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.
.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.
The meeting for this month has been canceled. We'll be back next month with a look at other Internet-Of-Things technologies, like Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone Black mini-computers. We'll be installing Mono on these devices to run .NET code. See you next month!
In October 2013, a new .NET Gadgeteer kit (REF) was launched specifically for education. It includes a low memory board and key modules that can be used in schools. The combination of modules and mainboard chosen keeps the cost down whilst allowing for sufficient different projects to give a full exposure to physical computing and programming.
Alongside the development of the kit, a new book "Programming in Visual Basic and .NET Gadgeteer" has been written by Sue Sentance and colleagues at Microsoft Research to use alongside this new education kit.
25 schools across the UK are now piloting both the kit and the books in schools. These schools range from middle schools to secondary schools with sixth forms and also include three girls-only schools. The schools are in England, Wales and Scotland, from Devon right up to Edinburgh! The pilot will end at the end of February and the schools will report back on their progress with .NET Gadgeteer but initial feedback indicates that the students are excited to be using the kits and enjoying learning to program in Visual Basic. For most students on the pilot, they have no prior knowledge of programming. The projects that are developed in the book include a tunes generator, stop watch, traffic lights, burglar alarm, morse code generator and a game. Each chapter covers a different set of programming concepts in an incremental way so that students gradually build up their confidence in programming.
Chris Atkinson, from St. Bede’s School, one of the pilot teachers reported: “The kits are fantastic!! We are using them with our gifted and talented students who are really enjoying learning programming! Although the buzzer lesson was an interesting lesson with the noise! Great fun for the kids, practice and the students are developing a love of programming. We have now developed a programming group because of this.”
Tom Hendry, from Balerno Community High School in Edinburgh says: “So far the gadgeteering is going great - the third years have started to make their own improvements to the gadgets [in the book], and the students will be starting to plan their own gadgets, which should lead to some good ones …
More information about the materials for .NET Gadgeteer can be found at http://gadgeteering.net/learn . Electronic copies of the book can be downloaded from this site, or there is an option to order a free hard copy (whilst stocks remain). The Gadgeteer kits for education can be purchased from GHI Electronics or various other electronic outlets.