Saturday, January 28, 2012

My FEZ Fan Page

FEZ stands for "Freakin' Easy!"

I have been playing with the FEZ Domino for a couple of years, which has been superseded by the FEZ Panda II. I let this project rest last year while I dug into PICAXE BASIC programming and ant-scale robotics; and to get a dent in MSP430 ANSI C. Mastering this platform will give me experience with C# and object-oriented programming, and a lot of expanded capabilities.

“The 72Mhz FEZ Panda II runs .NET Micro Framework, allowing users to program and debug FEZ Panda using Microsoft's free Visual C# Express. Applications are loaded over USB cable (or serial) with full featured debugging capabilities, such as stepping in code or inspecting variables.”

...Many libraries are already included like FAT file system, threading, UART, SPI, I2C, GPIO, PWM, ADC, DAC and many more.”

It is a 32-bit, 72 MHz ARM 9 processor with the embedded master chip-set integrated within. It is programmed via C#, is object-oriented and works within the MS .NETMF (Microsoft .NET Micro-format). I know it sounds like a lot of gobbley-gook; but let me break it down into its key capabilities. It is programmed in a higher level language and it provides a greater layer of abstraction than you can get with PICAXE Basic or ANSI C. You can load drivers for routine, repetitive tasks that others have written so your focus can be on the 'fun stuff'. There are drivers to allow you to easily implement Ethernet, wifi, zigby, USB host and client, MP3/4 music, GPS, etc. 32 bits has the power to process video images. C# is the root language of all of the .net languages (be it Visual Basic, C++, C#, etc.); the express version that MS offers for free is perfectly adequate for working with the FEZ. I like the idea of being able to use the same language to write a GUI (graphical user interface) for a computer desk-top application that I can use to program a microcontroller. The company that makes and markets the FEZ, GHI/Tiny Clear, also provides at no cost a lot of helpful material on getting started (even getting started with C#).

My aim in pursuing FEZ is to build and program a sensor platform with Web access as my great leap toward an internet-based robot telepresence (a robot I can control over the internet).

Essential Links

TinyCLR [Link]

GHI Electronics [Link]

FEZ Panda II [Link]

SW Downloads and Tutorials [Link]

Getting started, essential documents [Link]

My other interests [Link]