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unPhone: An Educational Platform Featuring LoRa, WiFi, BT, Touchscreen, and LiPo Battery

Apr 7, 2024 — by Giorgio Mendoza 499 views

Pimoroni recently featured the unPhone which is an open hardware and open software IoT development platform based on the ESP32 MCU and targeted at makers and developers. Accompanying the device is a free online book, providing theoretical and practical insights into the unPhone’s features.


According to the product page, this device was developed through a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, Pimoroni, and Gareth Coleman. As mentioned earlier, this development platform is powered by the ESP32-S3 microcontroller:


  • ESP32-S3 — Dual-core Xtensa LX7 (up to 240 MHz); 8M PSRAM, 8MB Flash

unPhone kit
(click image to enlarge)

The user interface is managed through a 3.5-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen, offering a resolution of 320 x 480 which can be used for debugging and UI development. Additional functionalities include IR LEDs, potentially used for remote control applications, and a vibration motor for notifications.

Sensors such as a compass and accelerometer are embedded in the unPhone, enhancing its utility in diverse applications. The device is powered by a 1200mAh LiPo battery, which supports USB-C charging. The case appears to be included in the order, but the STL files are also available on the unPhone GitHub repository.

unPhone pcb board
(click images to enlarge)

The unPhone is designed with expandability in mind. It supports Adafruit’s FeatherWing standard, allowing for straightforward extensions to the device. In terms of programming, it supports both C++ and CircuitPython.

Designed as an open hardware and software platform, the unPhone is accompanied by a comprehensive IoT textbook to enhance its educational utility. Utilized in academic projects, such as control systems for aquaponic agriculture, it supports and encourages community-driven learning, providing a various of resources and user support.

unPhone demos
(click images to enlarge)

A complimentary online textbook is available, covering Sheffield University’s Internet of Things course, suitable for anyone interested in IoT topics. Chapter 11 specifically delves into the unPhone’s capabilities. Additionally, its GitHub repository offers access to schematics, STL files, and software examples for further exploration.

Further Information

Retailing at £139.50, the unPhone kit includes a pre-assembled unPhone, an expander board, a FPC cable to connect the two, and self-adhesive mounts for the board, all available for purchase on the Pimoroni online store.

(advertise here)

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