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FEZ Panda

Last week I recieved a new product, the so called FEZ Panda.

FEZ Panda from GHI Electronics

The FEZ Panda is an ARM7 board, in an Arduino-form-factor, running the .NET Micro Framework. This makes it possible to develop the applications inside Visual Studio using C#. Debugging is also done thru Visual Studio and in my opinion it is very easy to get started.

The great thing about the FEZ Panda, compared to a normal Arduino is the features and the speed.

FEZ Panda features

Instead of a simple 8-bit processor, this is a 32-bit ARM processor clocked at 72MHz. This makes it a monster compared to the Arduino series! The board contains 4 COM ports, 2 SPI ports, real SD interface, a lot of PWMs, Analog inputs (ADC), Analog outputs (DAC), I2C, CAN, USB Client, USB Host – you name it.
Inside the ARM processor, the .NET Micro Framework is running, which includes a FAT filesystem stack. This makes it possible to connect FAT formatted SD card or USB memory sticks to the board.

With this board you get a lot of power and a growing community. There is a lot of examples included, and many more can be downloaded from the .NET Micro Framework projects page.
GHI Electronics, who is the manufactor of this board, has other boards running .NETMF too. They have a bigger version of this FEZ Panda, but still in the Arduino-form-factor, called FEZ Domino
This board is almost twice as expensive, but in my opinion you don’t get twice as much – only a USB Host connecter and an SD card slot. You actually have far less IO’s on the FEZ Domino than on the FEZ Panda, which I think is bad. So I recommend you to try the FEZ Panda!

In my next post I will show how to use the “hidden” USB Host function on the FEZ Panda – as it isn’t stated as supported on the product page, the ARM processor support both USB Host and Client. The only thing it requires, is a little USB Cable tweaking and a firmware update of the ARM to the latest firmware from GHI Electronics.

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  1. Eddie
    October 3rd, 2011 at 12:46 | #1

    ha you know what i was about to shell out 60 bucks just for the host capabilities but if you say the panda II actually has it then might has well right..? and i definitely noticed the lack of GPIOs but i do understand why are they crippling the board like that? perhaps because they are used on the SD slot and USB host connector but still a simple warning like “hey do not use these pins if your using the SD at the same time..” anywho i like Blog man keep it up. …

    was also wondering perhaps a post on your thought about the Upcoming Arduino Due

  2. October 3rd, 2011 at 14:01 | #2

    Hi Eddie.
    Thank you for the kind words.

    I totally agree in your statement, that it is ridiculous to spend $60 on a FEZ Domino with both USB Host and Client function when you can modify a FEZ Panda I or II to support USB Host too.
    Also I don’t know why they have only brought out that few pins on the Domino – it’s definitely not because of the SD card, because have a look at the FEZ Panda II… On board SD card 😉

    Though one minor bummer is that you can’t debug thru USB when using USB Host on the FEZ Panda.

    About the Arduino Due, I just read about it this weekend. I’ll probably make a short post with my comments and thoughts.

    Best Regards
    Thomas Jespersen

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