Getting started with a netduino mini

netduino mini

The netduino project that I’m working on is being developed on a regular netduino board for convenience but will be deployed on a netduino mini, which packs the same impressive amount of power in a package the size of a couple of dimes.

With such a different form factor and the fact that the netduino mini does not provide a USB interface, there’s more setup required before getting started with coding on Visual C#.

The specs schematics of the netduino mini give us all the details required to make the connections and the forums have a decent how-to but I wanted to make the process postcard-accessible and more visual.

Some parts will be required:

Part list

In my opinion, the ZIF socket is a must-have item because the pins on the netduino mini are fragile and are unlikely to survive being inserted and removed from a breadboard too many times.

Making the connections

  • Insert the ZIF socket into the breadboard, making sure that the first row of pins of the ZIF socket is aligned with the first row of pins, marked 1, on the breadboard.
  • Insert the netduino mini into the ZIF socket, making sure that the small notch in the board is pointing towards the lever of the ZIF socket.
  • Connect the red LED and the resistor to the breadboard’s power rails
  • Using the color-coding of the USB FTDI TTL-232 connector, connect the hookup wires to the breadboard according to this diagram:

FTDI pin out

netduino mini connections

  • The end result should somewhat look like this (don’t mind the blue LED):

netduino mini hooked up

At this point, you’re ready to communicate with the netduino mini.

Serial Communication Setup

  • Plug the USB FTDI TTL-232 cable into your computer. If you have never done it before, your OS will load the FTDI driver and will assign a COM port number to the device (the cable behaves as a USB device).
  • Make a note of the COM port number as you will need to reference it later.
  • The red LED should be lit up now. If not, make sure the LED / resistor are connected properly and that the GND and VCC leads coming from the FTDI cable are connected to the proper rails on the breadboard.
  • Open a serial connection to your board using a terminal software such as Putty, HyperTerminal, or Tera Term (my preference) with these protocol settings: 115200 bps, no parity, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no flow control.
  • Hit the ESC key.
  • You will see a prompt offering to let you select the deployment/debug port:

Netduino Mini

1. TTL UART (COM1)

2. RS232 UART (COM2)

Which transport (1 or 2)?

  • Hit 1 for TTL UART (COM1)
  • The netduino mini will reboot and will start sending debug data over the port at that point.

Update the firmware (optional)

Setting up Visual C# Studio 2010 for the netduino mini

  • When creating a new project, be sure to pick the netduino mini template option.
  • Be sure to configure your project properties for the Serial transport using the COM port number assigned to the FTDI cable.
  • That’s it! Everything else works the same as usual, including debugging.

Action shot

And of course, to make sure that everything works, one needs a blinking LED🙂

Happy hacking!

Edit: fixed link to Netduino Mini Beta forum with firmware 4.1.1 Beta 1

3 comments

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Getting started with a netduino mini « Fabien's Bit Bucket -- Topsy.com
  2. Brian Bender · February 13, 2012

    Thank you for this tutorial!

    “Head over to the netduino mini Beta forums and flash the board with the latest firmware.”

    Link is dead

    • Fabien Royer · February 13, 2012

      Thanks for letting me know about the broken link. It’s fixed now🙂

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