Welcome

The Dallas .NET Micro User Group focuses on the .NET Micro Framework (NETMF) from Microsoft. The group meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month at Improving Enterprises and our meetings are free to attend. Please RSVP according to the monthly meeting announcement to assure plenty of food and drinks for everyone.

Newsletter

What is NETMF?

.NET Micro Framework (NETMF) is an open source platform that expands the power and versatility of .NET to the world of small embedded applications. Desktop programmers can harness their existing .NET knowledge base to bring complex embedded concepts to market on time (and under budget).  Embedded Developers can tap into the massive productivity gains that have been seen on the Desktop.

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User Group News

Other News

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 7:06:24 AM
Has "soon" finally arrived? Yes it has and it did on both ends, ours and Microsoft's. First, let us introduce you to NETMF-PPP support. With today's release you will now be able to use the network over PPP (Point to Point Protocol) to establish a connection to a mobile cellular network, right from your NETMF device, and using standard .NET sockets. Besides PPP, the SDK covers some small issues, like supporting virtual machines and improvements on the newly introduced Cerb-family USB Host. This SDK package is also optimized for a better user experience and it is a lot smaller in size! There are new NETMF and Gadgeteer SDK releases to support VS2013, with alpha support for VS2014. Those releases are still in beta so they are not part of our SDK shipping today, just yet.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your patience while we pulled all this together. The changes were major and difficult as explained in previous news posts, http://www.ghielectronics.com/community/forum/topic?id=16274

Other good news is that TinyBooter should be optional from now on, unless there is a major release or an unexpected deep issue that needs to be addressed. We will include a note with the release notes when TinyBooter is needed. What does this mean? No need to run the device in any special mode to update the firmware, just open MFDeploy (or our FEZ Config), select the new firmware and click deploy! No buttons to press and no switches to move! But how is it optional? For example, this SDK includes the same TinyBooter for G120, EMX and Cerb-family as the last release. For G400 and Hydra, there is a small update to support VM (virtual machines). If you are not using a VM, there is no need to update TinyBooter....enjoy!

*edit*
How do I start with PPP to connect my device to a mobile network?
First you need one of our supported devices (G120, EMX, G400) and a PPP modem. We recommend our cellular modem, http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/322 If using a Gadgeteer mainboard, just plug the modem in. If not, wire it using the breakout module. Please also note that currently the Seeed Cellular Radio Module does not support PPP through the Gadgeteer driver, it is only supported through pure NETMF. However, this is something that we will be providing in a future release. Here is a minimal code example showing the connection, easy!

using GHI.Networking;using Microsoft.SPOT;
using Microsoft.SPOT.Net.NetworkInformation;
using System.IO.Ports;
using System.Net;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading;

public class Program
{
public static void Main()
{
NetworkChange.NetworkAvailabilityChanged += NetworkChange_NetworkAvailabilityChanged;
NetworkChange.NetworkAddressChanged += NetworkChange_NetworkAddressChanged;

var port = new SerialPort("COM2", 115200, Parity.None, 8, StopBits.One);
port.Open();

//Your initialization AT commands may differ.
SendAT(port, "AT+CGDCONT=2,\"IP\",\"your APN\"");
SendAT(port, "ATDT*99***2#");

var netif = new PPPSerialModem(port);
netif.Open();
netif.Connect(PPPSerialModem.AuthenticationType.Pap, "", ""); //This differs based on your SIM card.

//Network ready once NetworkAvailabilityChanged and NetworkAddressChanged fire (this may take up to a minute depending on your board/SIM).

Thread.Sleep(-1);
}

private static void NetworkChange_NetworkAddressChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
Debug.Print("Network address changed.");
}

private static void NetworkChange_NetworkAvailabilityChanged(object sender, NetworkAvailabilityEventArgs e)
{
Debug.Print("Network availability changed: " + e.IsAvailable.ToString());

if (e.IsAvailable)
{
Debug.Print(Dns.GetHostEntry("bing.com").AddressList[0].ToString());
}
}

private static void SendAT(SerialPort port, string command)
{
var sendBuffer = Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(command + "\r");
var readBuffer = new byte[256];
var read = 0;

