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ESP32 dev board ships with multiple IoT kit options

Apr 10, 2017 — by Eric Brown 4,199 views

The $12, open source “Hornbill” dev board runs FreeRTOS on an ESP32 wireless module, and is available in several Hornbill kits.

A Bangalore, India based startup has successfully funded its ESP32-based, IoT-oriented “Hornbill” boards and dev kits on Crowd Supply. The Hornbill boards are built around Espressif’s open source ESP-WROOM32 reference module, which is based on its similarly open source ESP32 system-on-chip. This follow-on to Espressif’s hugely popular ESP8266 SoC incorporates a faster, dual-core Tensilica LX6 MCU and adds BLE and sensors in addition to the previous WiFi. The same ESP-WROOM32 module has been used by other development kits such as Olimex’s ESP32-CoreBoard.

Hornbill ESP32 Dev (left) and ESP-WROOM32 module
(click images to enlarge)

The main Hornbill attraction is the $12 Hornbill ESP32 Dev, a breadboard-friendly board with a micro-USB to serial port, a single-cell LiPo charger, and the wireless-ready ESP-WROOM32 module. This PCB can be soldered onto a $15 Hornbill Proto baseboard, which offers a microSD slot, temperature and humidity sensors, IR transmitters and receivers, and lots of prototyping pads. You can also buy a $15, IP67 water- and dust-proof case for the Hornbill ESP32 Dev in gray or white, or get all three items for $39.

Hornbill products clockwise from upper left: Hornbill Case, Hornbill Proto, Case in white, Hornbill Minima, ESP-WROOM32 module, and Hornbill ESP32 Dev
(click image to enlarge)

The Hornbill ESP32 Dev is also available as part of a $59 Hornbill Maker Kit. The kit offers a mini-breadboard, a microSD breakout, an OLED display, and sensors for temperature, light, ultra-sonic distance, accelerometer/gyro, PIR motion, and temperature/humidity. The kit also includes a relay shield, resistors, headers, jumper wires, a buzzer, LEDs, and a rotary encoder.

Hornbill Proto (left) and Hornbill Minima
(click images to enlarge)

In addition to the Hornbill ESP32 Dev, there are a variety of alternative Hornbill designs. A round, $12 Hornbill Minima board designed for wearables combines an ESP-WROOM32 with a LiPo plug, and requires the use of crocodile clips to access I/O.

The project is also offering a variety of specialty kits that use custom PCB Hornbill implementations of the ESP32 integrated within the Hornbill Case. These include a $39 Hornbill OUR (Open Universal Remote) kit described as a BLE Infrared bridge that can control IR devices with a smartphone app.

Hornbill Maker Kit (left) and Hornbill Industrial Data Logger (IDL) Kit
(click images to enlarge)

Other kits include a $59 Hornbill Industrial Data Logger (IDL) Kit that acts as a temperature and power data logger for monitoring critical equipment. There’s also a $79 Hornbill Lights Kit — a Bluetooth ambience light controller that uses WS2812 LED strips.


The Hornbill boards run FreeRTOS on the ESP32. The demos that run on the various kits were developed with the open source Espressif Internet Development Framework (ESP-IDF), a set of C APIs to access lower level hardware functionality.

The developers will also provide cross-platform apps for Android and iOS, as well as “numerous bare metal as well as Arduino tutorials.” In addition, Hornbill boards will be able to run a Hornbill IO stack for cloud connectivity built on Amazon’s AWS IoT platform. The ESP32’s built-in encryption supports the AWS IoT mandated Transport Layer Security (TLS 1.2) for end-to-end security. Each device purchased during the campaign will get 10K of free messages on AWS IoT per year.

Further information

The Hornbill boards are available for Crowd Supply funding starting at $12 for another 43 days. Shipments are due in June. More information may be found on the Hornbill Crowd Supply page and this Hornbill GitHub page.

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