Have you any example alpha/beta designs you can share ? You might get some feedback here which will help you narrow your offerings.
The only real breakout board I have at the moment is actually what kicked off this thread (the start of the video shows the board layout). It's just the module, with an (optional) voltage regulator if you're going above 3.6v input - then the end of it shares the same pinout as the FTDI cable if you want to program it serially rather than via bluetooth.
Some simple layouts might be:
- Arduino footprint
- Arduino Atmega328p footprint
- Pi Zero W footprint (there are quite a few 'hat's out there now)
- Plant moisture sensor
- BME680/etc sensor board
- LCD/ePaper display - although some of those are (IMO) too difficult for most people to hand solder so I'd have to be careful
- Adafruit Feather footprint
- Adafruit Trinket
- micro:bit clone
But obviously there's a balance between offering stuff people are interested in, and actually getting something out there ASAP :)
- Arduino footprint
@Gordon Have you seen this ESP-WROOM-32 (ESP32) programming board with spring contacts? I know the nRF52-based MDBT42Q is smaller, but I'm wondering if something similar could be made from one of these boards. I've found this one very easy to work with.
(If you Google Image Search "ESP-WROOM-32 fixture" you'll see some better images. The ESP-WROOM-32 just clicks into place and stays there until you snap it out)
Looking at mine, I think you might be able to hack the contacts off one of these and onto your own board, with a Dremel, a tiny iron, some tweezers and a lot of patience.
Edit: or, come to think of it, if you don't need the short-edge contacts, you could probably just saw out the two rows of side contacts and move them closer together!
@tom.gidden that's a thought - I hadn't seen things like that before - they're using a slot in the PCB itself as a guide aren't they? Looks neat - I think the pin spacing is different as well, but with a bit of careful cutting I might be able to get it to fit as you say!
Yeah. The springy pin goes through a slot, then loops back and goes through-hole to solder on the other side. The kink in the pin just before it goes through the slot keeps the ESP32 board itself pulled against the base-board. It's 0.05" pitch as far as I can see, but obv. a different number of pins.
It's silk-screened to hell and back, so I can't see what the connections to the other gubbins on the board are, but some Stanley-knifing with extreme prejudice should work. Anyway, it wasn't expensive. I seem to remember mine came over on the slow boat from Shenzen, though.
Thanks! Looks like a neat idea. The MDBT42s are ~0.7mm spacing compared to that 1.27mm spacing though, so it could be a bit painful to make it work. It wouldn't be so difficult since only 4 pins are needed, but the two SWD pins are right next to each other!
The current method I have does work fine though, and with minor tinkering (adjusting the angle of the two Pogo pins) would be really easy to use - so there isn't a huge rush to get something better.
Also, it looks like if I place an order for 100 or more modules I can get Raytac to program them, which realistically is going to end up being quite a bit cheaper. It's really just making sure I'm not stuck with a bunch of modules with out of date firmware - but I'd have thought finding 50 people to buy 2 or more modules wouldn't be too difficult.
Great news for small order size, I'd imagine these forums alone will get you well past 100 units. I vote for the small pcb as per the thread :-).
I just red about a new ESP32 the ESP Pico D4 which is a SIP and apparently simplify the process of making custom boards and reduce the amount of components needed. I dont know a lot about that topic just wanted to throw this option in the mix.
There doesn't seem to be complete information about it out yet; it isn't clear that it has any integration beyond what was available with the WROOM32 modules everyone's been using. The one picture I could find of it showed a similar module.
There is also Renesas R78/G1D with low power consumption (4.3mA in TX mode) but I don't like their dev setup (manuals on CDs, hard to find info, ... )
@PaddeK @tbd are you guys actually on Patreon? I don't seem to have your emails listed.
The issue with switching to different chips is really software support. ST have done some work on the STM32L4 chips so it might not be too bad, but it's still another codebase I have to support. I'm also not sure people are really after significantly better power consumption that something like the Pico gives? It's definitely not something I've heard anyone (apart from you just now) complain about?
Also, the price is quite a big deal - they'll probably cost me around double what the nRF52 does once you take the crystal into account - and for that I also get Bluetooth.
The Renesas doesn't seem to have much RAM? It looks like the existing nRF52 compares pretty well really (5.3 mA in TX), and I'm sure the nRF52840 will be better - it doesn't seem worth all the effort porting to a completely new platform just for 20% better consumption.
