Category Archives: .Net Micro Framework

Arduino vs. Netduino vs. Raspberry Pi vs. Beaglebone Black (Part 4)

BeagleBone Black

BeagleBone Black Board
BeagleBone Black

The BeagleBone Black (BBB) is based on a 1Ghz TI Sitara XAM3359AZCZ100 Cortex A8 ARM processor. Similar to the Raspberry Pi, the BeagleBone Black includes: HDMI output, Ethernet, and it runs a version of Linux. The default distribution is Angstrom Linux. You can find other BeagleBone Black compatible distributions here. The BBB excels at I/O it supports: 65 GPIOs, 3 I2C buses, a CAN bus, an SPI bus, 5 serial ports, 8 PWM outputs, and 7 analog inputs. The BBB also supports expansion boards, called “capes”.  However, Not all capes are compatible with the BeagleBone Black so be sure to check compatibility ( ). One unique feature of the BeagleBone Black is built in support for the Javascript node.js BoneScript library.

Advantages: Low cost, Linux based, ARM7, Performance, Large number of GPIOs

Disadvantages: Small community, Poorly supported default Linux distribution


The Arduino and the AVR microcontrollers are best for low cost, hard real time, low power, standalone applications, such as wearable electronics, driving LEDs, and simple control applications.

The Netduino and NETMF systems are best at networked complex soft real time control applications. The NETMF microcontrollers are particularly strong if you are interfacing to other Microsoft technologies, such as DWPS or WCF web services.

If your project is graphics intensive the Raspberry Pi is the clear winner. The RPi running Raspbian Linux also makes a great low end development platform.

The BeagleBone Black has the most capable hardware. If you are pushing the limits of performance or available I/Os the BBB could provide the extra capacity you need.



.Net Micro Framework

Raspberry Pi

Beaglebone Black


Arduino vs. Netduino vs. Raspberry Pi vs. Beaglebone Black (Part 2)


NetDuino Plus 2
NetDuino Plus 2

The Netduino ecosystem should more appropriately be called the .Net Micro Framework (NETMF) ecosystem. The .Net Micro Framework is an open source subset of the .Net Framework created by Microsoft. NetDuino boards have the same pin configuration as the Arduino Uno, and are compatible with a large number of Arduino shields. The NetDuino is manufactured by Secret Labs LLC based in NYC. Secret Labs also hosts an active support forum. The full range of NetDuino hardware can be found on the NetDuino website. Additional NETMF hardware is available from GHI Electronics, including the Cerbuino. The Cerbuino is also compatible with Arduino shields. Most NETMF boards use a member of the STMicro STM32 family, or another ARM Cortex-Mx MCU. Despite using more powerful hardware NetDuino and Cerbuino boards are cost competitive with AVR based Arduino boards.

The real strength of the NETMF ecosystem is the .NET framework, and the Visual Studio IDE. Visual C# is the preferred development language. Visual Basic is also supported but to a lesser extent. Microsoft Visual Studio Express is available as a free development environment from here. The .Net Micro Framework is a comprehensive well documented development environment. The base documentation is provided by Microsoft and can be found here. This is a real advantage, in many other microcontroller development ecosystems documentation is inconsistent and functionality fragmented across multiple libraries with varying levels of support. NETMF contains support for advanced features not usually found in the base versions of other microcontroller ecosystems, such as: http servers, http clients, file access, XML, GUIs, firmware updates, communication protocols, etc.

Advantages: Multithreading support, Full debugging support, .Net API, Visual Studio IDE

Disadvantages: No default hard real-time support, large performance overhead due to interpreted code, large memory footprint, small community