ZX Spectrum IoT Fun

I started programming when I was 5. The ZX Spectrum started it all, back in the 80s. I recently started collecting ZX Spectrums. I’m also busy with IoT projects on Azure. Anything can really use Azure IoT Hubs, so how better to illustrate this than combine my two passions. ūüôā

Azure and the Internet of Things at GXUGSA

Always fun to fly to Johannesburg and speak at GXUGSA.    I hope it was useful.

I’ve made all content available.


Event:  https://www.meetup.com/Gauteng-Xamarin-User-Group/events/241783761/


Presentation:   https://github.com/apead/XUGSA/tree/master/12092017


Android Things Weatherstation (Android Studio):   https://github.com/androidthings/weatherstation


Android Things Weatherstation (Xamarin):   https://github.com/apead/Xamarin-AndroidThings-Contrib


MX Chip kit Twitter Shake-Shake:  https://microsoft.github.io/azure-iot-developer-kit/docs/projects/shake-shake/


MX Chip orders available from DFRobot:  https://www.dfrobot.com/product-1616.html


This session featured


Azure Functions

Azure Iot Hub

Azure Stream Analytics

Azure Machine Learning

Power BI

Android Things

MX Chip Azure Iot Kit

And other Iot platforms and devices (Arduino, Netduino, Raspberry Pi, Windows 10 Iot, Xamarin Iot)


MXChip Iot Kit



Happy Cross Platform IoT’ing


Azure Cape Town – Azure and the Internet of Things

Last night was a fun evening of Azure Iot at the Azure Cape Town user group.   Thanks to all for coming, I hope it was useful.   The turnout was awesome!


I’ve made all content available.


Presentation:   https://github.com/apead/XUGSA/tree/master/12092017


Android Things Weatherstation (Android Studio):   https://github.com/androidthings/weatherstation


Android Things Weatherstation (Xamarin):   https://github.com/apead/Xamarin-AndroidThings-Contrib


MX Chip kit Twitter Shake-Shake:  https://microsoft.github.io/azure-iot-developer-kit/docs/projects/shake-shake/


This session featured


Azure Functions

Azure Iot Hub

Azure Stream Analytics

Azure Machine Learning

Android Things

MX Chip Azure Iot Kit

And other Iot platforms and devices (Arduino, Netduino, Raspberry Pi, Windows 10 Iot, Xamarin Iot)



More Devices!




Happy Iot’ing!

Lego Mindstorm EV3 with Xamarin Iot

There’s a lot of fun to be had here! ¬† Xamarin Iot deploying to a Lego Mindstorm EV3 from Visual Studio, isn’t that awesome?


Visual Studio 2017 Preview 5 – Xamarin Iot EV3


LCD Update via Xamarin Iot


I’m now off to make it do something more useful. ¬†I will write a full blog post about it afterwards, including instructions how to set this up yourself.

Have a great day!

Visual Studio: The one IDE to rule them all

This week there was some great news about .NET MF and the return of the Netduino!(http://blog.wildernesslabs.co/netduino-is-back/)


I was inspired enough to dust off one of my older projects which included .NET MF and the Xamarin Monkey Robotics project. I then decided to consolidate and rearrange it with some of the newer stuff I’m playing with in the “Iot” space. ¬† ¬†It’s also an example of how Visual Studio can handle projects of all types, held together and fully “debuggable” within one solution. ¬† ¬† This seems like a good time to do this especially with the recent talks at the Xamarin User Groups in Cape Town (http://explorationspace.co.za/2017/07/20/cross-platform-iot-at-ctxug/) ¬†and Johannesburg (http://explorationspace.co.za/2017/07/12/cross-platform-iot-at-gxugsa/) on the topic.



Visual Studio Controller of Things Solution


I do still have to port all this to Visual Studio 15.3 preview 3 so I can have Xamarin Iot working in the solution as well.


Still a lot of on the list to do today, so I’ll end off here.


Happy Iot’ing!

