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.


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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Monday, November 17, 2014 4:37:02 AM
Do you think RETRO style games are awesome? WE DO TOO, which is one of the reasons we created the "RETRO Game Contest"! Using the RETRO game console that we designed around the mBuino platform on mbed, we are calling on all gaming enthusiast. To show our enthusiasm we are putting up cash for the top 3 games created for the RETRO game console. Prizes are as follows:

$1,000 USD Cash plus 10 products from OutrageousCircuits.com - First Prize
$500 USD Cash plus 5 products from OutrageousCircuits.com - Second Prize
$250 USD Cash plus 2 products from OutrageousCircuits.com - Third Prize

Not just that, if you show us your skills in programming we will ship a RETRO right to you to create the game and to keep for free. There is a limited quantity on the available free RETROs, these will ship based on a first come/ first serve basis. If you were not one of the lucky ones to receive the free RETRO, you can still enter the contest if you own a RETRO.

Now that we have your attention, we will tell you how to enter. Simply go to the registration page, http://www.outrageouscircuits.com/contest , fill out your contact information and tell us why you think you should receive a free console.

RETRO technical details: http://developer.mbed.org/teams/Outrageous-Circuits/wiki/RETRO_Game_Console
The contest registration and complete rules: http://www.outrageouscircuits.com/contest
The Outrageous Circuits forum: https://www.ghielectronics.com/community/forum/board?id=31
mBuino Platform: http://developer.mbed.org/platforms/Outrageous-Circuits-mBuino/
mbed: http://mbed.org/

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 11:10:57 AM
Looking at the blog history, it has been exactly two years since I last made an entry so it about time for a new update. Let’s talk about why the team is back and what we are doing. Some months ago at the BUILD conference, Steve Teixeira (Director...(read more)
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 2:29:34 AM
With the previous release of a complete and stable SDK, we finally had time to dig into the networking issues and couple other difficult issues! Thanks to the great efforts put forth by our engineers, this release improves networking stability while addressing other issues like adding new functionality to make working with bitmaps even easier. We also want to thank the customers who have helped us in testing the new firmware.

Speaking of networking, Microsoft is currently rewriting the way the networking stack works inside NETMF. This will make the stack even better, as explained here http://netmf.codeplex.com/discussions/569521

Our tests indicate that the networking stack is stable, even for commercial use. However, it is possible that some issues will pop up under stress, like failing to accept sockets. These issues will be in any NETMF device and port, GHI or non-GHI. This fix is in what Microsoft is working on today and we look forward to incorporate their improvements when they become available.

Finally with the recent NETMF release by Microsoft, they changed the way they hook into Visual Studio. As a result, we found it best to no longer install NETMF or Gadgeteer with our SDK. You will need to install them manually like before. The steps on our NETMF support page, http://www.ghielectronics.com/support/netmf , will outline what to do. If you already have the latest versions installed, there is nothing for you to do. Until Microsoft releases a non-beta version of the NETMF SDK, we will continue to support 4.3 QFE1 with VS2012, however you may install their new beta release to use VS2013.

What is next for NETMF?
Until Microsoft's next release, we will continue working with our customers and the community on fixing any hidden issues. There are also few minor issues on our task tracker that we will cover as well https://www.ghielectronics.com/tracker/list/open but beyond that, we would like to give our developers a break for all the hard work they have been doing for a very long time. So, if you are in the area, stop by and have a drink with them. If not, a +1 or maybe a reply to congratulate our developers on acheiving this massive milestone.

NETMF and Gadgeteer Package 2014 R5: http://www.ghielectronics.com/support/netmf/sdk/24/netmf-and-gadgeteer-package-2014-r5

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 6:24:19 AM
The open source FEZ Hydra is arguably one of the most complex open source designs made with EAGLE! From the start, we made sure everything was designed with tools that are easily accessible to the open source community. Not only was the hardware designed using EAGLE, but the software can be compiled with an open source GCC compiler.

Today, we are announcing an update to the FEZ Hydra. The new FEZ Hydra+ is 100% backward compatible with the original FEZ Hydra but it exposes all signals on 0.1"-spaced-pads allowing users to use these signals through NETMF directly and easily, without going through Gadgeteer. Of course, the sockets are still available for those wanting to use .NET Gadgeteer. The new 100% compatible FEZ Hydra+ replaces the original FEZ Hydra; however, the original FEZ Hydra will be available for purchase until the end of this year.

At $30, the board sells at near cost, as a "thank you" from us to the open source community. However, a clarification is needed here, especially to our commercial customers. FEZ Hydra was designed using simple tools that are easily accessible to the open source community. These tools do not provide signal integrity checks and the board did not go though FCC/CE testing, like we do with our System on Modules. The noise on the original FEZ Hydra and FEZ Hydra+ can interfere with the system, such as in networking, and cause random, but very rare, failures. We would also like reiterate that the boards sell at near cost to help developers and the open source community get into NETMF at lower cost and it is not meant to be used commercially. There is no guarantee we will continue on developing the FEZ Hydra software.

Due to the reasons above, we will be adding a "for non-commercial use" wording in the device name in the software. However, this does not prohibit you from using the FEZ Hydra commercially, but it is not recommended that you do so. Please contact us directly with any related questions or concerns.

FEZ Hydra will continue to be open source and all the sources are freely provided for commercial and non commercial use, as highlighted by the Apache2 and creative commons licenses. The links to the design files and source code repository are available on the product page.

FEZ Hydra+: http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/530

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!

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);

//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.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).


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)

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)
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

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