The .NET Micro Framework (.NET MF) is an open
source (Apache licensed) version of the .NET Framework designed to
work on microcontrollers. Since it is OSS, you can port it using
the porting kit (link at the bottom) to any processor you want, if
you have the know-how.
Luckily, there exist a number of boards with the .NET MF already
ported, with the addition of a number of features and drivers for
board-specific functionality. Each of the boards vary in the number
of I/O, peripherals, MCU speed, memory etc. Some even include
built-in displays. You don't need to know much about electronics to
get some really good results from these boards.
You can code for the .NET MF using Visual Studio (VS 2010 for
the 4.1 version, 2008 for prior versions). You can also use Visual
C# Express and do it all for free. Pretty nice!
I myself have been playing with a few of the boards, especially
Other folks have created some really cool projects. Due to the
nature of these projects, you tend to find them more on YouTube
than on blogs. Here are 10 that really stand out to me.
running on a Tahoe board with a built-in display
2. Etch a Sketch
3. Home Thermometer
the temperature using sensors and the .NET MF
4. WiFi 802.11 wireless Networking and IP Camera
project with an IP camera and a few boards
5. Netduino Web Server
light web server using the Netduino. There are a bunch of these out
6. ChipworkX RPL Video Playback
7. .NET Micro Framework Game
little video game using a built-in display
8. Tank-track Robot
9. Stepper Motor Midi Player (this is awesome)
great. Automating a stepper motor so it plays music
10. Aquarium Controller
aquarium monitor and motor
Lots more Micro framework videos here.
Porting the .NET Micro Framework to other Devices
If you want to get started at a pretty low cost, I recommend
either the Netduino or the FEZ Panda. Both are under $50, very
capable, well-supported and readily available.