Sunday, June 19, 2011

Netduino & Friends

Happy Fathers Day!

I've been looking into alternative methods to my setup. One of the boards I've looked at is the Netduino or the Netduino Plus. The benefit of the Netduino, is that I have the microcontroller and the network controller on the same board, and I dont need a separate shield for the Arduino to get things done. It depends on your system requirements what you need, but I consider it a downside having to use .NET to program this board. I'd prefer if the developer had kept with the universal C code that is used on the Arduino as well as a multitude of other microcontrollers. But if you're interested in learned the .NET Micro Framework, then this is the product for you (though I am still openly considering this).

Tutorials for this can be found all over the place, but I've found that Channel 9 has a good tutorial for .NET programming.

Another one of these boards I considered is the BlackWidow WiFi Arduino Clone. Sadly, the maker of those boards, Async-Labs, has gone out of business. So if I decide on using these boards, I would have to manufacture them myself for use in my system. WiFi is a greatly advantageous system over Ethernet, but expensive. Maybe once I'm comfortable with all of my current hardware setup, I'll investigate this possibility.

I've also been researching to use the ATTINY series in my boards, rather than the larger ATMEGA series. Of course it depends on my memory requirements, my code size, etc, but I believe certain boards of my system can use them very nicely, thereby shrinking the size of the boards. If you're looking how to program the ATTINY chip, I found a great application at Adafruit, where Lady Ada has used an ATTINY4 in her i-Cufflinks. You'd need the ATMEGA32U4 breakout board to program it, as well as the JTAG cable, and depending on your needs, Pogo-pins (or this link).

I'm left doing some research in these few weeks, and developing some ideas for future boards, while I await my 3 boards I ordered last week. I've managed to buy the majority of the parts I need to make those boards, but all the rest are to be ordered through Mouser, so I'm compiling my order to be sent out next week.

Until next week, Stay Safe and Live Green.


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