New Open Source Hardware OSHW board with ESP32-S2 have native USB-OTG allowing USB host and device functionality with ESP32-S2 low power modes down to 20uA are possible

ESP32-S2 is new SOC from Espressif, compared to ESP32 it has no Bluetooth and Ethernet connectivity, but offers plenty of GPIOs and has native USB-OTG interface.

Our first version uses USB to Serial converter as Espressif IDE at that time didn’t support programming via the native USB interface, but now their SDK supports USB programming, so we released new version without the not necessary USB-Serial converter.

To the best of our knowledge this is the first board to the market where USB-OTG is implemented and the board can work both in device and host mode ( at least as hardware 🙂 )

The hardware now is ahead of software as USB host functionality in SDK is missing yet, but at least we provide hardware platform for the future.

ESP32-S2-DevKit-Lipo-USB is OSHW so the CAD files are available on GitHub if someone want to see how we implement the USB-OTG. It’s really complicated as we wanted to keep the handheld battery operation and keep the LiPo charger and battery circuit. This leads to quite some over engineering around the power supply as the battery should charge when USB-OTG works in Device mode, and source 5V to the USB-OTG when it’s in Host mode!

It took us 2 revisions until we made it right, so thanks for your patience, now the board is in stock and orderable.

ESP32-S2-WROVER-DevKit-Lipo-USB with WROVER module with 2MB RAM is also available for these who want to write big applications.

New Board with ESP32-S2 with LiPo charger unleash the native USB-OTG functionality

We recently released our ESP32-S2-DevKit-Lipo development board with ESP32-S2 SOC. It has the same functionality and pinout as Espressif ESP32-S2-Saola-1, but in addition it has a LiPo charger and battery management and is designed for Ultra low power – only 30uA consumption when on battery and deep sleep. This allows handheld battery operated applications. The LiPo part can power external sensors/circuits. This board has a built-in programmer with a CH340T USB-Serial convertor.

Many have noticed that ESP32-S2 has a native USB-OTG. Then why did we put the CH340T on it? The reason is that the Espressif SDK didn’t support USB back when we designed this board.

Now Espressif SDK adds support for a USB bootloader and the programming of the ESP32-S2 can be done by the native USB interface, we decided to make a new revision where the native USB-OTG interface is used.

We wanted to keep the LiPo battery functionality and this created an interesting technical challenge: the USB-OTG port can be used both as device and host. When used as a device, the board is powered by the USB and LiPo battery is charging. When used as a USB host (i.e. you can attach USB devices to the port) the USB port must supply 5V to the USB devices connected. Our first prototype had a power supply problem: when the ESP32-S2 works as a host the battery is powering the USB-OTG port with 5V, but there is attached also the LiPo charger circuit, so infinite loop is made: battery -> step up to 5V -> USB -> LiPo chgarger -> battery 🙂

This issue was preventing us from releasing this board earlier, but now on Rev.B all of these issues are fixed so we are about to run production.

Needless to say we kept the ultra low power design and the new board also consumes as low as 30uA in deep sleep.

Searching on the net it seems that no one else has implemented a USB-OTG functionality to the ESP32-S2 yet so this one will be the first. Also to the best of our knowledge there is still no software support for a USB host on the ESP32-S2 but we hope after our hardware is released this will push and accelerate the software development further.

ESP32-S2-DevKit-LiPo-USB is going to be released as Open Source Hardware like other IoT solutions we have.

New Open Source Hardware IoT ESP32-S2 development boards with LiPo Battery Charger and consumption of only 30uA in deep sleep target handheld WiFi apps

ESP32-S2 is new SOC from Espressif which fills the gap between ESP32 and ESP8266.

It has the same memory model as ESP32 but has cut the Ethernet and Bluetooth parts, so only WiFi connection is possible – same as ESP8266, but offers more power, secure boot and encrypted firmware. Also support of decent SSL connection, something which lacks in ESP8266.

Pricewise now S2 is a bit lower cost than ESP32 and more expensive than ESP8266, but there is very strong competition in this niche coming from the new Bouffalo BL6XX chips, so my prediction is that to stay ahead Espressif will further lower the prices of ESP32-S2 to match ESP8266 very soon.

For comparison with ESP32 and ESP8266 the new ESP32-S2 has plenty of GPIOs up to 43!

