Have you ever wanted to assemble and program your own electronic device? I mean something a little more than Lego. Well, Microsoft and their partners have just released .NET Gadgeteer. It's an open-source software and hardware project aimed at making it easy to develop electronic devices.
The concept is simple. Using common hardware modules (displays, storage, network, etc.) and a mainboard (motherboard) with an embedded processor, you can quickly go from concept to testing. The Gadgeteer runs on the open source .NET Micro Framework platform and is programmed in C# using Visual Studio or Visual C# (all versions including express).
Here's a quote from Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer website:
A new way to make sophisticated devices
Even someone with little or no electronics background can build devices made up of components like sensors, lights, switches, displays, communications, motor controllers, and much more. Just pick your components, plug them into a mainboard and program the way they work together. .NET Gadgeteer utilizes the .NET Micro Framework to make writing code for your device as easy as writing a desktop, Web or Windows Phone application.
An open source and open hardware community project
If you're building projects with .NET Gadgeteer, you'll find a wealth of inspiration on this site. If you're interested in building .NET Gadgeteer hardware, you can find hardware interface specifications and core libraries at http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com. A variety of hardware vendors are building components for .NET Gadgeteer, so you'll have a huge assortment of modules to choose from.
A creative tool with something for everybody
Educators - .NET Gadgeteer is a great way to excite students about programming, electronics and design.
Hobbyists and Inventors - Bring your ideas to life in hours instead of days or weeks. Develop your ideas easily and show your friends and potential investors.
Professional Prototypers - Go from concept to test in less than a day. Hardware, software and physical design come together to enable quick assessment of sophisticated concepts.
.NET Gadgeteer Hardware
A .NET Gadgeteer system is composed of a mainboard containing an embedded processor and a variety of modules which connect to the mainboard through a simple plug-and-play interface. There are lots of .NET Gadgeteer modules available today: display, camera, networking, storage, input controls, and more modules are being designed all the time!
The .NET Gadgeteer mainboard's sockets are numbered, and each is labeled with one or more letters which indicate which modules can be plugged into it:
Each .NET Gadgeteer module contains a corresponding socket which indicates what sort of mainboard sockets it requires. Just match the letters between mainboard and module, and you've assembled a working electronic device!
.NET Gadgeteer Software
.NET Gadgeteer devices are programmed in C# using the .NET Micro Framework. You can apply your knowledge of .NET programming on the desktop, Web or phone to embedded devices. Plus, you get wonderful Visual Studio features like Intellisense.
You can also debug your .NET Gadgeteer programs while they are running on the device - a unique feature which makes troubleshooting your .NET Gadgeteer devices much easier.
.NET Gadgeteer Physical Design
Combine the power of rapid hardware and software prototyping with innovative physical construction tools like 3D printers and laser cutters! A variety of tools under development will make it easy to design enclosures for your .NET Gadgeteer project.
For more information on Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer, please follow the links below:
Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer
Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer on Codeplex