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Dev board brings LCD and debug support to Espressif ESP32

Dec 29, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 3,353 views
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Olimex announced an upcoming “ESP-WROVER-KIT” for Espressif’s ESP32 modules, with LCD, camera, and USB/JTAG links. Also, the ESP32-CoreBoard is back in stock.

Bulgaria-based Olimex announced it will begin shipping limited quantities of Espressif’s LCD-ready ESP-WROVER-KIT in January. In addition, Espressif’s ESP32-CoreBoard is now once again in stock at Olimex, and Olimex’s own ESP32-EVB board will ship in January.


Espressif ESP32

All these products integrate open source modules based on Espressif’s ESP32 SoC, which appears to be even more popular than the original, lower-end ESP8266. Like the ESP8266 and new and much more similar ESP8285, which adds 1MB SPI flash, the ESP32 offers built-in WiFi. It also similarly supports either standalone operation, typically using FreeRTOS, or use as a slave device, for example as a subsystem incorporated into an Arduino board.



ESP-WROVER-KIT front view showing ESP-WROOM32 module (left) and back view showing LCD panel
(click images to enlarge)

Unlike the ESP8266 or ESP8285, the ESP32 provides dual-mode Bluetooth 4.2 with legacy classic and LE (low energy) support. The ESP32 also uses Cadence’s faster, 32-bit Tensilica Xtensa LX6, a dual-core MCU announced in Jan. 2015 that advances to an 80MHz to 240MHz clock rate with 600 DMIPS performance. Finally, the SoC supplies faster, up to 150Mbps HT40 (40MHz channel width) 2.4GHz WiFi.

 
ESP32-CoreBoard and ESP32-EVB

The ESP32-CoreBoard sold out quickly at Espressif distributor and OlinuXino Linux hacker board maker Olimex when it launched in October. The 52.3 x 27.9mm board offers WiFi and BLE, a micro-USB port, 2x buttons, and a status LED. The design, which supports the ESP-WROOM-32 module, appears to be out of stock at other locations like Electronic Watterott.




ESP32-CoreBoard (top) and ESP-WROOM-32 top/bottom (bottom)
(click images to enlarge)

Olimex’s ESP32-EVB board still lacks detailed specs, and is not yet available for pre-order. Early-stage specs from October included a 5V power supply and a LiPo charger and step up converter for uninterruptible power. The design integrates dual 220VAC/15A relays, dual user buttons, and status LEDs. A UEXT connector enables users to connect one of Olimex’s sensor UEXT boards, or program the board with serial cable, using the same approach supported by the earlier ESP8266-EVB.

 
ESP-WROVER-KIT

The new ESP-WROVER-KIT is an Espressif design that supports ESP32 modules including the ESP-WROOM-32 and new ESP32-WROVER. The latter supplies all the functions of ESP-WROOM-32, and adds 32 MBit of external pSRAM.



ESP-WROVER-KIT functional (left) and mechanical details
(click images to enlarge)

The ESP-WROVER-KIT is notable for providing a microSD slot and an LCD interface that supports mounting and interfacing to a 3.2-inch SPI 4-Wire display. Pin headers are provided for all of the ESP32 modules’ I/O, and the board integrates a camera interface supporting OV7670 camera modules. There’s also a 5V power supply, a 5V-to-3.3V LDO, and a micro-USB port for power and communications.


ESP-WROVER-KIT block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The board is further equipped with an FTDI FT2232HL multi-protocol USB bridge that lets developers use JTAG directly to debug the ESP32 via micro-USB. A 32.768 KHz crystal oscillator, SPI and UART interfaces, LEDs, and power, reset, and boot keys round out the feature set.

 
SeeedStudio’s ESP3212 replaced with ESP-32S

The ESP32-based SeeedStudio ESP3212 COM we reported on in September has been replaced with a very similar ESP-32S module. The update was revealed by CNXSoft in an update story on various ESP32-based boards posted back on Oct. 29.



SeeedStudio ESP-32S module
(click image to enlarge)

The two modules, which lack pin compatibility, support the same ESP-WROOM-32 model. The 24 x 16 x 3mm ESP-32S offers an operating temperature range of 40 to 125°C compared to 40 to 50°C on the original model. Other features appear to be very similar.

 
Further information

The Espressif ESP32-CoreBoard is once again available at Olimex for 17 Euros ($18). More information may be found at the Olimex ESP32-CoreBoard shopping page. The still unpriced Olimex ESP32-EVB board will be available in January 2017. The Espressif ESP-WROVER-KIT will be available from Olimex in January in limited quantities at an unstated price. More information may be found in Espressif’s ESP-WROVER-KIT getting started guide (PDF). The three boards are mentioned in this Dec. 29 Olimex blog entry.
 

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