Cross Platform Iot at GXUGSA

Last night was the Cross Iot Session at GXUGSA in Johannesburg. ¬† ¬†It’s always fun presenting all the Iot toys, but also what can actually be done with Xamarin and the rest of the Microsoft tooling.


It’s also not always clear that you can basically do anything you want with Xamarin, so always nice and exciting to showcase it outside the usual phone type scenarios.



Gert Talking Windows 10 Iot Core



The session featured


Visual Micro for Visual Studio

Visual Studio Code with Arduino Extension which is now Open Source.

Xamarin Forms and Xamarin.Android with Android Things 0.4 Preview

The new Xamarin Iot preview for Linux based devices

Windows 10 Iot Core

Azure Iot Hubs


Devices wise 


Raspberry Pi 2 + 3

Intel Edison

Raspberry Pi Zero W

Latte Panda and Arduino Leonardo

MXChip Azure Kit

Devices Devices Everywhere

The presentation can be found here:   https://github.com/apead/XUGSA/tree/master/11072017


Android Things Weather Station Sample with Azure Iot Hubs:    https://github.com/apead/Xamarin-AndroidThings-Contrib

Cross Platform Generic Xamarin Forms sample that ran on Phone, Android Things and Windows 10 Iot:   https://github.com/apead/XUGSABuildAutomation


Xamarin Android Things Nuget:  https://www.nuget.org/packages/Xamarin.Android.Things/0.4.0-devpreview


Xamarin Android Things Contrib Drivers:  https://www.nuget.org/packages/Xamarin.AndroidThings.Contrib.RainbowHat/0.40.0-beta


Getting Started with Xamarin Iot:   http://explorationspace.co.za/2017/06/21/xamarin-iot-comes-to-visual-studio-2017-on-windows/


MXChip Azure Kit:   https://microsoft.github.io/azure-iot-developer-kit/


Android Things Starter Kit with Rainbow Hat:   https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/rainbow-hat-for-android-things


Rainbow HAT


Behind the Scenes Fun ūüôā

Android Things Contrib Drivers for Xamarin Sample Added

Last week I pushed the Xamarin version of the Google Contrib drivers to Nuget. ¬† ¬†I’ve now added a sample project, to illustrate how it all works. ¬† ¬†The sample also includes the use of Azure Iot Hubs.


The sample and the Xamarin components for Android Things Contrib can be found here:  https://github.com/apead/Xamarin-AndroidThings-Contrib


The Google Contrib drivers provides for the following components:


  • Sparkfun ADC Block for Intel Edison –¬†adcv2x
  • Apa102 RGB LED strip
  • Bmx280 temperature and pressure sensor
  • Push button over GPIO
  • Cap12xx capacitive touch buttons
  • GPS
  • Ht16k33 7-digit alphanumeric segment
  • Mma7660fc accelerometer sensor
  • PWM speaker/buzzer
  • Metadriver for the Rainbow HAT
  • Metadriver for the Sense HAT
  • Ssd1306 OLED display
  • Tm1637 4-digit numeric segment display


You can find more details on each can be found within the Android Things Github repo:  https://github.com/androidthings/contrib-drivers


A great test of the contrib drivers is Pimoroni’s Rainbow Hat. ¬†¬†https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/rainbow-hat-for-android-things¬† ¬†The Rainbow HAT brings together a lot of the components mentioned above on one board. ¬† It’s provided with the Android Things Starter Kit so it’s a very good place to start. ¬† ¬† ¬† The first sample I’ve added here focus’s on this specific HAT.


I’ve added a Nuget package which contains the entire contrib library. ¬† ¬†The nuget is built on version 0.4 preview of Android Things ¬†It can be found on nuget.org: ¬†¬†https://www.nuget.org/packages/Xamarin.AndroidThings.Contrib.RainbowHat/0.40.0-beta¬†¬†¬†Something to note, it’s still a pre-release nuget package.


The sample added is based on the google Weather Station sample.  It has one difference, it uses Azure Iot Hubs for cloud messaging.


