on!
VS2010 is obviously new, and Microsoft are the ones that have to resolve the current inability to use .Net Micro with this, since they have to update the framework to operate within that new environment, then the vendors have to release their pieces. This is not uncommon, it’s just a challenge when developers have a toolset they like and want to move to the latest and greatest ASAP - sorry, that’s not always possible.
The support network here is first rate, and the community is growing and learning and sharing more and more - all that is GOOD for the rest of the community, and should help Fez and other .Net Micro platforms.
One thing I would say is that while things are “dynamic”, with firmware updates etc, the structure of documentation leads into some of the challenges I think we’re seeing, like firmware updates being missed. I don’t want to sound too critical here, as it’s not a big deal, but having a streamlined doco set would help - call out the big stuff early, like ONLY download VC# 2008, NEXT do the firmware. There’s currently the beginners guide to .NetMF, and the Fez Tutorial, and there’s a lot of duplicated information between the two. One however talks about checking the firmware version, one does not. The one that does, the Fez Tutorial, only talks about it on page 15, AFTER a package has been deployed to hardware. If you don’t get what you expect by that point, you won’t necessarily see the next bit. I’d have it appear before “the emulator”, so people get into MFDEPLOY and do this check, apply firmware if needed before proceeding to next section.
The GHI folk have obviously committed to making .NetMF work for us all. The great thing is they have a range of products, so if you see this one as being restrictive, you have a “next step” that you can go to, and not have to rewrite your code. I don’t think there’s anything like that in the Arduino platform, and probably only more confusing if you were to talk about porting code between AVR or PIC devices with specific registers/values that change.
Fez is great - the sparkfun forum thoughts make me want to crack on with the Mega design this weekend.
Long Live the Fez !!