In the US a common home or business construction part is the 2X4, picture below, they aren’t really 2 inches (51 mm) by 4 inches(102 mm) wide, they are actually smaller, why? The wood is dried and then milled to 1.5 inches (38mm) by 3.5 inches (89 mm). When designing a simple product like say a shed for tools, you would start off by estimating the number of two by fours, then the siding you would be using, pylons, flooring if needed instead of ground, window(s), roof, roofing material, nails needed. Pretty standard stuff, and you would go to the store to purchase the wood, and so forth. Or order the material from a ‘jobber’ who would ‘kit’ the material and deliver it to the job site, for a fee of course, but still convenient. But with software, planning, etc. is more difficult.
When putting together a Windows 8.1 app with an embedded system that will connect to a system yet undefined in the cloud, you don’t get to drive to Fry’s (or similar electronic parts store) walk around and just buy parts. Ok, I might, but it could be waste of time and money. Fun, but a waste of two valuable things: Time and Money.
So I am embarking on a design process that is an exploration of embedded systems with Windows 8.1. My basic design element will be the Gadgeteer, although I will likely use one of the Gadgeteer components that houses an arduino chip in my design. I am using the Gadgeteer instead of the Arduino, not because I trust that it is going to be continued to be supported by the Gadgeteer community, anymore than I expect the Arduino community to remain loyal to it’s technology. That is always a bad bet long term, communities come and go, your livelihood has to continue as long as you remain in need of ready cash.
No rather the Gadgeteer travels much easier than the Arduino Uno, etc. I like the little pieces that the Arduino has me buy and I have to store, it is kind of fun to organize all of that. The Gadgeteer on the other hand is neat with it’s little cables and so forth. I have the Gadgeteer components and the cables. I don’t have small jumpers, loose LEDs and so forth, which are fine for a static workbench, but my workbench is far from static. This allows me to plan my demos with the Gadgeteer much easier. And even though I am able to use a Gadgeteer Arduino device to use the Gadgeteer hardware and cables, I can still have a nice cable count and be able to determine easily if I have left any parts behind! Which for me is important.
Here is a two by four (or a 51 by 102 in metric), and I have identified that this is not a component in my high level use cases: