The Meadow F7 Micro by Wilderness Labs is a full-stack .NET IoT platform that was successfully funded on Kickstarter earlier this year. The Oregon-based company designed the board to be a modern plug-and-play platform to get users quickly started in developing IoT solutions. What makes the platform unique is it uses .NET, and C# to develop applications. In addition, in includes a driver and hardware API library, which allow users to quickly get up and running with hardware and spend more time focusing on developing the application. Since the .NET standard is supported, hundreds of NuGet packages and plugins are available. Consequently, users can access cloud services and even get started with artificial intelligence (AI) services such as machine learning, image processing, and video processing.
Wilderness Labs built the board around the STMicroelectronics STM32F7 MCU. It features an ESP32 onboard as a co-processor, which gives the board Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability. An integrated antenna is included onboard, while an antenna connector allows for application-specific antenna additions. The board houses 32MB of flash and 16MB of RAM for running large programs. Furthermore, the form factor works seamlessly with Adafruit’s Feather ecosystem. As a result, users can take advantage of the many Adafruit Feather expansion boards (“wings”), which include GPS modules, memory loggers, and UHF transceivers.
The F7 is the centerpiece of Wilderness Lab’s new Meadow Hack Kit Pro, which offers a great solution for getting started with embedded electronics and IoT projects. The kit comes in a compartmentalized plastic case, which helps organize the array of components that come with it. Opening the kit, the user will get a breath of freshly charred wood smell from the laser-cut Winderness Labs mounting board. But buyers can also find multiple sensors, displays, components such as transistors and diodes, breadboards, and most importantly, the Meadow F7 Micro board. A glance at the picture below can offer an idea of the wide variety of electronics components that comes in a kit. It’s always super sweat to have every component you need right out of the box.
The kit includes two half-size breadboards as well as a laser-etched board, which is designed to hold the development platform alongside a breadboard. Also inside: various jumper wires with female and male headers; LEDs and LED bar graphs; ICs (shift registers, IO expanders, and an H-bridge motor controller); a servo; two-channel relay; distance sensor; moisture sensor; 4×20 LCD; ST7789 color LCD. Additional items include a resistor kit, capacitor kit, rotary encoders, two DC motors, USB breakout, 9V battery adapter, SPDT switches, and a piezo speaker. And even more: four different types of transistors (bipolar 2N3904 NPNs and 2N3906 PNPs as well as BS170 N-channel MOSFETs and TIP120 power transistors), along with smaller parts including three different diodes, photodiode and photoresistor, pushbuttons, LM35DZ analog temp sensor, and Temt6000 luminosity sensor.
Multiple documents are available for the kit and development platform that outline installing the necessary software and environments needed to get up and running. Additionally, a getting started guide is available and multiple tutorials that span multiple projects using a wide variety of the components included in the kit. All of which are super easy to get running.
You will want to start at their HackKit getting started page. There you’ll want to open a second table and go through the “get up and running with Meadow” short tutorial. The hardest thing is assembling the board itself. Soldering the connectors on might present an issue. I used a flat surface to solder the pins on, flipping the board upside down. Be gentle; you don’t want the connector on crooked. Follow the rest of the guide to set up the simple “Hello, Meadow.” After that, return to the getting started page. That’s where the fun begins.
Examples of the available tutorials include the Hello World with an LED, rotary control of lights and servos, and working with displays, to name a few. What’s cool is each example project has its own page with project story, parts list, schematics and code. Essentially the guides will step-by-step hand-hold you all the way to the end. This is important in kits like this. One wrong placement of a single wire will deep-six the whole build.
This is always my main issue with breadboard-based projects. Like everyone will experience, I had a few wires out of place for some of the projects. Always — ALWAYS know that it’s just one wire out of place. Go through each one; don’t speed through the check. Each wire is important. Some of the example projects have lots of wires, so lots of chances to make a slight error. The LEDBar, EdgeASketch, Simone and Electronic Dice projects are ones you’re likely to troubleshoot. Some of the wires on the breadboards were almost hypnotic looking to me. Wire misplacements will be a bigger issue when it comes to using a breadboard for a custom Meadow project. But, first things first — do the example projects.
Overall, the kit offers everything needed and more to dive into the world of IoT and embedded electronics projects. The Meadow Hack Kit Pro is available for $150, and a standalone Meadow F7 Micro is available for $50.
|Meadow F7 Micro||Wilderness Lab|
|Software:||Meadow.OS. Runs applications written in the .NET developer framework|
|Main Processor:||32-bit STM32F7 MCU w/ESP32 Co-processor|
|Memory:||32MB RAM, 32MB Flash|
|I/O Pins (Digital):||19|
|I/O Pins (Analog):||6 (+2)|