I got up this morning to a large bag of post – including a new battery for Maureen’s Samsung laptop (though why I mention that in the context of Christmas I don’t know as it is me that has to put it together!!). It’s our 31st anniversary today, incidentally!!
Anyway, there was a parcel for me from Bob Elmour. He’s been working with ESP8266 boards and like Aidan and myself, making his own boards up. We had a chat a while ago and he said he would send me some samples to play with and write-up.
WELL, I’m very excited – so this morning the package turned up and inside were these VERY professionally packaged and assembled boards as well as some spare parts etc. They are called IoTBear and you’ll be seeing them on EBay and elsewhere soon. I urge you to take a closer look.
These (at least this version) are brand spanking new. There are two boards here – firstly the little IoTBear board with in this case an ESP-12F board – but as you can see they’ll handle everything from ESP-07 upwards.
Essentially the boards have little more than an ESP-12 with a regulator, a reset/programming circuit (on one button, short press to reset, long press to program),, a connector for an FTDI at the end (exactly the same as we would do – why waste putting a USB chip on the board) – and all the pins brought out at convenience 0.1” centres. On the underside, the relevant pin names are printed and there is a cut-able link to disable the one-button programming.
The other board is similar but with a micro-USB connector for power – and a nice prototyping area – AND though not using the USB pins other than power, he’s brought them out onto 0.1” holes – now THAT’s handy for experimenting.
So this is not a slick commercial operation, just a private individual as far as I’m aware who like use started doing this stuff for fun – his website www.iotBear.com is not up yet but I’m putting it here for future reference. You will find Rob on EBay as user Majikthi5e and if you are interested in any of this stuff I suggest you contact him from there. I’ll not put his email address in here but he’s welcome to share it if he wants in the comments. It is my understanding that he plans make everything from bare boards upwards available. There is some stuff on EBay already.
I’ve a fair experience of the ESPs and issues with boards and the 3v3 regulator he has used is a good one and the SMT parts are a reasonable size for hand-soldering (with a fine bit – none of yer gas soldering irons please). The only thing that would worry me assembling myself is that micro-USB adaptor but then my eyes are getting old.
The prototyping are is GREAT for all sorts – sticking displays on, relays – all sorts. From what I gather the cost will be reasonable so you could have a bunch of these lying around.
As you might imagine, the very first thing I did was to get out the soldering iron, solder up the 6-way connectors for FTDI programming and program up the boards. I held the little button down and flashed my software into them – no problem first time. I’m looking forward to doing some prototyping with the larger one in the coming days.
OH and there’s a nice 4-sided documentation comes with these board, simple and well presented.
My only gripe so far is that the board is relying on DTR and RTS for programming without pressing a button. TWO issues with that. DTR is fastened straight to GPIO0 – and that leaves me to wonder, what if someone is using GPIO0 as an output – conflicts? Also – it is assuming two things – that you have control over RTS – and that RTS is available on your FTDI – and that leads to two things – firstly RTS is NOT available on all FTDIs and indeed many – on that matching 6 way connector, bring out CTS – which is an input – not an output. Indeed ALL the FTDIs that I’m aware out have CTS next to the ground pin. For these reasons – I think I’ll be experimenting with these boards using the programming button and GND/VCC/TX and TX only connected to the board.
Anyway, over to you – if you’re interested get in touch with Rob.