Espruino Board "clone" with attached protoboard

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  • As many of you know, I sell circuit boards on Tindie, and I very much like boards with integrated prototyping board. I recently had a project I planned to use with an Espruino Board, but I found that the Espruino Board on the previous version of the board had been beat up enough in terms of things being soldered straight onto the board (and back in those days, my technical skills weren't where they are now), and I realized it would be really nice to have a version where the prototyping area was larger, with mouting holes, and that sort of thing.

    This is the result:

    It's a direct ripoff of the Espruino Board, plus added protoboard (it matches the footprint of my other 2"x4" protoboard)- circuit is nearly identical - I made a couple of changes:

    • Different buttons.
    • SOT-223 regulator instead of that itty bitty one Gordon used (ZLDO1117 3.3v reg - ZLDO is the best series of 1117s, particularly in terms of quiescent current).
    • No bluetooth footprint.
    • C14 not broken out to a pin (I couldn't route it, and I use the crystal anyway)
    • ESP-01M footprint - much less board space than ESP-12.
    • D-spec instead of C-spec STM32F103 (RCT was out of stock anyway).
    • Changes to part packages for easier hand assembly.

    I've also successfully gotten Espruino building for it (it "just worked" - mad props to Gordon et. al. for the provisioning script).

    I may eventually start selling these on Tindie - as of now, I'm not planning to sell them (if any active posters are particularly interested in something like this, I could mail out a few, let me know). Just wanted to share some pics at this point, and express my amazement with how easy it was to build working Espruino firmware.

    Oddly enough, uploading it the first time has been the hardest part. I've been unable to make it upload from my Linux system at home, and it's been flaky on my windows system - sometimes it will upload at 57600 baud, othertimes it won't upload, no matter what I do.

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  • Looks great! The regulator was because I was trying to get lower power consumption (those regulators draw ~4mA), but yeah if you're planning on keeping it powered it's a no-brainer and then you can shove ESP8266/etc on there.

    What does everyone think of having protoboard on the device? It's something I wasn't sure about given the response to the Original Espruino, but I wonder whether it's something I should be looking into?

  • The huge response to this thread says something about interest in integrated protoboard, it would appear.

    I love integrated protoboard - but the downside is that it makes it harder to reuse the board, and Espruino boards aren't cheap enough to throw around; I suspect this is part of why people aren't more excited about protoboard (well, that and the aversion of so many electronics hobbyists to soldering, particularly SMDs) I found it very useful on the Espruino board, though.

  • Anyone want some of the Rev. - boards, unpopulated? I've got six (6) boards kicking around that I don't need now that I've got the Rev. A in stock.

    Main issue is that the ESP-01M slot is too wide, making it really hard to solder. No electrical issues.

  • Heh - well Gordon, there's your answer about demand for protoboard-integrated development boards. Can't even give the damned things away.

    People are weird , they just don't recognize value nowadays.

  • :) Yeah... it's a shame about the lack of interest. I wonder whether some of it is that people just don't do that much protoboard stuff now since most of the exciting stuff is SMD - you just get a pre-made sensor/etc board and wire it up.

  • Wed 2018.08.22

    'People are weird , they just don't recognize value nowadays.'

    Your target market is the younger crowd that has soldering skills, along with the desire to build stuff. I could see that back in the 70's-80's Technology has changed all that, hasn't it. Now that generation in on their cell phone substitute for other intellectual activities. It is also the last month(s) of summer and we had a late start here this year. Most, . . . as am I, are enjoying the last of the dying temps outdoors before the dread of a dreary winter hibernation.

    Try again after school starts, mid-term and the students have projects to complete before winter break. And/or try again in Jan-Feb when we are all stuck inside.

    That's how I see it, here in the mid-west USA

  • So what if all the good stuff is SMD? These boards have SOIC and (T)SSOP outline, and stack with my 2x4 SMD protoboards for even more part options! Someone needs to drill into people's heads that SMD soldering really isn't hard! I'd pick soldering a SOIC package over a DIP one any day, even working by hand... but most hobbyists act like SMD soldering is kryptonite.

  • but most hobbyists act like SMD soldering is kryptonite.

    Yeah - I've seen a 'test your SMD skills' thing you can buy, but actually it'd be pretty cool to have a 'learn SMD soldering' kit with a set of sample boards that do useful things - starting off big and getting smaller.

    As you say, as long as you have reasonably OK tools (and some solder wick) it's really not that hard

  • I don't think it's that no one's interested in boards with smd prototyping areas (or in free boards for that matter). I think there's a few other factors, you're also looking for people who:

    • want to solder and not just use breadboards/jumpers
    • are up for trying a non-official board
    • don't need something wireless (Gordon's last three boards were all Wi-Fi/Bluetooth)
    • are comfortable with flashing firmware
    • don't want something tiny
    • don't already have a preferred board for prototyping
    • browse this forum frequently

    There are probably few people fulfilling all of the above. :/

  • Fri 2018.08.24

    As @the1laz also brings up some very accurate and poignant observations, and . . . .

    re: 'Someone needs to drill into people's heads that SMD soldering really isn't hard!'

    Here's your answer:

    re: 'I'd pick soldering a SOIC package over a DIP one any day'

    As you are pushing your product and disappointed with those results, then it appears that Someone is you.

    Why not produce a YouTube video demonstrating the ease of soldering on your boards as you indicate?

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Espruino Board "clone" with attached protoboard

Posted by Avatar for DrAzzy @DrAzzy