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EsPiFF

An ESP32-WROVER with an RP2040 co-processor in a Raspberry Pi 4 form factor

$3,000 raised

of $2,250 goal

133% Funded!

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Funding ends on Jan 05, 2023 at 03:59 PM PST.

$55

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EsPiFF is a rock-solid Raspberry Pi replacement for applications that do not require the processing power of a Pi or the versatility of Linux but that do require extreme reliability. Pis are great for video, firewall, and NAS applications, but they don’t always provide the level of stability needed for 24/7 applications like home- and industrial-automation deployments. EsPiFF is optimized for uptime, thanks to a supervisor, a super-cap-buffered external real time clock (RTC), an external reset generator, an external watchdog, 8 Mbit of high-end ISSI flash storage, and 2 KB of FRAM for permanent, high-speed, storage for process variables.

And of course, the global chip crisis has made it quite difficult to source Raspberry Pis, so EsPiFF represents a viable alternative for different kinds of projects.

Reuse Existing Raspberry Pi Accessories

EsPiFF packs an RP2040 on board, which enables the use of existing Pi HATs. The RP2040 state machines allow you to use any protocol via the 40-pin header. 100-MHz signals on your HAT pins? No problem. The RP2040 can handle that. Paired with 16 MB of flash storage, it combines the speed of an FPGA with the simplicity of a SDK-, Arduino-, or Python-programmable MCU.

EsPiFF also fits in third-party Raspberry Pi enclosures, allowing you to choose from a wide array of options, from DIY print-at-home cases to plastic to metal to DIN rail to whatever else the Raspberry Pi community has made available.

Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Serial Communication

EsPiFF is made for communication. It provides wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB host and device modes, and up to three UART connections. It supports external Wi-Fi antennas, as well, which makes it compatible with all kind of plastic and metal enclosures. We are shipping each EsPiFF unit with an external Wi-Fi antenna.

Flexible Storage, Efficient Processing, and No Heat-Dissipation Issues

EsPiFF comes with 16 MB of flash built into the module, and we’ve added 8 Mbit of on-board external flash as well as an (unpopulated) footprint for up to 512 Mbit of additional high-end ISSI flash storage. And of course, you can use the SD card reader to extend this capacity even further. The ESP32’s dual 240-MHz CPUs have access to 8 MB of PSRAM, and EsPiFF is so thermally efficient that you could place it in a water- or air-tight enclosure and it would continue to operate in a way that would be impossible for a Raspberry Pi.

Features & Specifications

Comparisons

EsPiffObsidan-ESP32Raspberry Pi 4
Manufacturer Team MDC Singleboardsolutions Raspberry Pi Foundation
MCU ESP32-WROVER ESP32-WROVER BCM2711B0​
OS Bare metal, FreeRTos Bare metal, FreeRTos Linux
Memory8 MB PSRAM 8 MB PSRAM 1/2/4/8 GB
On-board flash storage16 MB 16 MB MicroSD only
High-speed FRAM2 KB No No
High-speed ISSI flash8 Mbit No No
Additional ISSI flashUnpopulated footprint for 512 Mbit chip No No
Micro SD cardYes No Yes
External RTCYes No No
SupercapYes No No
SupervisorYes No No
Wired EthernetYes No Yes
Co-processorYes RP2040 No No
HAT max pin speed100 MHz I²C GPIO (slow) Module specific
PoE HAT possibleYes No Yes
Hard real timeYes (fast) Yes (slow) No
Heat sink requiredNo No Yes
JTAG headerUnpopulated No Unpopulated
Price$55 $35 $45

Board Layout

Support & Documentation

EsPiFF is fully open source and you can find our design files on GitHub, along with our datasheet. EsPiFF runs Apache NuttX RTOS, or you can program it with Espressif IDF, Arduino, and other ESP32 development tools.

Manufacturing Plan

We will be working with a manufacturing partner in China, who will handle fabrication of the EsPiFF PCBs and as assembly for most components. We have worked with this partner for a long time—including on previous versions of EsPiFF—and have been consistently pleased with their professionalism, quality, and efficiency. We will do final assembly and testing in house.

Support & Logistics

After our production run is complete, we will box everything up and send it along to Crowd Supply’s fulfillment partner, Mouser Electronics, who will handle distribution to backers worldwide. You can learn more about Crowd Supply’s fulfillment service under Ordering, Paying, and Shipping in their guide.

Risks & Challenges

We have designed and produced several products, and that experience has taught us valuable lessons about every stage of the process. When it comes to our BOM, for example, we use consistently available components wherever possible, we source critical parts in advance, and we identify alternatives, to name just a few of the best practices we employ.

While there are no pin-compatible equivalents for three of our ICs—the ESP32 module, the RP2040, and the IP101—these parts have been consistently available throughout the past two years, despite the chip shortage. We do not anticipate any difficulty sourcing them. Furthermore, should the IP101 become unavailable, we are prepared to design an alternative layout to accommodate the RTL8201, what is functionally identical but has a different footprint.

In the Press

Tom's Hardware

"Known as the EsPiFF, there's a combination of dual-core ESP32-WROVER and RP2040 humming away at its heart, with the latter acting as a co-processor to bridge the divide between ESP32 and Pi-compatible HATs."

CNX Software

"The goal here is to provide a Raspberry Pi 4 replacement for applications that require higher reliability and even 24/7 operation without necessarily needing the processing power and multimedia capabilities of the [Pi]"

Geeky Gadgets

"...can be used with existing Raspberry Pi HATS and enclosures and can be powered by the USB-C connector with up to 5V/3A, for power hungry HATs. Optional, it can be powered with 24V, or from a PoE HAT if preferred."


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Produced by MDC-Service Wittenburg GmbH in Freiberg, Sachsen, Germany.

Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.

EsPiFF

One EsPiFF board, tested and ready to go. Comes with an external antenna and an assortment of cables, including: one serial-display cable with JST female 06SUR connectors on both sides, one serial-display cable with a JST female 06SUR and six female Dupont connectors for Nextion (tm) or similar TFTs, two serial-extension cables with a Hirose female DF11 and eight color-coded Dupont connectors—to bring out up to three UARTs and the SWD debug pins of the RP2040—and a JST female 06SUR-to-grove cable with which to access over 80 I²C grove modules.

$55 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

About the Team

MDC-Service Wittenburg GmbH

Freiberg, Sachsen, Germany  ·  mdcservice

Creator of innovative products like electronic payments, laundry tracking and automation in various fields.

Michael Schmid

MDCservice

Steffen Wittenburg

See Also

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