port.Write(sendBuffer, 0, sendBuffer.Length);

while (true)
{
read += port.Read(readBuffer, read, readBuffer.Length - read);

var response = new string(Encoding.UTF8.GetChars(readBuffer, 0, read));

if (response.IndexOf("OK") != -1 || response.IndexOf("CONNECT") != -1)
break;
}
}
}
What's Next?
As many of you know by now, there has been a renewed focus on IoT and NETMF from Microsoft. Microsoft has recently released a new website, VS2013 support, alpha VS2014 support and a new Gadgeteer release to work with the new NETMF release. The next step for GHI Electronics is to release a beta SDK taking advantage of the VS2013 and VS2014 support. That and concentrating on improving networking, which is something that Microsoft and GHI Electronics are currently working on.

As always, we would like to thank our community and customers for their loyalty and support throughout the years.

NETMF and Gadgeteer package 2014 R4: http://www.ghielectronics.com/support/netmf/sdk/23/netmf-and-gadgeteer-package-2014-r4

Monday, October 6, 2014 5:25:01 AM
This community has amazed us for years, where we have gone through good times and bad times. Some members are here on a daily basis helping, contributing or just checking in. Talk about community dedication (or even addiction)! We would love to say thank you to all of you one by one for making this community happen. But wait, we are not stopping there. We also want to send some gifts to you.

So, who is getting the gifts? For the month of August, we were tracking who posted in the forum or contributed to codeshare. Our members who posted 10 or more times in the forum or shared some code will receive a randomly selected yet awesome product from the Outrageous Circuits catalog! Don't worry, these products ship ready to use with no programming needed, however they are hackable using the free tools provided by mbed. We had 40+ members Clapping , who made the list and several more who were really, really close. If your name is on the list then you have until 9 am, 10/13/2014 (our time) to login into your account and verify your address before we start shipping out the gifts.

You never know when we will do this again so please keep posting and sharing! Grin

Again, thanks to all of these top contributors in the month of August and also to all of our other members who make this community happen.

THE LIST

@andre.m - 194
@njbuch - 124 (Codeshare)
@Justin - 115
@Jason - 102 (Codeshare)
@Brett - 102
@Reinhard Ostermeier - 98
@Dave McLaughlin - 87 (Codeshare)
@hagster - 87 (Codeshare)
@Mr. John Smith - 75
@RoSchmi - 57 (Codeshare)
@dspacek - 50
@Simon from Vilnius - 50 (Codeshare)
@kgcode - 46
@Mike - 44
@Robert24 - 41
@mhectorgato - 40
@godefroi - 35
@PiWi - 33 (Codeshare)
@David Emrol - 30
@ Duke Nukem - 29
@Gene - 26
@scicco - 24
@RobvanSchelven - 23
@einsteinagogo - 22
@Jay Jay 21
@devhammer - 21
@Architect - 18
@microt - 18
@thomas_exmakhina - 18
@Larry1 - 18
@ChrisO - 17 (Codeshare)
@Dulfe - 17
@bauland - 16 (Codeshare)
@kiwi_stu - 16
@Cuno - 16
@DanW - 16
@skeller - 15
@Ehsan Ansari - 15
@sandy - 15
@munderhill - 14
@Bec a Fuel - 14
@Skewworks - 14
@jasdev - 14
@jeffnuck - 13
@PintSize.Me - 13
@willgeorge - 11
@Iggmoe - 10
@VB-Daniel - 10
@HypersonicHonda - 10
@Sivat - 10
@royshearer - 10
@dobova - 10
@4egod - Codeshare

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 11:20:00 PM
Today we are releasing the beta update to the .NET Micro Framework SDK. The release adds support for Visual Studio 2013, which has been a top request from the .NET MF community for some time now. The project is developed by engineers assigned to the MS...(read more)
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 7:16:25 AM
Yesterday, we opened another avenue to our customers, to those wishing to program natively, closer the metal. The mBuino Platform is live now at http://mbed.org/platforms/outrageous-circuits-mbuino/.

