The ESP32 is a System on Chip (SoC) designed by Espressifs systems that can be used to add both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality to projects. It is ideal for the development of mobile devices, IoT applications and wearable electronics due to its wireless capabilities and smart power management among other features. Since the ESP32 SoC comes in the form of a surface mount chip or module, it is not easy to use for prototyping in its barebones state. That is why it is advisable to use an ESP32 breakout board when developing your projects.
To access all the features on the ESP32, one must have access to all its pins. The ESP32 breakout boards make this possible by providing a breadboard-friendly pin configuration that developers can use to easily interface the ESP32 with other devices and components. In addition to this, the breakout boards provide all additional circuitry that the ESP32 needs to function. All these things expedite the prototype development process, reducing the cost and time it takes to build a project using the ESP32 SoC.
This ESP32 breakout board review will analyze several popular ESP32 breakout boards that are available in the market. It will also provide an insight into what to look for when selecting a breakout board. With this information, you will be able to purchase an ESP32 board that serves all your needs.
What to look for in ESP32 Breakout Boards
There are several things that you should check for when purchasing an ESP32 breakout board. One of those things is the pin configuration of the board. To be able to utilize all the features of the ESP32 chip you need access to all its pins. Therefore, confirm whether the pin spacing and layout of the breakout board are compatible with the rails of a breadboard. In other words, is the pin configuration breadboard-friendly?
Another thing to check out for is the additional circuitry on the board. The ESP32 chip needs some extra circuitry for it to be programmed and powered successfully. This circuitry is usually available on the breakout board. You should make sure that the ESP32 breakout board has a USB-to-UART interface, a voltage regulation circuit and access to the reset and boot features preferably via pushbuttons.
Those are some of the considerations you should make when selecting an ESP32 board. If your breakout board meets the above requirements you will be assured of a fast and successful project development process.
HiLetgo ESP-WROOM-32 ESP32 ESP-32S Development Board
Hiletgo ESP-32S breakout board is designed to offer embedded system developers access to all the features of the ESP-WROOM-32 SoC. You can use it to build prototypes for projects that require Bluetooth connection or projects based on the Internet of Things. It is ideal for professionals as well as beginners since it is easy to setup and program, thanks to the additional essential components that it comes with.
Interfacing the HiLetgo ESP-32S breakout board with other devices and peripherals is an easy task. This is because of its breadboard-friendly pin configuration. When mounted on a breadboard, the ESP-32S leaves an empty row on either side of the board, providing access to all of its pins. On the down side, due to its smaller size, the pin numbers are provided on the bottom part of the board. So, it is not easy for one to identify the pin numbers when the ESP-32S is mounted on a breadboard.
Programming of the ESP-32S board is done via a USB cable, thanks to the CP2102 USB Bridge that is available on the board. The board can be programmed using NodeMCU Lua and there are several resources provided to guide you on how to get started. The resources provide information on how to build for ESP32, flashing firmware, schematics and the Lua SDK. These resources are provided by the company that has designed the ESP-32S breakout board. This saves time that would have been spent searching online for resources.
SparkFun ESP32 Thing
Sparkfun ESP32 thing is a breakout board designed by Sparkfun electronics for the ESP32 SoC. It is an ideal board for the development of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled prototypes. The ESP32 thing has all the required circuitry on-board to aid in the programming of the ESP32 SoC and interfacing of other peripheral devices to it.
USB to UART interfacing is achieved with an FTDI231x chip, allowing easy programming of the ESP32 chip. There is also a reset and boot button that can be used when flashing new firmware onto the ESP32 chip. Prototyping is further made simpler by the breadboard-friendly pin configuration. Even after mounting the ESP32 thing onto a breadboard, you will be left with two empty rows of breadboard rails on either side of the ESP32 thing. This allows easy access to the pins when interfacing with other devices and components.
The ESP32 Thing also comes with a Lipo battery charging circuit and connector. A Lipo battery can be connected to the board to provide power especially if the device is to be installed in a remote location. The charging circuit charges the connected battery whenever a USB cable is plugged onto the board. Due to the ESP32 low power consumption and sleep mode capability, the thing would be able to last for a long time on battery power. Also, batteries with a larger capacity can be used to achieve longer battery life in remote devices. Thanks to this feature, the ESP32 thing can be used to create a truly wireless device.
Makerfocus ESP32 DevKit ESP32 Development Board
The Makerforcus ESP32 DevKit is an ESP-WROOM-32 based breakout board designed to provide Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi radio solutions. It comes with all the basic support circuitry from the ESP32 SoC, which enables you to get right into designing the application, instead of concentrating on other things such as antenna design and USB communication. This reduces the time spent building prototypes.
The support circuitry for this breakout board includes, CH340 USB-UART Bridge, LDO voltage regulator, buttons for reset and boot functions and a micro-USB connector. The voltage regulator provides 3.3V supply that is used by the ESP32 SoC and can also be used to power other peripheral devices or components that operate on a similar voltage. Also, thanks to USB-UART interface the board can be programmed directly without having to press the reset and boot buttons.
Setting up the Makerforcus ESP32 breakout board is an easy process. Its pin layout is compatible with breadboards and programming is done directly via a USB cable. So all you need to do is mount the breakout board onto a bread board and plug in the USB cable. However, if you want to connect other peripheral devices or components to the breakout board pins, you may have to use an extra breadboard. This is because the Makerfocus ESP32 breakout board is very wide and completely covers the breadboard rails, leaving no space for you to connect jumper wires to its pins.
Arduino Robot Kits: Our #1 Pick
Selecting best Arduino robot kit is not that easy because each kit has something unique to offer. However, since the main purpose of the robot kits is to help beginners learn about electronics, programming and robotics, we will settle on the ArcBotics Sparki robot. This is because it is the most comprehensive robot kit in the group.
The Sparki usually comes assembled and ready for use. Moreover, it has wireless control over Bluetooth as well as Infrared communication and has a wide array of sensors and actuators integrated into its design. Moreover, the kit comes with more than 100 lessons with practical exercises and has an active support and community for learners. Therefore, it is ideal for both learners and professionals.