Things have moved on big time in the .Net Micro Framework world since I started this blog, significantly most recently with the introduction of the Netduino and the announcement last weekend from the Microsoft MSR team here in Cambridge (UK) of the Gadgeteer.
Development boards have been available for a long time for the Micro Framework but they have been in the £300 range, this was more than I was willing to spend hence the purchase of the Meridian/P and the Ethernet module, which still came to around £100, a fairly high level to pay to tinker.
Meridian/P with Ethernet module attached:
Sadly I found that I wasn't using the Meridian/P as I would have liked to as it wasn't really easy to hook up to (not difficult, but not easy like the Arduino) and so instead I tinkered with the Arduino, and kept wondering about one of the proper dev boards.
That's changed recently, in the post about a month ago I received two Netduino boards (after handing over $70 + postage to MakerShed!), the cool thing is that they are the same form factor as the Arduino so my prototyping shields fit, but now I get to code in C# using Visual Studio 2010 and Resharper and take advantage of the cool stuff already written in the Micro Framework.
Netdunio board with a Prototype shield mounted:
If like me you want to develop some internet connected devices using the Netduino then hold on, the Netduino Plus is in beta, it features an on-board network adaptor, (I'm sure their will be some network shields that work with the Micro Framework for the standard Netduino kicking around soon). I'm still hoping to see some Power Over Ethernet (POE/802.3af PD) powered devices so I can connect up one cable to a remote sensor system and have power and networking delivered remotely.
On top of all this Microsoft have also released the Gadgeteer, theirs a few interesting blog posts about it and I managed to get my hands of the bits the other night when attending a NxtGenUG meeting in Cambridge, although that's as far as I got as they were only out for display and not functional.
So, if you like developing in C#, you want to tinker around with hardware, go checkout the Gadgeteer and the Netduino.
Also check out the Arduino, it's not C# or .Net based but it's still an awesome platform to hack hardware on.
The Arduino and an Ethernet Shield:
Arduino next to a Netduino, what a lovely couple they make!
You can see from the photo above how well matched the boards are for form factor and connectivity, the Arduino already has a massive community involvement behind it with many shields and projects, lets hope the Netduino follows as it should be able to make use of a lot of the shields already developed.