As you may know by now this avenue is called Outrageous Circuits and the platform started with the mBuino Development board, a smart programmable keychain. Starting with this platform, we developed many simple, fun and outrageous circuits. Circuits like, an electronics dice, an LED roulette, an LED picture frame and more. All of these hobby targeted circuits are available on our secondary website, http://www.OutrageousCircuits.com

Why mbed? When someone asks us what do we do at GHI Electronics, we say we are "where hardware meets software", a software development company that sells hardware not software! This has been our unique and very successful business model for over 10 years. As we always seek to expand the possibilities for our customers and to find a native programming solution for our customers, we found mbed to be the answer. mbed is an online compiler combined with a complete framework to expose the hardware in a simpler form. There is nothing to install, everything runs right in the browser, which can be on any modern operating system! The compiled binary is then loaded on the hardware using just a USB cable. If desired, the project can be downloaded and used in a commercial IDE for debugging.

As for our commercial customers and the main GHI Electronics website, we are working on few ideas with ARM's mbed team. We are open to suggestions and wish lists while we are still on the drawing board.

Going forward most announcements for Outrageous Circuits will be on the Outrageous Circuits website and the Outrageous Circuits forum board within the GHI community. To make sure you receive the latest Outrageous Circuits news please subscribe to the RSS feed found at http://www.outrageouscircuits.com.

Outrageous Circuits: http://www.outrageouscircuits.com
Outrageous Circuits mBuino mbed Platform: http://mbed.org/platforms/outrageous-circuits-mbuino/
Outrageous Circuits Forum: http://www.ghielectronics.com/community/forum/board?id=31
Outrageous Circuits RSS Feed: http://www.outrageouscircuits.com/news/rss

Monday, September 15, 2014 3:30:15 AM
Before we talk about new features, let us thank you all for your patience while we went through all of the major changes in recent months. The work load was huge and not easy but with the amazing team we have at GHI Electronics we were able to achieve amazing results. See previous news announcements for further details on these changes.

USB Host on the Cerb family of devices
We are proud to bring the USB Host feature to the Cerb family, just like all other NETMF SoMs. IF you have a FEZ Cerbuino then the USB host connector can now be used. If you have a FEZ Cerberus, you can now plug in the USB Host module and use it, just like you would on the FEZ Spider. But due to memory limitations, USB Cameras are not supported. USB mass storage devices, mice, keyboards, and even serial devices are supported.

RLP for the Cerb family
Not only were we able to add USB Host but we were also able to keep RLP for the Cerb family! The RLP memory size was reduced from 12k to 4k, however by using existing extensions you can dynamically use memory from the heap for use with RLP.

Commercializing the Cerberus firmware
As announced before, beginning in 4.3, the Cerberus firmware is no longer open source and it is not available for commercial use. We are still working on the details but we are going to release the next generation NETMF System on Chip (SoC). Simply put, we will provide you with an SoC that harnesses the power of NETMF in the package of a chipset. This is not all, by using this SoC you will have a full commercial license with no additional licensing fees!

Stability of the current SDK
The previous SDK was downloaded over 2000 times with only a handful of reported minor issues, which were all fixed in this release. There are still a few small issues that we are working on and they are posted on our issue tracking system. As for adding further features, we are not planning on adding any new features until all issues are 100% covered. Our goal is to have a rock solid NETMF SDK release before the end of this year.

The Internet of Things!
This is the new catch phrase that everyone is using these days, so lets talk about this a bit. We very strongly believe that NETMF is the answer for most networking needs, for the Internet of Things (IoT). It is right in the middle, in the sweet spot, between basic low-level-difficult-to-develop systems and full-blown-slow-booting-virus-magnet-operating-systems. We are concentrating all our efforts now on improving the networking features, including Ethernet, WiFi and even PPP. This includes showing some complete project examples on what can be done with NETMF and the IoT. And speaking of PPP, we were able to establish a connection between two NETMF devices over PPP but the TCP/IP layer is still not working properly. This feature will be addressed in the next release.

Thank you again for all your support through the years and we look forward to the challenges that lay ahead!

NETMF SDK 4.3 R3 2014: http://www.ghielectronics.com/support/netmf/sdk/21/netmf-and-gadgeteer-package-2014-r3
Issuer Tracker: http://www.ghielectronics.com/tracker/list/open

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