Yet another excellent Gadgeteer Course in the books

We were a little short on numbers tonight due to me being a tad to busy to get the word out about this month’s classes (posted them Sunday, oops my bad), but we had three people join in who were just in the store. One fellow was looking at my various demo projects that I had sat out and so I asked him if he would be interested in joining us so he did and he was very happy that he did when I asked him afterwards. Now the other two who joined us were courtesy of Sabrina Forde who is the Community Development & Events Specialist at the Microsoft Store and my contact (and a huge huge help) who met a couple of High School students earlier in the day in the store and when she found out they were part of their school’s robotics team invited them to our Gadgeteer class and so they joined us tonight. They have never used Visual Studio/C#/Gadgeteer but each managed to get the project working, so good on them, bright kids with a future no doubt. Heck they even personalized the project etc which was even cooler and a testimony that Gadgeteer is so easy to use that they could go from zero to doing their own experimenting within an hour sort of thing. Given how happy their were I expect to see their classmates signing up for a class soon. I also got an invite to the FIRST Robotics Competition for the Western Canada Regional Competition this weekend so I hope to talk to more educators about Gadgeteer and what it can do for them.

Its always fun to hear people as they work with Gadgeteer for the first time as one fellow tonight who was a Netduino user (and an Electrical Engineer) kept muttering ‘this is Freakin’ Easy’ which made me laugh as that is where the ‘FEZ’ from the naming like FEZ Spider came from, so he has seen the Gadgeteer light and is now converted. Gadgeteer constantly blows people away when they get a chance to try it, so I really enjoy doing these classes.

We had a number of folks who were in the store who dropped by to look over my demo projects while the course was ongoing so I suspect some of them will be attending future classes. If I have to schedule more classes I’ll try to promote them a little sooner then a couple of days before they start.

Something that was repeated to me tonight by a couple of attendees and that I heard often from other attendees is why doesn’t Microsoft sell Gadgeteer in the store? Maybe someday they will as Gadgeteer really is killer cool.

Thanks @ stuart_payne for mentioning this class to Rich, I think he really enjoyed it.


Yeah, why can’t one buy Gadgeteer in a store?

BTW - SparkFun is opening a retail store later this Spring.

Cool, I already see what I could improve in my courses.

If only Gadgeteer was a cheaper :frowning:

Congrats !

Nice to see the girls in the audience. I am working with my 8 eight year old to get her to do more with hacking/making and trying to make her understand that this is not a “boys only” domain :slight_smile:

@ Simon from Vilnius - Price is always a concern so in my class I always cover the bill of materials and the cost of each module. Typically I get two responses depending on if the person commenting has built devices before or not. The folks that are new to device building think the prices are good, the folks that have built devices before think the prices are great. Now remember I live in Calgary and so if you drive say a BMW in this city, people will stop and give you their spare change as they figure you must be down on your luck or something. One guy last night was like ‘here take my money I want this now and asking the store staff why they weren’t selling Gadgeteer there’ so I suspect he will be placing an order this morning as he was just blown away with how easy Gadgeteer was to use (he couldn’t believe Gadgeteer was so cheap for something so easy to use).

What projects do you use in your courses?

The other thing I think I need to do is breadboard up a sample project with Gadgeteer so folks can see that you can get down and dirty with components with Gadgeteer. Maybe that lighting detector would be a good one to do with that.

Can you explain? :slight_smile: What’s wrong with driving a BMW?

@ iamin - In Calgary a BMW is a poor man’s car (unless your a Scottish bastard like me).

@ Duke Nukem - I am sorry for off-topic, but curiosity got me. I have just checked how much 7 series BMW costs in Canada - it starts from $100k. And with some extras it adds up to $120+. If that is poor’s man car, then what do people drive in Calgary?

Other BMW series:
M6 series Gran Coupe - starts from $128k
6 series - starts from $90k
5 series Gran Turismo - starts from $72k
4 series - starts from $45

@ Duke Nukem - I’m not sure that I want to know how I’d be looked upon in Calgary, given that both my cars are more than 10 years old and > 100,000 miles. And yes, I’m part Scottish, too, which might account for part of that. :slight_smile:

To bring it back to the topic at hand, I figure every dollar I don’t spend on a new car in a given year is another dollar that’s available for feeding my Gadgeteer habit. :smiley:


@ iamin - :whistle:


7 series are winter cars or for old men (I hope my friend Jim doesn’t read this but he is older than me). Calgarians like X’s, M’s and Z’s, things like AMG, Audi R8, Lambos, prancing ponies, tons of Porsches (it seems like all the soccer moms drive Range Rovers or Cayenne Turbo S’s, I’ve personally never understood the Panamera but apparently some people do) are every day cars here once the ice melts (apparently you can’t get blizzaks for a Ferrari, but I’m sure my neighbor has tried). In short its a wealthy city as its the oil capital of Canada, but we’ll see if $40 a barrel oil thins out the exotic sport cars this year. Given the number of corporate headquarters there are in Calgary and the nature of the business (lots of engineering and sciences), Calgary is one of the largest IT markets in North America so its a pretty good town to be an IT guy in, if you don’t mind working for larger corporations.

