wESP32

by Silicognition LLC

An ESP32-based board with wired Ethernet connectivity and power over Ethernet

Crowdfunding Page History

This page is an archive of the original crowdfunding campaign for this project. It may not be up-to-date with the latest updates and product availability. Return to the current project page.

$15,182 raised

of $2,000 goal

759% Funded! Order Below

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$5

Support wESP32

Thanks for helping power the wESP32 project!


$55

wESP32 Starter Kit

This kit contains one wESP32 and one wESP32-Prog module - everything you need to get started!


$45

Single wESP32

You will receive one wESP32 module.


$12

Single wESP32-Prog

You will receive one wESP32-Prog for your programming needs.


$210

wESP32 Five-pack

You will receive five wESP32 modules.


$400

wESP32 Ten-pack

You will receive ten wESP32 modules.


$45

wESP32 Starter Kit - Early Bird

This kit contains one wESP32 and one wESP32-Prog module - everything you need to get started, and a special early bird price to boot.

Details

Recent Updates


As Featured In

Hackster.io

"With 15 of the ESP32 GPIOs exposed, there's so much you can do with this... This looks like it'll be a pretty cool little board to work with."

CNXSoft - Embedded Systems News

"it’s always good to have more options and Silicongnition has designed another ESP32 board with power over Ethernet named wESP32."

HackSpace

"Ethernet is – perhaps surprisingly – a good choice for IoT as it’s much easier for devices to ‘just work’... if you’ve got a network in place, why not use it for your IoT?"

industriaembebidahoy

"Alimentada mediante PoE, esta placa microcontroladora para uso en red dispone de conexión por cable Ethernet, así como Wi-Fi para backup en caso de que haya problemas con la red cableada."

The wESP32 is an ESP32-based core board with wired Ethernet connectivity and power over Ethernet (PoE). It was designed to help you quickly create zero-setup, single-wire-installation network-connected devices. By combining a powerful microcontroller with excellent community support, 13 W of available power, reliable connectivity, and a compact footprint, the wESP32 gives you a head start in your next IoT design and lets you focus on your application.

wESP32 board front

wESP32 board back

Features & Specifications

  • Processor
  • Power
    • Default 12 V output setting for V+ provides 12.95+ W of power
    • Optional (bridge solder jumper) 5 V output setting for V+ provides 5 W of power
    • IEEE 802.3at Type 1 Class 0 compliant PoE
    • 3.3 V output with up to 6 W of power (taken from V+)
    • Support for applying external power to V+, in case PoE is unavailable
    • Support for powering via the wESP32-Prog USB port (limited to 5 V on V+)
    • Compatible with both PoE Mode A (power over data pairs) and PoE Mode B (power over spare pairs)
  • Connectivity
    • High-performance RJ-45 jack with optimized data path has excellent data throughput (iperf UDP scores up to 90 Mbit/s)
    • Ethernet auto-MDIX, allowing the use of both straight and cross-over Ethernet cables
    • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n is available as a back-up if Ethernet connectivity is unavailable
    • Bluetooth v4.2 BR/EDR (basic rate/enhanced data rate) and BLE (Bluetooth low energy)
  • Programming
    • Optional wESP32-Prog module for programming
    • USB serial console via same wESP32-Prog module
  • Expansion
    • 20-pin header footprint with 3.3 V, V+ power, and 15 of the ESP32 GPIOs available for your application
    • wESP32-Prog module can be plugged in as needed or permanently soldered
  • Physical Characteristics
    • Full data and power path isolation in compliance with the IEEE 802.3at 1500 Vrms isolation requirement
    • Compact 75 mm by 40 mm footprint with 4 mounting holes compatible with common M2.5 or 4-40 screws
    • High-quality PCB with two oz copper and mounting hole designed to sink heat away from the PoE PD controller for optimal thermal performance

wESP32-Prog module

wESP32 + Prog

Rationale

The idea for the wESP32 came from the following thought process:

  • If you want to connect an IoT device to a standard network, you need Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
  • Both Wi-Fi and Ethernet are power hungry. So if you use either of them you likely will need wall power.
  • If you need wall power, your “wireless” connected device suddenly becomes “wired” again.
  • From a reliability point of view, a wired Ethernet connection is more reliable than Wi-Fi, especially when you start to connect many devices to a network.
  • When it comes to setup, Ethernet is much simpler and more secure than Wi-Fi. With Wi-Fi, your IoT device needs a way to inject credentials to connect to the network. With Ethernet, you just plug it in and you’re securely connected.
  • Since you already need a wire for power, why not combine the two and just have a single wire for power and connectivity?
  • Ethernet wiring is low-voltage and can be done by anyone, while for wall wart power you need to hire a licensed electrician to install an outlet.

So, which is more convenient? Install Wi-Fi IoT devices all over your building each of which require an electrical outlet and network setup? Or get a PoE switch and install PoE Ethernet IoT devices all over your building, each just needing a single Cat-5 cable that anyone can install?

The answer, of course, is: it depends. Many buildings already have network cables running all over the place. In that case, the answer is easy. Also, if you’re doing a new installation, there’s no question that running Cat-5 is the way to go. If you have power already available but no Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi may be the easier option.