Sample Functionality

  • Temperature Monitoring
  • Pressure Monitoring
  • Push Button (A) to swap display from Temperature and Pressure on the board display
  • Native UI for RaspberryPi to display weather based on air pressure
  • Telemetry sent from Android Things Device to ¬†Azure via Azure Iot Hubs
  • Message support from Azure to Android Things Device.


To uses the Iot hub in the sample, the DeviceId, DeviceKey and HostName of an Azure Iot hub will need to be provided.    I will do a post specific on Iot Hubs to provide more detail on this in subsequent blog posts.    These variables are set in the MainActivity.


 private bool _useHubs = true;   //  Set this to true to use Azure Iot Hubs

 _weatherDevice.DeviceId = "<Add Azure Iot Hub Device Id Here>";
 _weatherDevice.DeviceKey = "<Add Azure Iot Hub Device Key Here>";
 _weatherDevice.HostName = "<Add Azure Iot Hub Hostname Here>";


Weather Station


The sample ¬†uses Xamarin’s own 0.4 Preview nuget for Android Things: ¬†¬†https://www.nuget.org/packages/Xamarin.Android.Things/0.4.0-devpreview


I’m in the process of creating more samples of the rest of the contrib library. ¬† ¬†I’m also packaging more third-party drivers from around the community into reusable Nuget packages for Android Things with Xamarin.


I’m also having a lot of fun at the moment with a version of these drivers, built from scratch to work with Xamarin Iot. ¬†We can then have these components (and Rainbow HAT) working on Linux devices which will of course be awesome!


Happy Iot’ing with Xamarin!


Xamarin Iot comes to Visual Studio 2017 on Windows

I recently had a quick look at Xamarin Iot.  The post can be found here: http://explorationspace.co.za/2017/06/07/first-look-at-xamarin-iot/.


That was using Xamarin Iot on Visual Studio for the Mac (Preview).     Xamarin Iot is also however available for Visual Studio 2017 on Windows (Preview 2.1) too.  Below is the identical solution just running from Visual Studio 2017 on Windows.    Have a look!


Visual Studio Iot Project Template



New Xamarin Iot Agent




Visual Studio in Action


Xamarin Iot on Raspberry Pi Zero


This is just a quick look at Xamarin Iot running on a Raspberry Pi Zero, this time on Visual Studio on Windows.   More in-depth content coming soon!


Happy Iot’ing!

First Look at Xamarin IOT

This is a first look at the new Xamarin Iot functionality found within Visual Studio for Mac 7.1 Preview. ¬† I will dig much further into detail in future posts, but lets have a very quick look and it. ¬† ¬†I’m really excited about this addition to the already awesome Xamarin tooling!


New Iot Project Type


A new project type has been added for Iot.    This project type or template will create the solution and project needed to run on the Iot device.


Manage devices option


What’s immediately apparent is the new run option for the Iot project type. ¬† There’s now a new item called “Manage Devices”


Iot device manager


The Iot Device Manager allows all the connected devices to be managed. ¬† This setup is very similar to the Mac Agent used for iOS development with the Xamarin Visual Studio for Windows extension, however it¬†will display all the Linux based devices running on the network. ¬†In this case and screenshot it’s a Raspberry Pi Zero running Raspian (Jesse). ¬† Configuring the device will allow remote deploys to the device from your Mac. ¬† ¬†This will require a user name and password of a user on the Raspberry Pi. ¬†This user will be used to connect to the Raspberry pi via SSH. ¬† ¬†Also note, SSH needs to be enabled on the Raspberry Pi for this to work.


Executing remotely on device


Now you can start developing your Iot solution. ¬† What’s really awesome is, all the things you expect to work will just work.¬†This¬†includes break points and a full debugging experience. ¬† ¬† All this can happen wirelessly to a “headless” device.


