Microsoft debuts software for homebrew gadget builds

Microsoft's .NET Gadgeteer provides a development platform for home electronic projects

Hardware hackers building their own gadgets may want to take a look at a new offering from Microsoft that promises to save time in prototyping new devices: a software development platform for home-built gadgets, called .Net Gadgeteer.

".Net Gadgeteer utilizes the .Net Micro Framework to make writing code for your device as easy as writing a desktop, Web or Windows Phone application," Microsoft's newly launched Web site for the software explained.

Microsoft envisions the initial audience for .Net Gadgeteer to be educators, hobbyists and inventors. Hardware designers could also use the tool to rapidly build prototypes as well.

Gadgeteer provides a platform for writing software to control simple home-built electronic devices, made from Gadgeteer-compatible components.

Starting with a mainboard with an embedded processor, developers can assemble a device by adding sensors, displays, cameras, lights, switches, motor controllers and other components. Gadgeteer components will all have the same type of connector, eliminating the need for the soldering.

Developers can then write their code to run their creations in Visual Studio, using C# and the Gadgeteer plug-in software. Through Visual Studio's Intellisense feature, Gadgeteer adds a set of prompts that can help developers complete their code. The resulting control program can then be downloaded to the device by way of a USB connection to the mainboard.

CodePlex hosts the Gadgeteer source and binary code, as well as documentation specifying the hardware interfaces between the mainboard and the components.

Microsoft Research's Sensors and Devices Group developed Gadgeteer. Thus far Microsoft researchers have already built several components using the platform, such as a digital camera and a digital flipbook.

GHI Electronics offers a starter kit of electronic components that is compatible with Gadgeteer, which costs about US$250. Microsoft expects other electronic manufacturers to start vending Gadgeteer compatible components as well.

Microsoft has been a big proponent of low cost networked embedded devices, especially for the enterprise. ""The real value around the devices is their ability to capture the data, analyze that information and drive business efficiencies," said Microsoft Windows Embedded General Manager Kevin Dallas earlier this year.

Microsoft faces some competition in providing software for the home build-it-yourself gadget market however. Arduino has long offered an open source electronics prototyping platform.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceDevelopment toolsapplication developmentMicrosoftroboticssoftware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Xiro Drone Xplorer V -3 Axis Gimbal & 1080p Full HD 14MP Camera

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on Good Gear Guide

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?