@Gordon not yet on Patreon ;)
I was testing Renesas vs Nordic for a low power project and Nordic win (they are responsive, better docs, first time experience better, ...) I am waiting for my Thingy order to play with mic/speaker combo and implement https://medium.com/planimal-interactive/custom-wireless-interactive-objects-4be6ba9a03fc for my kids ;)
based on https://pd.zhaw.ch/publikation/upload/210180.pdf there is not a big difference to worth porting to a different platform
Interesting about your first experience - I've found Nordic (especially their dev zone) to be pretty good - at least compared to ST! I haven't tried Renesas though :)
Also Nordic themselves seem quite interested/helpful when it comes to Espruino, which is always a bonus!
The docs aren't great though I admit...
nothing compares with PuckJS first experience – nice clean package, 10 seconds to working examples, no need to install stuff to have a blinking LED, lots of cool tutorials.
easy to plug sensor add-ons would be a big plus IMHO
@Gordon no i am not on patreon. I was under the impression this topic is a place to chime in with ideas. I was in no way complaining about power consumption of the current boards, but in my opinion hardwarewise there are just two directions to go.. more power (ram/cpu etc.) or less power consumption. The nordic nrf52840 promises both and if i am not mistaken will be easy to support. So as far as pro and cons lists go this should be a winner.
I will avoid this topic/subforum in the future. Sorry for the intrusion.
Hi, sorry... this should really be a more general thread, but the original question was from a Patreon supporter and it just grew from there. Given the lack of use I'm wondering if I shouldn't remove the Patreon section - it was just something that was easy to offer, but it's not very inclusive!
I'll try and post in the main forum when I have something a bit more concrete to offer.
I agree on the directions though - however it's been a surprise how much more popular the WiFi and Puck.js boards have been, so I think connectivity is quite an important aspect as well.
imagine adding WiFi to Puck.js :mindblown:
after playing with Nordic Thingy I still go back to my Puck.js – the form factor, the cute silicone case, easy to program makes all the difference.
my dream Espruino device would have:
- Puck.js form factor
- 9 axis motion sensor (eg Bosch BNO055) – for 3D movement projects. also a deep sleep wakeup vector
- expansion board / pins for https://www.adafruit.com/feather like modules
- temp/humidity/air pressure/... (eg Bosch BME280) – like Ruuvitag ;)
- 320 x 240 LCD (my nostalgic resolution)
- Puck.js form factor
:) we'll see how things go - I have been talking with some folks at Nordic so it's possible the Thingy will get proper Espruino support - which would tick off some of your requests.
After the success of the Nodeconf.eu badge I'm also looking at making an LCD Espruino using a 128x64 black and white LCD. It's not quite your 320x240, but it's miles more power efficient. As it's bigger there should be enough space for it to have some standard module format too.
You can actually shove WiFi on a Puck.js right now (or GSM), but the wiring is a bit of a faff :)
Has anyone come across a common pinout for small boards? It might be more sensible to use that for the BLE board than to use the current one that's about the same as the WiFi/Pico (but inbetween width-wise). The feather seems a bit big (and is Adafruit-specific). What about Arduino Nano or something like that?
it is hard to find a common pinout that works on multiple platforms,
so a separate expansion board would help with different boards
I like the pads with a hole so you can attach a clip or a breadboard pin:
@Gordon what about https://www.mikroe.com/mikrobus/ ?
- open standard, 3.3 & 5V pins, I2C, UART, PWM and SPI
- existing Raspberry expansion board (https://shop.mikroe.com/pi-3-click-shield)
- several "clicks" (sensors, GSM, buttons, displays, lighting detector 😮, ...)
- open standard, 3.3 & 5V pins, I2C, UART, PWM and SPI
I'm a bit iffy about going for something where shields are only available from one particular manufacturer - same for things like the Adafruit Feather really.
Stuff like Arduino, Arduino Nano or Raspberry Pi have loads of breakout boards from lots of different manufacturers (often at very low prices) so I think would be preferable. There must be others though?
My heart says Puck.js++ (circular pcb) but my brain says go rectangular. In that domain i would like to see something like Teensy 3.2. Lots of addons and shields, ie on Tindie.
also a Puck.js Lite would be nice – Espruino on a nRF52810, small factor, some pins for sensors in $5 range
Any thoughts on a sensible preorder platform? KickStarter's still kind of a pain, especially if I want to offer different PCB types alongside (eg. 0.1" breakout, buttons, plant moisture).
Someone suggested Massdrop - but the fact that it makes everyone sign up before even browsing makes it very likely a good 50% of people won't bother with it.
I guess I could just try doing something myself? I've wanted to add a shopping basket to espruino.com for a while anyway as I'm giving 10% of every sale to Tindie at the moment.