There is a new .Net Micro Framework board in town !
In the past few months, MikroElektronika release the Quail Board as a solution for building hardware prototypes using all the best features of .Net Micro Framework and the related “click” boards for a lot of type of external devices, like sensors (humidity, temperature, …), wifi module, OLED and so on.
The Quail board is based on the powerful STM32F427 MCU, a Cortex-M4 at 180 Mhz with 2 MB of Flash and 256 KB of RAM with the related porting of .Net Micro Framework 4.3. Added to the MCU we can find 8 MB of external Flash, USB port for external mass storage (other than the USB port for debugging and powering the board from PC) and 24 screw terminals (to avoid to use a “click” board and connected your component directly to the board).
To simplify prototyping, it has four sockets you can use to put up to four “click” boards without needs to solder your components. These sockets aren’t like .Net Gadgeteer sockets we know but MikroElektronika had developed a new type of standard socket called MikroBUS.
A MikroBUS socket consists of two female headers both with 8 pins related to the most used MCU features :
All the boards that supported the MikroBUS and provided by MikroElektronika are called “click” boards (about 50 so far) because it’s so simple to connect them to the board … with a simple “click” !
The idea of this new board with related support for .Net Micro Framework started with a collaboration between MikroElektronika and a team of software and hardware professionals from France called MikroBUS.Net. Thanks to this team we have an SDK for using MikroBUS on Quail board (like other SDKs for Netduino and .Net Gadgteer baords) and the source code for all “click” boards drivers written in managed code (using C#).
Other than original “click” boards you can reuse your .Net Gadgeteer supported modules (from GHI Electronics) thanks to the G-Adapters that are able to adapt .Net Gadgeteer socket with MikroBUS socket. Until today not all drivers are available for all modules but the team is still working on them. Another interesting feature is the “Virtual Socket” : you can connect a component to the board using the screw terminals without MikroBUS socket but using it like you had a socket. In this way you can use the provided driver even if you don’t have the component not mounted on a “click” board.
Of course you can develop your applications using a first class IDE like Visual Studio 2013 (also the Community Edition) and manage code with C# as language.
It was just a quick introduction but in the future we’ll deep into it to understand how to use and develop with this powerful board !
Thank you for the kind words ! :) Here are some precisions about the MikroBUS.NET environment : - although I personnaly reside in France, the MBN team is a collaboration of people in USA, Denmark and UK/New-Zealand ;) - MikroElektronika has built more than 100 Click boards but indeed we only have NETMF drivers for about 50 of them at the moment. - We provide templates to help people build their own drivers (mainly SPI and I2C drivers) and a template for a MBN application. This one will take care of adding the needed references and prepare a nice program.cs file That said, everyone is welcome if you want to write drivers or already have written some and you want them to be "MBN compatible" (very easy) About the Virtual Sockets, we are currently preparing a blog post with more details on it : what it is and how to use it. It should be online very soon. After this one, another blog post will cover the Storage class, that permits the use of any memory module (Flash, EEProm, FRAM) to be used as a storage place (to store sensors values, for example) or as a FileSystem device (using TinyFileSystem). If you have any question about the Quail board or any MBN feature, do not hesitate to ask everything on our forum : http://forum.mikrobusnet.org Thank you Paolo for this quick review. I hope you will have fun with your Quail board ;) _______ Christophe
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