Initially Espressif has announced that their ESP32-S2-WROVER modules will have as low as 2-4uA consumption, but later they increased this value to 20uA. Not quite well as their target but still very good achievement.

Our ESP32-S2-DevKit-Lipo is pin to pin compatible with ESP32-S2-Saola-1:

To keep compatibility with SAOLA-1 we add RGB LED, but also add LiPo battery charger and ESP32-S2-DevKit-Lipo can operate even without external power supply only on LiPo battery, there is battery level monitoring and external power supply sense. ESP32-S2-DevKit-Lipo can power external circuits with 3.3V up to 200mA when operate on battery.

ESP32-S2-DevKit-Lipo has build in programmer with CH340T. There is possibility the programmer part to be excluded and to use ESP32-S2 directy USB connection.

When operating on battery if the RGB LED is enabled the power consumption is ridiculous 700uA as the RGB LED appear to use lot of current even when not in operation, but there is RGB disable solder jumper which if opened you will not be able to operate the RGB LED on battery but will decrease the power consumption to total less 30uA in deep sleep.

For these who need more memory there is variant ESP32-S2-WROVER-DevKit-Lipo with 2MB of PSRAM.

The prices start from EUR 5.56 for ESP32-S2-DevKit-Lipo and EUR 6.36 for ESP32-S2-WROVER-DevKit-Lipo .

Open Source Software OpenMQTTGateway got initial support for Open Source Hardware ESP32-GATEWAY

OpenMQTTGateway project aims to concentrate in one Gateway different technologies like Bluetooth, LoRa, IR, lagacy RF 433/315, GSM/GPRS based devices and connect them with OpenHAB, Home Assistant, Jeedom, FHEM, Domotic etc platforms via MQTT protocol.

The list of the supported devices is long.

With recent PR initial support for ESP32-GATEWAY is add.

Open Source Hardware IoT boards ESP32-EVB and ESP32-GATEWAY now are available in industrial grade -40+85C

esp32-gateway-gpios

ESP32-EVB and ESP32-GATEWAY are two very popular IoT boards which are supported both by Arduino IDE and Espressif SDK.

Now we stock ESP32-EVB-IND and ESP32-GATEWAY-IND which are functionally same boards, but all components used in them work in industrial temperature grade -40+85C.

New IP Camera OSHW board in design RFC

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We started recently new design with Allwinner S3 SOC.

The board have these features:

  • Allwinner S3 Cortex-A7 running at 1.2Ghz
  • AXP209 PMU with Lipo charger and step-up for UPS
  • internal 1Gb DDR3 RAM at 1333Mhz
  • 100Mb Ethernet interface with PoE option
  • NAND/eMMC/SPI Flash on socket
  • WiFi / BT module with RTL8723BS
  • Audio In and Out
  • UEXT connector
  • Lipo battery connector
  • Configuration EEPROM
  • LCD connector for LCD-OLinuXino
  • MIPI camera connector with RPi pinout
  • CSI camera connector
  • Dimensions: 60 x 50 mm

img1

S3 SOC is on bottom so heatsink could be add if overheating due to the small PCB area.

img3

We want to build intelligent camera solution which can be powered by PoE and can work with both wired and wireless Ethernet connection.

We add MIPI camera connector with RPi pinout as there are plenty of cheap 5Mpix cameras available.

We also will provide CSI camera with 5-8Mpix separately.

Why we do this board? We want to have intelligent IP camera among our tools and we put features which are necessary to fit our potential projects. This board have also potential for Voice over IP , Video over IP, Security, Home remote monitoring etc.

Initial upload on GitHub is with our schematic and components put on PCB locations, routing is ahead, so we would like to hear your opinion.

Did we forgot something?

Can we do something differently or better?

Let us know what do you think.

Open Source Hardware boards for NB-IoT technology presented at RuseConf 2019

nbito

RuseConf is part of IT-Tour. Every year IT-Tour organize conferences in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse, Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo. They are all made by volunteers and completely free to participate. The idea is to encourage local IT community to share ideas and interesting talks.

This weekend on 28th of September was RuseConf and Olimex presented there our newest NB-IoT boards.

NB-IoT-DevKit boards will be on our web for sale next week with sale price per one unit EUR 18.00. They employ the NB-IoT technology which uses existing LTE 4G network to implement LPWAN.