The build and execution process is very similar to the Mac Agent when you do iOS development from Windows (Visual Studio) to a Mac. ¬†The difference in this case, it is from a Mac (Visual Studio) to a Linux instance (Raspberry Pi). ¬† On the very first execution, the mono run time will be copied over to the device. ¬†This will be used to execute the built app. ¬† ¬†The application itself and it’s “built code” is also synchronized with the Raspberry Pi. ¬† ¬†This compiled Iot app is then in turn executed on the device remotely.


Lets see it in action! ¬† ¬†Here is a simple example of the now standard Iot demo of a flashing LED, but running on a tiny Raspberry Pi Zero W. ¬† ¬†What’s really nice about this implementation is, it runs on devices that is not supported by other Iot platforms, like Android Things and Windows 10 Iot Core. ¬† It will run on the myriad of Linux based devices out there.



There is much more to show and tell. ¬†So there’s much more blogs to come on this topic! ¬† This will also include how Android Things and Xamarin Iot can work together to make cross platform Iot simpler.


But for now: ¬†Happy Xamarin Iot’ing! ūüôā


Using Xamarin and Visual Studio with Android Things

Android Things is Google’s new IOT Android based¬†platform.¬†¬†¬† In essence it’s a slightly altered version of Android which can run on Iot type devices such as the Intel Edison and the Raspberry Pi3.


“Android Things lets you build professional, mass-market products on a trusted platform, without previous knowledge of embedded system design.”


Personally I’m not yet too impressed with Android Things.¬†¬† It is¬†still very new and very raw and is lacking a lot of what you’d expect from an Iot platform.¬†¬† However, having finally a standard Android implementation officially from Google running on these devices¬†has to be a good thing.¬†¬†¬† The platform should just get better from here.




Running in Visual Studio using Xamarin


Of course being Android, Android Things works¬†with Xamarin too.¬†¬†¬†¬† Using Xamarin will also be a benefit for all those awesome cross platform benefits it offers, like sharing your Iot code with your backend services, Android, Ios, Windows Phone, Windows 10, OSX, XBox¬†and whatever other devices you’d like to be supporting¬†in your solution.


Getting the devices to appear in Visual Studio is exactly as you’d expect.¬†¬†¬† The devices will use the standard Android Debugging Bridge (ADB).¬†¬† ¬†¬† Plugging in an Intel Edison via USB will be reflected as “Unknown Iot_Edison”.¬†¬†¬† You can obviously also use the network debugging features of ADB.¬†¬† eg.¬†¬† adb connect <ip address>¬†¬†¬†The device will then also be¬†detected in Visual Studio.¬†¬† A Raspberry Pi will appear as “Unknown¬†iot_rpi3”.


Using Xamarin is very simple.¬†¬†¬† All we need to do is bind to the Android Things API Jar to be able to make use of all the features provided by the Android Things SDK.¬†¬† At this moment in time there isn’t an official release Nuget package from Xamarin to do this.¬†¬† It is however very simple to do this yourself.¬†¬†¬†¬† In this sample (and I’ve shared the code on GitHub) I’m binding to the new Dev Preview 2 API for Android Things (androidthings-0.2-devpreview.jar).¬†¬†¬† Once the binding project¬†is referenced from your Android Things project, everything will work as expected.¬†¬† Just of course with the benefit of using C# and not Java!


I’ve created some samples based on the Standard Android Things Samples


Samples:   https://github.com/apead/Xamarin-Android-Things

Blink Led

No Iot sample and demo is complete without a blinking LED.   This sample is a conversion of the Android Things sample.



Simple UI

This sample is a simple illustration of using a UI on an Android Things device.   It also illustrates GPIO pins and how to set the high/low values of the pins.


Simple UI Android Things Sample




Learning Resources:


SDK Samples:  https://developer.android.com/things/sdk/samples.html

How to install Android Things on your Device:   https://developer.android.com/things/preview/index.html

A great article on the basics of electronics and hardware:  https://riggaroo.co.za/android-things-hardware-basics/


Happy Android Things Development with Xamarin!