Next espruino board ideas

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  • Hi,
    I was looking at my parts bin and found two components: an audio jack and a usb port. That got me thinking wow i wish the espruino had a usb host port and an audio jack. It would be awesome! You would be able to play sound files off the micro sd with the DAC and also connect devices like usb sticks. What do you think? I also took some concept pictures.
    (don't worry this is a bricked espruino it doesnt work anyway)

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  • Thanks for the suggestion! USB host is something that's probably a bit too difficult - while the F4-based Espruino boards are capable of it (but not at the same time as 'normal' USB), there's quite a lot of software work needed to make it work properly.

    If someone were willing to do that software work, with Espruino WiFi you could just get one of those 'USB host' adaptors and plug it in, and electrically I think all the hardware would 'just work'.

    Does the audio jack actually fit in the holes around there on the back of the board? Those holes are just for the prototype area so you could probably wire it in pretty easily - as you say, for some tasks being able to get audio out easily would be really cool.

    I wonder how many people would use it, but we could potentially come up with a 'shim' design for the Pico ( that had the SD card, battery charger, and an audio jack on it?

  • Yes, the audio jack fits in the prototype area(although I also stole the gnd bat and 3.3v holes)!
    It's good to hear the audio jack might be possible.

    I know my suggestions might not be featured, but will there be additional boards coming out(or upgrades of original ones)?

  • Oh, I think a grove connector will be very handy. I don't think it will be difficult to implement, either.

  • I did actually have a design for one of those Shims that included a Grove connector (I've got a bunch here that I got made) but I had some really weird issues with I2C on it - so most things would work, except the I2C display - and I never managed to figure out why.

    I do have plans for another board - most likely a Bluetooth LE board about the same size as the Pico. It'll be a few months off though - probably the most sensible way to get it made in high enough volumes is to do a KickStarter again, but we're expecting a baby in a few months' time and my wife would be very unimpressed if I was trying to sort out a KickStarter with a new child :)

    I think things like the headphone jack wouldn't be popular enough to stick on the board itself, but I think a 'breakout' board could be a good idea.

    • Fits Pico, WiFi, and maybe the new board too
    • Has a LiPo battery charger and socket on it
    • micro SD card
    • Seeed Grove connector(s)
    • Headphone jack
    • High power outputs?

    If it were an 'assemble yourself' job then it'd be nice and easy for me to do, but I think the surface mount parts would make it difficult for most people - which means I'd need to make several hundred boards up.

  • Your plans for the new board is really cool, I guarantee it will be very successful!
    Congrats on your baby also, keep up the awesome work!

  • Something like the onion power dock?

    Just let me know when you are ready to do something.

  • Yes, that's the plan... getting a Pico(or Wifi) form factor Bluetooth LE board is next on my list at the moment, but depending how things go I could try and launch that and the breakout board together.

    What does everyone think about also making it Arduino footprint? It'd mean you could plug in a bunch of shields, but would provide battery management, SD card, and some other things at the same time.

  • Not a fan of the arduino footprint. It's a trade-off between being compatible with loads of shields and otherwise being quite useless with the irregular spacing and not breadboardable. My current favorite form-factor is the adafruit feather, but I think they've already got an nrf52 board...

  • Same opinion... Arduino form-factor is not very convenient... Of course there is a lot of shield out there but as soon as you plug 1 or 2 shields, you just get a big cube of PCBs and that's it. A small form factor allows for an easy integration.
    The global trend right now seems to be IoT, wearables, smart things and so on. IMO the need for those trends is small battery powered connected devices. Puck.js is very well suited for wearables. However BLE is not yet suffciently established to allow people doing smart-home projects with BLE. Here comes the Espruino-Wifi.
    What about outdoor projects? Is there any possibility to follow the idea of the Particle Electron for the next Espruino board?

  • The Arduino spacing would just be for a breakout board (not a new microcontroller board) - so you'd still be able make compact things if you wanted. It's more to provide a way to connect things easily, and the more advanced users would just go direct.

    I'm not sure the demand is there for a GSM/LTE board at the moment - it starts to get expensive to keep a SIM card going. Particle Electron works (IMO) because they're providing a cheap SIM card as well - but there's no way I'm big enough to arrange something like that.

    Of course if a mobile operator themselves wanted a dev board that ran JavaScript then that could work out great - but there's nothing like that on the horizon at the moment. Realistically the GSM modules are so cheap now (like the A6) that it's going to be cheaper to just get your favourite Espruino board and wire it up to a module than to buy an 'all in one' from me.

    I guess one option is for me to start selling kits - eg. adaptor board + Espruino + GSM radio, and the same for LoRa and things like that...

  • GSM and LTE are getting cheaper and cheaper:­ologram-lte-software-defined-global-netw­ork-for-cellular-iot-projects-starts-at-­0-40-per-month-per-device/
    I prefer a smaller footprint than arduino. Why not Teensy? Or Adafruit Feather? Or something else with a lot of addon boards.

  • I've never seen any polls to my recollection on the forum here. That might be interesting -- though not definitive, for you. Put up a bunch of options that you think might be interesting and then you can always choose to just ignore the results anyways :P

    I for one would love to have the "espruino watch", on there as a voting option :P

  • I quite liked the idea of a Raspberry Pi Zero outline board - there are a huge amount of Pi shields, and it'd really add something (low power!) over the existing Pi. Of course there's also micro:bit form factor now as well.

    To be honest there are a huge variety of possible boards I'd like to do, but it's finding time - and also making sure I don't end up with loads of stock... I have to keep over 500 boards of each type in stock, usually more!

    I can't remember if there are polls, but there are on Patreon and I could do it there (afaik you don't have to be a supporter to vote). I'll have a look at that it seems there's a silent majority of people that often have different views to those that post :)

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Next espruino board ideas

Posted by Avatar for BootySnorkeler @BootySnorkeler