The NB-IoT devices use low power and can operate on battery for 10 years if network traffic is less 200 bytes per day (this may seems small but SigFox for instance allow 2 to 140 uploads of 12 bytes messages per day. NB-IoT has no restrictions and limits, but if have to be careful as more traffic means more battery discharge. One GSM LTE base cell can connect up to 100 000 NB-IoT devices at same time ( but of course it no one talk on his GSM phone in this cell range) which beats LoRa gateway maximal theoretical 49 connections. Also the NB-IoT module we use has +20dB more sensitivity so if normally one Base cell can connect to NB-IoT nodes up to 10km this module has 10 time more sensitivity and can connect up to 100 km from the base cell. This of course is marketing claim theoretical claim as explained in the talk but still impressive.

The slides are in Bulgarian and English and uploaded at Slideshare.com

 

NB-IoT event organized by Comet electronics on December 4th

LTE_NB-IOT

NB-IoT is one of the promising LPWAN technologies I review in both my Industry 4.0 and OpenFest 2018 talks.

It’s lightweight LTE technology which has only 48 bytes of payload and 30kbps up and down link. Some call it 0G.

NB-IoT is specified by 3GPP standartization organization, same which standartize 2G/3G/4G/5G. It works flawless with existing cellular technologies with simplified RF and processing.

With these high speeds and small payloads the average consumption of NB-IoT make it more efficient even than LoRa, but there is many things to consider in your design.

First is that NB-IoT never will reach LoRa price point, it will be always about x2 more expensive.

Second – some modules like for instance the popular Ublox SARA-N2  which cost EUR 11 for 250 pcs, can’t work at lower than 2.75V power supply. Most Lithium batteries capacity is quoted with battery discharge from 3V to 2V so these modules will work only with fraction of the capacity of Lithium batteries. They are designed to operate from 2.75 to 4.2V i.e. targeting LiPO re-chargeable batteries, but these will never stay charged for 10 years as NB-IoT technology promises, so this is really odd design choice by Ublox.

Another thing to take into consideration is the high current pulses which LTE technology introduce (up to 2A when link is established). So even on paper NB-IoT to looks better than LoRa it still could be implemented with compromises where these benefits to be not seen.

Fortunately some Chinese vendors (like Quectel) made their modules BC66 to work from 2.1V.

Comet Electronics is organizing on December 4th NB-IoT event together with the first cellular operator which implements NB-IoT connectivity in Bulgaria – A1 and with Chinese module supplier Quectel.

It would be interesting to touch and evaluate this technology which is relatively new, has no infrastructure and is dependent by subscription fees only.

NB-IoT Gateways are not expensive and cost about $2000, but you can’t use them unless you have licensee to operate at GSM frequency (and these licensees cost millions of EUROs at least here in Bulgaria) so you can use your gateway only in Faraday cage :). This is where LoRa technology shine and this is what makes it so popular! No subscription, no fees for data transport, everyone can run his own gateway.

This is also one of the reason NB-IoT infrastructure is not so well developed – the investment is small, but the mobile operators still can’t figure out how to squeeze money out of this. There are already several providers on the net which sell NB-IoT SIM cards with EU roaming and with low cost like $12 per year, but local operators will find a way to shut these down and take their share.

Electronica 2018 highlights – AI, Smart Solutions, Communication and Security

electronica2018

Electronica in Munich trade fair is the most important meeting place for the electronics industry. Last week more than 3000 exhibitors and 80 000 visitors met together .

What was very visible this years is that beside the traditional big number of German companies the second biggest by number of companies exhibitor was China. There were both big:

cnbig

 

and small companies:

cnsmall

Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Smart solutions, Connectivity and security were dominating topics among the exhibitors.

LoRa and NB-IoT solutions were present on almost every fifth booth 🙂

The slides from Industry 4.0 meeting in Stuttgart are online

zve-frauenhofer

Open Source / Free Software for Effective Industry 4.0 Meetup  organized by Nexedi GmbH  and hosted by Fraunhofer IAO was held on 12th of November in Stuttgart.

There were quite interesting talks mostly focused on Open Source Technologies and their possible use in Industry 4.0.

My slides are now uploaded at Slideshare.

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