News

2014

April 09

Mountaineer 4.3.1 Beta 3 released

In addition to a bug fix, support for Microsoft's MFUpdate mechanism for in-field firmware updates, a hardware random number generator, and an experimental crypto library (Oberon.NaCl) have been added.


2014

March 31

Mountaineer 4.3.1 Beta 2 released

The Mountaineer SDK and firmware images have been updated to Microsoft's new NETMF 4.3.1 release, also known as NETMF 4.3 QFE1.


2014

March 27

mikroBUS.NET initiative announced, based on Mountaineer Firmware

Christophe Gerbier, Justin Wilson and Niels Jakob Buch have announced hardware and software that supports the mikroBUS specification. The software is built upon the Mountaineer Firmware. For more information, see here.


2013

October 18

Samples of "Getting Started with the Internet of Things" 4.3 Beta 1 released

The samples of the book Getting Started with the Internet of Things have been updated to work with the Mountaineer 4.3 SDK and firmware. They can be downloaded from the GSIoT Web site.


2013

October 16

Mountaineer 4.3 Beta 1 released

The Mountaineer SDK and firmware images have been updated to Microsoft's current NETMF 4.3 code base.


2012

December 19

Mountaineer 4.2 QFE2 released

The Mountaineer firmware images have been updated with new versions of NETMF 4.2 QFE2. With the original versions, it could sometimes happen that a text line produced with the help of Debug.Print got dropped or garbled, when transmitted from the device to the Visual Studio debug output window. This has been corrected.


2012

December 17

RC2 of "Getting Started with the Internet of Things" Samples for Mountaineer

A new version of the samples of the O'Reilly book Getting Started with the Internet of Things for Mountaineer mainboards was published. They can be downloaded from the GSIoT Web site.


2012

November 28

innovActive engineering joins the Mountaineer Group

The Italian software engineering firm innovActive engineering s.r.l. of Perugia, Italy, has joined the Mountaineer Group. The Mountaineer Group is a cooperation of independent companies that offer software and hardware engineering services, based on the open source .NET Micro Framework and the open source Mountaineer hardware platform.

innovActive engineering, like the other Mountaineer companies, is dedicated to high-quality engineering in the embedded space. Innovactive has been very active in the Italian NETMF community and has implemented a number of professional NETMF projects for its customers. Through its software development, hardware development, and training activities it will add further engineering excellence to the Mountaineer Group, and will help make the Mountaineer Platform even more useful to its customers.


2012

August 16

NETMF for STM32 (F4 Edition) Release 4.2 QFE2

Two days after Microsoft released the QFE2 update to the .NET Micro Framework 4.2, Oberon microsystems has published the corresponding source code updates to NETMF for STM32 (F4 Edition). This release supports robust WinUSB drivers and an analog output feature, which had been submitted by Oberon and has been accepted as a new NETMF standard feature by Microsoft. The firmware binaries and a guide explaining how the Mountaineer boards can be updated can be found here.


2012

June 13

Samples of "Getting Started with the Internet of Things" adapted to Mountaineer

The samples of the O'Reilly book Getting Started with the Internet of Things have been adapted to NETMF 4.2 and to the Mountaineer mainboards. They can be downloaded from the GSIoT Web site.


2012

May 18

The Mountaineer Group and GHI Electronics announce their cooperation

Switzerland and Michigan, USA. The Mountaineer Group announces that GHI Electronics will be their preferred partner for the distribution, support, and production of the .NET Gadgeteer mainboards designed by Mountaineer. Thanks to GHI's efficient production facilities and established distribution network, the high-quality Mountaineer Platform will become available to a far larger audience than the medium to large enterprises and government organizations that the Mountaineer Group usually serves.


2012

May 18

CSA Engineering and Oberon microsystems announce the Mountaineer Platform

Solothurn, Switzerland. CSA Engineering and Oberon microsystems announce the Mountaineer Platform, a new open source hardware platform that leverages their NETMF for STM32 (F4 Edition) open source software.

The goal for the Mountaineer Platform is to simplify the rapid prototyping of devices on the one hand, and the later optimization of a successful design on the other hand.

Modularity is the key to this goal. To enable a high degree of modularity, of both hardware and software, the .NET Gadgeteer specification was implemented. Gadgeteer is a royalty-free Microsoft specification for building prototype devices, out of a growing toolbox of compatible mainboards and modules from several vendors:

  • Creating Gadgeteer applications can be done quickly in a plug & play manner, requiring neither soldering nor low-level systems programming. Prototypes can be taken apart and reassembled again in different configurations.
  • At the hardware level, a Gadgeteer module consists of a board that uses small 10-pin connectors for digital and analog I/O, and also for serial links like UARTs, I2C and SPI.
  • At the software level, a Gadgeteer module consists of a .NET driver DLL that makes the module's functionality accessible to .NET application programs running on the mainboard's microcontroller.
  • Applications are written in C#, using Visual Studio for cross-development. Visual Studio includes a high-level debugger that supports the symbolic cross-debugging of devices. A Gadgeteer-specific plug-in can be used for designing a device model visually. It generates necessary project artifacts automatically from this model.

