Click on the link above to visit the product page for FEZ Panda II.
Rear view of the board (not as interesting as the front).
FEZ Panda II is basically a microcontroller board that runs .NET Micro Framework (in the controller), allowing user to program and debug FEZ Panda II using Microsoft’s free version of Visual C# Express. If you are a C# Coder, this board is a very good start for you to switch from PC Programming to Microcontroller Programming. I have tried to write some code for the board, and I will say it is really like writing a C# application for PC, but this one runs on this little board. The speed of the board is 72MHz, and it uses NXP LPC2387 as the main controller. You can refer to the product page for the full list of specification for FEZ Panda II.
Some brief introduction about dotNET Micro Framework. dotNET Framework is something like a frame, or a layer on top of your Windows for some dotNET application to run on it. As for dotNET Micro Framework, it is a frame/layer on top of some microcontroller (in our case, NXP LPC2387) for dotNET Micro application to run on top of it. Therefore, we will no longer writing C or assembly coding for the ARM7 controller, but a dotNET Micro application that is compatible for all dotNET Micro Framework device (some special feature for the board might have compatibility issue).
Some basic feature for the controller, the on-board feature including, USB Mini connector, DC Plug power in, MicroSD slot, RTC crystal, Arduino Compatible port, and extra 2 x 40 port for extra I/O port.
Required Supporting Item(s)
FEZ Panda II doesn’t really need any supporting item to start. You will need a Mini USB cable, which is included in the package when you buy FEZ Panda II. Other than that, it is advised to have a Arduino Development Platform ADP01 (http://www.e-shore.com.my/homepage/eshop/arduino-development-platform-with-8mm-pcb-stand) as the platform to hold FEZ Panda II and a Breadboard/Protoboard for some prototyping when you test your program.
The ADP01 also compatible with the FEZ Touch.
Software and Driver Installation
I will not go through in detail for all the software installation under here, but the process are pretty easy. Under the product page, browse to the Description tab, and go to the last item, More Downloads & Tutorials.
From there you can click to the TinyCLR Support page that provides the downloads for all required software.
The listed items under System Preparation is required, and you will need to download and install all of them. The 1st one is the Microsoft Visual C# Express 2010, which is the IDE for your dotNET Micro Framework application devlopment. 2nd on is the Microsoft .NET Micro Framework, which is the framework (doesn’t comes with the Microsoft Visual C#). The 3rd one is the GHI package, which includes the SDK, driver, firmware updater required for all FET dotNET Micro Framework product.
Update the Firmware
After all the installation is done, you can now plug in your FEZ Panda II to your PC, using Mini USB cable. You PC should automatically search for the installed driver, let it run for few seconds.
After the driver is found it should be listed as GHI .NET Micro Framework USB Debugging Interface.
Before you start any coding, you will need to update the firmware for your FEZ Panda II, go to your start menu > All Programs > GHI Electronics > GHI NETMF v4.1 SDK > Firmware Update > USBizi Updater.exe (use USBizi Updater for FEZ Panda II). Click to start the updater.
Follow the instruction on the Updater, press and hold the loader LDR button, press and release the RESET button and lastly release the loader button.
The button on the left is RESET button and the button on the right is LDR button.
After the buttons press and release, your PC should detect a new device connected. Just let the driver installation to automatically run itself. Then you can start the firmware update by clicking the Update button.
If the connection to the board is successful, you will see the “USBizi found at Port#: COMxx” under Log Information and it will need your confirmation to proceed. Click OK.
It takes around 20-30 seconds and you should see “Firmware updated successfully…..". Please take note that the firmware update operation cannot be disturb or abort in the middle of the process. Make sure the USB connection is done nicely, and let the whole process complete without any interruption to the board.
Software installation done, firmware update done, lets move on to our first dotNET project. Fire up your Visual C# 2010 Express.
Click File > New Project. Under the Installed Templates, you should see Gadgeteer and Micro Framework. Click on Micro Framework and you should see FEZ Panda II Application under the list. Give a Name to the project like “Panda II Project 1” and click OK to create the project.
After you have the Project created, you should see the Solution Explorer at the right side of Visual C# IDE. under the Solution Explorer, double click on the Program.cs to open the main code file.
It open out a piece of code, that is the template for FEZ Panda II. The code is basically blink the led on FEZ Panda II at the period of 1 second. Under the while loop, it Sleep (delay) for 500 miliseconds, toggle the ledState, and write the ledState to the led.
Before you build or run or deploy the code to your FEZ Panda II, you will need to configure the hardware under Panda II Project 1. Right click at the “Panda II Project 1” under Solution Explorer and choose Properties, or you can simply double click on the “Properties” under Solution Explorer to open the Properties page.
Go to the last tab, .NET Micro Framework, and change the Transport from Emulator to USB. Every time you create new project for dotNET Micro Framework, the default deployment transport will be Emulator. So, you will need to configure for every new project.
If your FEZ Panda II is connected you should see “USBizi_USBizi” automatically selected under the Device. If you haven’t connect the FEZ Panda II board, simply reselect the USB under Transport and let it auto detect the “USBizi_USBizi”. You can now close the Properties page.
Now, everything should be ready, don’t modify the code yet, just use the default FEZ Panda II template. And try to find the Play button (it is actually the Start Debugging button) on the Toolbars.
Click it, and it should start building the project, and deploy (Visual C#, use the term “deploy” to indicate loading the assembly code onto the dotNET Micro Framework device). Keep your eyes on the LED on the board, and it should start blinking.
One thing you need to take note is once you start the debugging, the assembly code will be deployed onto the device. The code will keep running even if you stop the debugger or reset the board. If you do not want to use this “Start Debugging” method to deploy the assembly code to the board, you can also build the solution and deploy it manually by right click on the solution under the Solution Explorer.
So, that’s it, you can now start your coding journey with your FEZ Panda II. If you wish to buy FEZ Panda II, please proceed with the link: