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Easy Basics: Project 087a ESP32 Development Boards - How to select a proper one

of Lex C. in ESP8266 ESP-32

Basics: Project 087a

Project name: ESP32 Development Boards - How to select a proper one

Tags: ESP32, ESP32 development boards, ESP32 chip, how to select ESP32, development board, ESP32 DEVKIT DOIT, Adafruit ESP32 Feather, Huzzah32, Sparkfun ESP32 Thing, Sparkfun ESP32 Thing Plus, ESP32 with OLED, WEMOS LOLIN32, ESP32 SX1278, LoRa, Wemos LoLin32 with OLED display SSD1306, DEV-13907, WRL-14689

General

In this project we are going to compare several ESP32 development boards. The purpose of this article is to help to choose the best ESP32 development board for your DIY project requirements.

The ESP32 is the ESP8266 successor. It has a lot of new features: combines Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities, dual core...

You can find the ESP32 as a standalone module or as a full-feature development board. There are many ESP32 development boards available on the market. 

ESP32 chip

Features&Specs:

  • Wireless connectivity WiFi: 150.0 Mbps data rate with HT40, Bluetooth: BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and Bluetooth Classic
  • Processor: Tensilica Xtensa Dual-Core 32-bit LX6 microprocessor, running at 160 or 240 MHz
  • ROM: 448 KB
  • SRAM: 520 KB
  • Low Power: ensures that you can still use ADC conversions, for example, during deep sleep.
  • Peripheral Input/Output: peripheral interface with DMA that includes capacitive touch, ADCs (Analog-to-Digital Converter), DACs (Digital-to-Analog Converter), I2C (Inter-Integrated Circuit), UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter), SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface), I2S (Integrated Interchip Sound), RMII (Reduced Media-Independent Interface), PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation), Security: hardware accelerators for AES and SSL/TLS, Arduino IDE compatible:  you can program the ESP32 with the Arduino IDE (using Windows, Mac OS X and Linux OSes), Compatible with MicroPython: you can program the ESP32 with MicroPython firmware.

How to select a proper ESP32 development board?

There are several aspects you need to take into account:

  1. Pin configuration and number of pins. To properly use the ESP32 development board in your DIY projects you need to have access to the board pinout. Make sure that it's available. 
  2. USB-to-UART interface and voltage regulator circuit. Most of ESP32 development boards have these features.
  3. BOOT and RESET buttons.
  4. Battery connector. If you want to power your ESP32 development board using batteries, there are development boards that come with connectors for liPo batteries.
  5. Additional features. There are ESP32 development boards with extra features like an OLED display, a LoRa module or a camera.

Popular ESP32 development boards

1. ESP32 DEVKIT DOIT

There are two versions of this board, with 30 and with 36 GPIOs. Both work in a similar way, the version with 30 GPIOs comes with two GND pins, the version with 36 GPIOs has the extra GPIOs but they are not recommended for use as connected to the ESP32 integrated flash memory. 

The pins are labeled at the top of the board, so it is easy to identify the pins.

It comes with on-board EN (RESET) and BOOT buttons, with USB-to-UART interface and with voltage regulator circuit.

The board can be powered using the micro-USB connector and it doesn’t have a battery connector.

The version with 30 GPIOs pinout you can find here and the version with 36 GPIOs pinout is available here.

2. Adafruit ESP32 Feather Huzzah32

Meet the ESP32-based board from Adafruit. It comes with USB-to-UART interface and voltage regulator circuit.  The pins are labeled at the top and at the bottom of the board.

A great addition to this board is the Lithium Ion/Polymer battery connector. This is perfect for battery powered DIY projects. It has Micro USB cable connection too.

It has 28 GPIOs and one GND pin only. Just one button Reset is on-board.

You can find the pinout here.

3. Sparkfun ESP32 Thing (DEV-13907)

The ESP32 Thing is the ESP32-based board from Sparkfun. It comes with all the functionalities to easily communicate and program the ESP32 with your computer.

It comes with a connector for LiPo batteries, and a LiPo charger. This means rechargeable batteries can be easily charged by plugging 5V to the board through the USB connector. It has Micro-B USB connector too.

The pins are labeled at the top and bottom of the board, so it is easy to identify the pins.

It comes with 28 GPIOs and has two buttons on-board -EN (reset) and BOOT (0) and has five GND pins. 

You can find the pinout for this board here.

SparkFun ESP32 Thing Plus (WRL-14689)

The SparkFun ESP32 Thing Plus is the next step to get started with Espressif IoT ideations while still enjoying all the amenities of the original ESP32 Thing. It has a Qwiic connector for all your Qwiic breakout needs. The board was made compatible with the Adafruit Huzzah32 – ESP32 Feather Board such that you can use all of those lovely shields available with Adafruit.

The pins are labeled at the top and bottom of the board, so it is easy to identify the pins.

It comes with a connector for LiPo batteries, and a LiPo charger. This means rechargeable batteries can be easily charged by plugging 5V to the board through the USB connector. It has Micro-B USB connector too.

It comes with 21 GPIOs and has two buttons on-board - EN (reset) and BOOT (0) and has one GND pins.

You can find pinout for this board here.

4. WEMOS-ESP32 with Battery Holder

This ESP32 development board comes with a battery holder at the back for a 18650 battery that allows no wire operation for about 17 hours if using 3000mAh batteries.

This board also includes 18650 battery charging system and two LEDs to indicate the battery state. It has Micro USB connector too.

This is a great choice if you want something compact running on batteries. Additionally, this board is able to charge and work at the same time.

The pins are labeled at the top and bottom of the board, so it is easy to identify the pins.

It comes with 32 GPIOs, has three GND pins, has two buttons on-board - EN (reset) and BOOT. 

You can find the board pinout here.

5. Wemos LoLin32 ESP32 with OLED display SSD1306

This WEMOS ESP32 board is quite similar with the previous one, but instead of a battery holder, it comes with a 0.96" OLED display.

The pins are labeled at the top of the board, so it is easy to identify the pins. This is the very good add-on for your DIY projects. 

It comes with 19 GPIOs, has three GND pins, has two buttons on-board - EN (reset) and BOOT. 

You can find the board pinout here.

6. ESP32 board for LoRaWan application development (SX1276 or SX1278) 433-868-915MHz

This ESP32 board comes with the SX1276 or SX1278 chip, which is a LoRa transceiver chip. LoRa is a wireless data communication technology that allows long range communication of small amounts of data, while minimizing power consumption.

It comes with an OLED display, which is really handy to display LoRa messages.

The pins are labeled at the bottom of the board, so it is easy to identify the pins.

It comes with 28 GPIOs, has three GND pins, has two buttons on-board - RST and PRG. 

You can find the board pinout here.

7. WEMS TTGO T-Controller ESP32 and 0.96 OLED SSD1306 I2C display controller

This ESP32 development board comes with ESPRESSIF-WROVER-B chip (4MB SPI Flash and 8MB PSRAM), a battery holder at the back for a 18650 battery that allows no wire operation. It has battery switch and button with 5 positions (OK,UP,DOWN,LEFT,RIGHT).

It has 0.96" OLED display with SSD1306 I2C display controller

This board also includes 18650 battery charging system and LED to indicate the battery state. It has Micro USB connector too.

The pins are marked on both sides. It comes with 24 GPIOs, has three GND pins, has two buttons on-board - EN (RESET) and BOOT. 

You can find the board pinout here.



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Published at 20-07-2019
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