Today Microsoft Open Sourced the reference designs to the .Net Gadgeteer, a rapid prototyping, education/hobbyist kit built on the .NET Micro Framework.
The .Net Gadgeteer team has spent the past few months redesigning and re-implementing the kit to ensure that the architecture will work with the widest variety of processors and support the most diverse set of modules.
The .NET Gadgeteer is based on a set of pluggable modules that remove the need to create specific connections for each electronic component - you only need to plug the modules in. This greatly speeds up the process of building experimental devices and also removes the need for any electronics background to bring your ideas to reality.
In addition to making the hardware development easy, .NET Gadgeteer includes a set of libraries that provide a high level, high productivity development environment so that you can create the intelligence of the device in just a few lines of code.
These libraries are built on the .Net Micro Framework which provides a deep integration with the powerful Microsoft development tools. Now you can develop embedded logic in Visual Studio using C# then deploy the application to the device and debug that application using the rich debugging capabilites of the IDE.
The reference implementation includes the software libraries, which are licensed under Apache 2.0, as well as the designs and specifications for the hardware, which are licensed under the Creative Commons.
Program Unit Manager Colin Miller tells me that the .Net Gadgeteer platform has generated a great deal of enthusiasm among hobbyists and educators as it enables people with a wide range of electronics and programming skills to create an almost limitless array of devices. (Watch this video for more background).
“Our goal is to encourage and support third parties to build kits and modules that all work together to create a rich ecosystem for the user community. This software is still in beta form and we encourage your input on it. We will also aggressively encourage and support vendors interested in evaluating the potential of the platform,” he says.