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ESP32 based Banana Pi boards mimic Arduino Uno and Micro:bit

Apr 11, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1400 views

SinoVoip has launched two ESP32-based hacker boards that support Arduino and Webduino programming: an Arduino Uno like “Banana Pi BPI-ESP32” and a BBC Micro:bit clone called the “BPI:bit.”

SinoVoip is expanding its Banana Pi franchise beyond its focus on Linux/Android boards, such as its Banana Pi M2 Zero, to produce two boards based on Espressif’s open source ESP32 system-on-chip. The $13 Banana Pi BPI-ESP32 is an Arduino Uno clone with Arduino shield and IDE support, and the $19.50 BPI:bit mimics the BBC Micro:bit, but adds WiFi via the ESP32.



BPI-ESP32 (left) and BPI:bit
(click images to enlarge)

Neither board runs Linux, of course, but they can both be programmed with the Arduino IDE and Webduino (Blocky) IDE. Webduino, however, may only be available in China and Taiwan.

Espressif’s ESP32 SoC is built on Cadence’s 32-bit Tensilica Xtensa LX6, a dual-core MCU with an 80MHz to 240MHz clock rate and 600 DMIPS performance. It also integrates 448kB ROM, 520kB RAM, a 150Mbps HT40 (40MHz channel width) 2.4GHz WiFi radio, as well as dual-mode Bluetooth 4.2 with classic and LE support.

 
Banana Pi BPI-ESP32

The 68 x 53 mm BPI-ESP32 imitates the Arduino Uno R3 form factor. As noted by the CNXSoft post that alerted us to the product, the BPI-ESP32 is also referred to on the AliExpress shopping page as the BPI-UNO32, the name used on the GitHub page,and there are two discrepancies in the photos shown on the two pages with the BPI-UNO32 GitHub photo showing a buzzer and RGB LED that do not appear on the shopping page photo.



BPI-UNO32 (BPI-ESP32) image shown on GitHub page (left) and BPI-ESP32 pinout
(click images to enlarge)

The BPI-ESP32 uses the ESP-WROOM-32 implementation of the ESP32 design. The ESP-WROOM-32 has 4MB of Flash. The board also adds Arduino compatible headers, and a micro-USB that supports programming input as well as a 5V power input. You can also power the board at 12V from a DC jack.

A variety of LEDs, buttons, a buzzer are available. The board supports -40 to 85°C temperatures.

 
BPI:bit

The BPI:bit measures 50 x 50mm compared to 50 x 40mm for the $14 BBC Micro:bit, and is similarly aimed at the education market. It replaces the 48MHz NXP Kinetis KL26Z Cortex-M0+ MCU with an ESP32, but is otherwise almost identical.



BPI:bit, front and back
(click image to enlarge)

Since the ESP32 already provides both Bluetooth and WiFi, the board dispenses with the Micro:bit’s Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 Cortex-M0 MCU and its 2.4GHz Bluetooth Smart transceiver. So you’re basically getting a faster processor and WiFi, but with a larger form factor.



Detail views for BPI:bit (left) and BBC Micro:bit
(click images to enlarge)

Like the BBC Micro:bit, the BPI:bit has a 20-finger edge connector, 25 programmable LEDs, 3x digital/analog I/O rings, and two programmable buttons, and they are more or less in the same positions. Other similar features include accelerometer and compass sensors, a battery connector, and a micro-USB USB-to-UART port for power or debugging. New features include temperature and dual light sensors.

 
Further information

The Banana Pi BPI-ESP32 is on sale for $11 for the first 500 pieces before pushing to $13. The BPI:bit sells for $19.50. Neither price includes SinoVoip shipping costs, which can vary widely. More information may be found in the BPI-ESP32 and BPI:bit AliExpress shopping pages, as well as SinoVoip’s BPI-ESP32 (BPI-UNO32) and BPI:bit GitHub pages.

 

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