UPDATED: Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer – Open hardware

Pt 101391

Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer

Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio/Visual C# Express. Build all manner of electronic gadgets quickly and easily with .NET Gadgeteer.

.NET Micro Framework 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.

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.

The .NET Gadgeteer source code is subject to the Apache License, version 2.0. In addition to the source code that we make available here, we also include hardware specifications and designs under a Creative Commons license. Each of these is governed by their respective licenses.

We are getting lots of emails about this – it’s unclear if it’s actually open source hardware (please correct us if we’re wrong, it’s a little confusing).

We have an email out to Microsoft to clarify if the files are available and where.

Regardless, it’s good to see more dev boards getting out there and more parts being opened up. We hope this is like the netduino and is a completely open source hardware project as well… The age of open low cost dev boards continues to play out.

Update: From the comments: ““This quote from Gus@GHI: All FEZ boards are open source so far. As for FEZ Spider, I do not see why not, but GHI is still clearing out some final details before release or doing anything in that area.””

EricH in the comments also says “The boards aren’t generally available until 9/30 (you can preorder now), so I’m assuming from that comment they are getting all their ducks in a row before publishing the files.”

Make sense, this is good to see!

Update: Note from Microsoft:

Hi Phillip

Thanks for your email and your interest in .NET Gadgeteer. You’re right that we don’t _yet_ have any schematics or board layouts online. Doing this is a key part of what we mean by being ‘open’ but we were so busy at OSCON and Maker Faire over the last week that it’s taking us a few days longer than we’d hoped to make everything available.

I saw your post at http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2011/08/03/microsoft-net-gadgeteer-open-hardware/, and to specifically reply to the questions raised there:

* Our intention is that the .NET Gadgeteer platform is open for anybody to build hardware and software that works with it. We are publishing all the stuff we’ve created for .NET Gadgeteer – source code, interface specifications, reference hardware designs, example projects – to enable that. Not everything is on the website yet, please bear with us – it’ll be up very soon at http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com !

* We are using the Apache 2.0 and Creative Commons-BY licenses depending on the type of artefact being published (software under Apache 2.0).

* We are hosting a central repository (http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com/) for open hardware designs and open source software compatible with .NET Gadgeteer. We will post the schematics and layouts of our reference designs there and hope that others will follow our lead. The decision about publishing HW designs for boards made by others rests with the companies/individuals who created them – we don’t want to mandate anything but rather give people as many options as possible.

If you think this information will be useful to others please feel free to share it/update your blog entry… Apologies about the ambiguity. When we have our designs up we’ll also review the text on our website to try and make sure we’re really clear about what we’re trying to do. But in the meantime please do let us know if you have any other questions – as you can imagine we’ve been really close to this for quite some time and it’s great to get input from some different perspectives.

Thanks and kind regards,

Steve (and the Gadgeteer team)

Here is our follow up!

is the .net runtime going to be open sourced?

for example, what is the time table for these three layers:

1. hardware (schematics/board layout)
2. firmware (.NET RTOS/runtime that is programmed into ARM chip)
3. software (API and interface for all the accessories)


Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !


  1. Way too expensive…

  2. Take a look at the draft module builders’s guide at http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com/releases/view/65417 for more information on hardware specs. GHI (makers of FEZ boards) makes the "Spider" shown above. Details at http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/category/265/.

  3. @erich, can you post a link to the hardware files?

  4. Awesome!

  5. This quote from Gus@GHI:

    “All FEZ boards are open source so far. As for FEZ Spider, I do not see why not, but GHI is still clearing out some final details before release or doing anything in that area.”

    The boards aren’t generally available until 9/30 (you can preorder now), so I’m assuming from that comment they are getting all their ducks in a row before publishing the files.

    Specs on the spider mainboard. It is based on GHI’s EMX offering and has a ton of features (for the price).

    72MHz. 32-bit ARM7 processor
    4.5 MB Flash
    16 MB RAM
    LCD controller
    Full TCP/IP Stack with SSL, HTTP, TCP, UDP, DHCP
    Ethernet, WiFi driver and PPP ( GPRS/ 3G modems) and DPWS
    USB host
    USB Device with specialized libraries to emulate devices like thumb-drive, virtual COM (CDC), mouse, keyboard
    76 GPIO Pins
    2 SPI (8/16bit)
    4 UART
    2 CAN Channels
    7 10-bit Analog Inputs.
    10-bit Analog Output (capable of WAV audio playback)
    4-bit SD/MMC Memory card interface
    6 PWM
    OneWire interface (available on any IO).
    Built-in Real Time Clock (RTC) with the suitable crystal
    Processor register access
    OutputCompare for generating waveforms with high accuracy
    RLP allowing users to load native code (C/Assembly) for real-time requirements.
    Extended double-precision math class
    FAT File System
    Cryptography (AES and XTEA)
    Low power and hibernate support
    In-field update (from SD, network or other)

  6. @ericH, thank you! posted updated!

  7. Many kudos to Microsoft Research for getting the Gadgeteer core open sourced earlier this year. Great team of people, went through lots of effort to make that happen.

    As I understand it, the core Gadgeteer hardware and software is LGPL-style open source (Apache, BSD, CC). This allows both open source implementations and proprietary implementations.

    The first mainboard implementation (shown here) is a bit open source, majority closed source. GHI mentioned that some of it may be published in the future (some schematics and some accessory source code). The core of it is a commercial GHI EMX module (closed-source version of .NET Micro Framework, design files not available) which is where most of the code lives–so most source is closed-source.

    On the accessories…several accessories are supported by the open source Gadgeteer core (pushbutton, LED, joystick, etc.). Several accessories are proprietary add-ons to Gadgeteer (USB Host, camera, SD, maybe WiFi). Wrapper source and schematics may be available–but no source that powers the actual hardware.

    Again, kudos to the Gadgeteer team for open sourcing the bits they have so far. I’m looking forward to v2.0; hopefully we can get this all open sourced in time.


  8. “is the .net runtime going to be open sourced?”

    If you mean NETMF source code, which I think you do, it has been open source (Apache 2.0) since v4.0 was released in November 2009. It is available at http://netmf.codeplex.com/

  9. Here’s an informative response from GHI on the question of open source, gadgeteer, and their Spider.


  10. How does this compare in terms of cpu speed and power requirements to the arduino boards?

    THX, CRS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.