The first hardware designs of the Mountaineer Platform are Gadgeteer mainboards based on 168 MHz STM32F407 microcontrollers from STMicroelectronics:

  • The Mountaineer USB Mainboard is the smallest Gadgeteer mainboard so far. It is powered through USB and comes with several MB of onboard Flash for data logging and similar purposes. This makes it possible to build very small modular systems out of a minimal  number of boards.
  • The Mountaineer Ethernet Mainboard is similar to the USB mainboard, but additionally provides an Ethernet connector. This makes it possible to build modular "Internet of Things" devices out of a minimal number of boards, while leveraging the fast Ethernet hardware built into the STM32 microcontroller.

Prototypes of both mainboards have been running NETMF for STM32 since September 2011. First production boards are expected to become available in June 2012, with support for the Gadgeteer libraries. A "plain vanilla NETMF" SDK will also be made available, for developers who prefer to work purely at the .NET Micro Framework level.

Once the production boards are shipping, the design files for the two boards will be made available upon request, under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (Altium Designer required).

CSA Engineering and Oberon provide engineering services for turning a product idea into prototypes, for turning a prototype into an optimized, industrial-strength product, or both. If you are interested in developing a product based on the open source Mountaineer Platform, please contact either of the two companies. Depending on your needs you will receive an offer with the optimal combination of their strengths, and possibly of other specialists in their network, e.g., for user interaction design, mechanical design, CE certification, etc.

To simplify the evaluation of the Mountaineer Platform for existing and prospective customers of the Mountaineer Group, the boards will be made available from a dedicated Web shop in June. Students and makers are welcome as well!


2012

May 11

Oberon microsystems and CSA Engineering announce NETMF for STM32 (F4 Edition)

Zürich, Switzerland. Oberon microsystems and CSA Engineering announce the first public beta release of NETMF for STM32 (F4 Edition). This is the second generation of NETMF for STM32, a high-quality port of Microsoft's .NET Micro Framework. The F1 edition, which has been part of Microsoft's .NET Micro Framework Porting Kit since October 2011, is intended for the STM32F1 microcontrollers of STMicroelectronics. The new F4 edition supports the high-performance STM32F4 and STM32F2 microcontrollers.

 

The goal for this software is to provide a highly robust foundation for a growing range of mission-critical projects. "Managed code", as it is guaranteed by the C# language, the Visual Studio tools and the .NET Micro Framework runtime, allow to develop more robust embedded software faster. It can be an appropriate choice for 32-bit microcontrollers that have a minimum of 48 KB of RAM, and for non-real-time applications that have high connectivity requirements ("Internet of Things").

 

Managed code prevents common errors such as buffer overruns and dangling pointers; the garbage collector makes it easier to avoid memory leaks; the object-oriented nature of .NET makes it easier to maintain code for individual products or entire product lines; and the C# APIs for accessing hardware make it easier to write device drivers that remain independent of the specific microcontroller being used.

 

As the entire platform, including the parts of Microsoft, are published as open source under the Apache 2.0 license, the platform not only provides benefits over the short term during product development, but also a long-term investment protection.

 

GHI Electronics is the first partner to adopt the port to its devices, and has already started testing it. It will become available on all STM32-based offerings of GHI, i.e., FEZ Cerberus, FEZ Cerb40, FEZ Cerbuino Bee, and other products soon to be announced.

 

You can find the beta 1 release here. As part of the Mountaineer Group cooperation, CSA Engineering has contributed substantially to the software originally developed by Oberon microsystems. Our thanks go to the early testers Aron Phillips, Christan Schröder, Daniel Diez, Giovanni Dandrea, Gus Issa, Lorenzo Maiorfi, Simon Taylor, Stefan Krämer, Thomas Müller, and especially to Mark Munte, who tested very early versions of the software and contributed numerous corrections and improvements. Last but not least we would like to thank the team of STMicroelectronics in Grenoble and Tunis, for their very generous support.


2012

May 11

Oberon microsystems and CSA Engineering announce cooperation in the Mountaineer Group

Zürich and Solothurn, Switzerland. The Swiss-based companies Oberon microsystems, Inc. and CSA Engineering AG today announce their cooperation in The Mountaineer Group. The goal of this group is to provide comprehensive software and hardware engineering services, based on modern embedded open source software and hardware platforms. Customers should be enabled to turn ideas into prototypes rapidly, and from there into optimized, high-quality custom designs. Rapid product iteration is a key to quality, time-to-market, and risk management. It is especially relevant for high-wage countries like Switzerland, which have to create better products faster to remain competitive.