As to how you would fit in @ devhammer, just fine as all us Scottish bastards just don’t care, its a car, I use it to get from point A to B and unless I can safely do so at 200 mph, I don’t need a super car. That said there is a freeway here called Deerfoot Trail and its sort of an unofficial version of the German Autobahn, where driving the posted speed limit is going to get you rammed off into the ditch by some guy or woman driving a jacked up 350 4x4 with dualies who thinks its a Ferrari.

Since I’ve got an official course at the university, I always work with the same students, so we incrementially build one project. Last year it was a weather station. First week — blinking the LEDs, second week — reading a sensor and so on, with the final task of sending data to ThingSpeak. Next semester it may be something else.

I liked your idea of showing a couple demo projects, I think I will definitely copy that next fall :slight_smile:

But the prices… Last year, during the final exam, I had a few conversation with my students of what they now think about NETMF and Gadgeteer. They all went like:

Me: "So, did you like Gadgeteer?"
Student: "Oh yes, absolutely!"
Me: "Do you think it’s better than Arduino?"
Student: "It’s not just better, it’s totally in a different league."
Me: "So, will you buy it and create something?"
Student: "No"
Me: "Why not?"
Student: “It’s too expensive. It was fun, but I’ll stay with Arduino.”

@ Simon from Vilnius - So they do recognize the superiority of Gadgeteer over Arduino, but choose to go with Arduino. No big deal then - everybody has a right to choose inferior goods.

It is a huge deal in a sense that we were seriously discussing whether NETMF was dead or not just a few months ago. It seems there are no such discussions on the Arduino side, not even a smell of it…

@ Simon from Vilnius - Yes, we had, but things are changing now. I am sure you have read all the recent NETMF and Gadgeteer related announcements.

My point is that we should not consider price as the most important factor for Gadgeteer. If someone wants to get the cheapest solution they should look elsewhere. Gadgeteer mainboards won’t be able to compete with $4.4 ( ) or $2.3 ( ) Arduino mainboards in terms of price.

I think it is very unfair to compare gadgeteer with arduino. Arduino is one board with headers. Maybe compare with cerb40? Or cerbuino?

Arduino website used to sell kits that cost a lot more than gadgeteer and were terrible in features! Not sure if they still sell then today.

Either way, we have something in the oven for you guys. Something more arduino, not gadgeteer.


Yeah price was a big factor for me because a breadboard and stuff and an Arduino can be much cheaper than the Gadgeteer. Buttons go for cents but the Gadgeteer module is ~$3. I still chose the Gadgeteer though because they had the Cerbuino bee and it wasn’t that much more expensive than the arduino

@ MRTFEREN - Everything has its price, if you cannot afford it, it does not mean it must cost cheaper. Isn’t that obvious?

This type of discussion IMO is like saying that the Bugatti Veyron should be a lot cheaper because I can buy a Fiat Punto for peanuts! If you want cheap - buy the Punto.


@ Simon from Vilnius - Interesting and ultimately people make choices for all sorts of perceived reasons, and of course perceptions may or may not be correct, but really that just doesn’t matter, choices are made.

When people toss out there they can get a board for a couple of bucks, I always look at that as so what can you do with it? In and of itself its a dam poor paperweight, because by itself its useless, you need a power supply, bread board, components, (those little prototyping wires must be made out of freaking gold or something as they are pricey little bastards) and given the death of the local electronic shops, shipping always comes into play, so I’m always suspicious of the cheaper claim.

Now I’ve come into this a different way, I’m a software dude so I wanted to get easy to use hardware and so Gadgeteer gave me that, and Gadgeteer has given me a very nice start into building devices etc, but I’ve also wanted to expand out and getting closer to the hardware and have some power supplies, bread boards, prototyping wires, components etc and I’m not really sure about the cheaper part when I add everything up (including a bigger office to store all this stuff), and to use all this stuff, I’m still using Gadgeteer (key point as @ wbsimms has been doing some great breadboard based projects with Gadgeteer that highlights that you only have to breadboard the stuff you are interested in, and the rest is nice reliable and easy to use Gadgeteer).

Now many many years ago I started my first company that sold some oil/gas well test software that I wrote and I had basically one competitor but I use to tell my sales guys if you walk into an office and they are using our competitor’s product its unlikely you are going to get a sale as that customer has already invested a ton of money and effort into the purchase, training and learning how to use that product, so they aren’t likely to switch as they are all in, but if they are someone who is looking for something better, or just looking for a solution, or new, then they are ours as our competitor’s product just couldn’t compete on its own with us. I see something very similar in this market, if guys are Arduino dudes they will be difficult to switch as they are typically all in and have made all the investments etc so unlikely to switch (unless they find a worthy enough reason), but in 5 years the vast majority of the people doing device/IoT work will have been in the game for less then 5 years. So what I’m saying is they are new or software dudes looking for that easy hardware solution and so Gadgeteer is in a perfect spot to hold the course and score the most users over the next couple of years. Is Gadgeteer good enough to persuade a hardcore Arduino dude to jump, maybe not, but for a new device maker Gadgeteer clearly has advantages that can draw new users to it rather then to Arduino and so begins what Bill Gates called the positive upward spiral.

So message to GHI and Microsoft concerning Gadgeteer, hold the course, keep improving the product and growth will be yours for all the right reasons. Arduino dudes will be Arduino dudes and that is fine as the fight for developers isn’t over existing developers, but over new developers, never forget that.