The wESP32 helps you out in both cases: it has both Ethernet with PoE and Wi-Fi, and can be powered from PoE or external power. This allows you to create a single IoT device that provides the best of both worlds, making your customers happy no matter what their situation is. If PoE is available, they can use that. If not, they can use Wi-Fi as a backup.

Compatibility

The wESP32 was created to work with power sourcing equipment (PSE) compliant with the IEEE 802.3af and 802.3at PoE standards. It is not compatible with 12 V or 24 V so-called “passive PoE” systems on the market, but requires a minimum voltage of 37 V as per the IEEE specification. Category 3 or higher rated cable is required.

While cost may be somewhat higher for standards-compliant equipment, it is preferable because a lot of thought was put in to the standards by industry experts to ensure the equipment works well and is safe, not just in bench or lab settings, but also in actual production installations. Transmitting power over long runs of wire is just not compatible with low 12 V or 24 V line voltages and devices lacking isolation, and the fact that these non-compliant, hackish solutions exist unfortunately results in customer confusion.

It should be noted that since the wESP32 is powered from a third party device over a potentially long cable, across possibly a large number of connecting points, performance in reaching the specified 12.95 W of power is not solely dependent on the wESP32 itself but also on many external factors.

Comparisons

There are plenty of ESP32 boards on the market. Very few have Ethernet. Even fewer have PoE. I only consider the competition to be boards with both Ethernet and PoE. The only actual competitor I know of is the ESP32-POE board from Olimex.

Depending on what you need, the ESP32-POE board from Olimex may have some advantages:

  • It’s a little smaller, but if you consider how far the Ethernet jack and ESP32 stick out, the wESP32 is only 30% larger.
  • It has a microSD card slot on board (1-bit SD mode).
  • It has a LiPo battery charger on board, though I’m not sure what the use case for this is on a PoE board.
  • It has programming hardware and USB on board. This could be a pro if you need USB UART in production, however, due to lack of isolation, it may not be practically usable.

On the other hand, the Olimex board has some major cons compared to the wESP32, especially for those who want a PoE board for commercial installations:

  • No isolation. The IEEE 802.3at spec demands isolation up to 1500 Vrms and the product page of the Olimex ESP32-POE specifically mentions that there is no isolation and that you should not have Ethernet and USB plugged in simultaneously. On the other hand, the wESP32 is designed to meet the spec and is fully isolated in the data and power path, providing safety and reliability in all situations.
  • Olimex provides no specification on available output power. The inductor specified in the schematic is specified for a maximum of 2 A, which, at 5 V, would limit the available power to a maximum of 10 W. The classification resistor in the schematic would indicate 12.95 W max, but between the power inductor limits and the lack of cooling features on the circuit board, achieving this output power is very unlikely. The wESP32 on the other hand makes it possible in practice to provide the necessary heat sinking and 12 V output to be able to actually deliver 12.95 W as specified by IEEE 802.3at Type 1 Class 0.
  • Olimex uses the CH340 for programming, which is really undesirable. My friend’s Macbook got bricked by trying to install the driver for this device. The wESP32-Prog uses the very well supported Silicon Labs CP2102N instead.

In short, the wESP32 was designed to provide a solid foundation of power, processing, and connectivity that can be used in commercial installations, and omits everything that can be considered application specific, such as the SD card and USB connector (though both can still be added if desired). The idea is for the customer to make a small add-on board that plugs into the GPIO to add what they need for their application.

Due to its lack of isolation, the Olimex board is completely unsuitable for commercial installation and belongs firmly in the realm of hobby boards. Even then, you need to be careful not to accidentally fry something when you connect to local devices by USB or other connections.

wESP32 + Prog board

wESP32-Prog

To be able to program the ESP32 on the wESP32, we created the wESP32-Prog submodule. It is a tiny module with micro USB, based on the well-supported Silicon Labs CP2102N, and includes the ESP32 auto-programming circuitry so that the circuitry doesn’t need to be duplicated on every target board and no buttons need to be pushed for programming.

The wESP32-Prog can be used both as an ESP32 programmer and as a USB serial terminal during development or in production as needed. Since the wESP32 provides full data path and power path isolation, the user can safely have the USB connected to their PC while the Ethernet cable is plugged in to the wESP32.

The wESP32-Prog was not just created as a bench tool but can be permanently installed in deployed wESP32 units by inserting it into the programming port and soldering the connections, thus becoming a permanent part of the wESP32. It may be necessary to clip the pins off after soldering if they are too long.

If the user does not need this port in deployed units, the staggered programming port footprint on the wESP32 allows the wESP32-Prog to be temporarily friction-fitted just for programming. Note that continued pressure may be necessary to ensure good contact during programming, for this reason it is recommended to permanently solder the wESP32-Prog to a wESP32 that is used for development.

There is nothing special or proprietary about the wESP32-Prog, other than that it was created specifically to be suitable for production use. So if you already own another ESP32 programmer, you can use it with the wESP32 as well. Note, however, that since there are so many variables and places where things could go wrong when using your own programmer, we only offer customer support if you are using a wESP32-Prog. If you use your own programmer, you’re assumed to know what you’re doing and you’re on your own!

Manufacturing Plan

We already have parts for 230 wESP32 boards. These can be shipped before the end of the year. During the campaign, we will monitor demand and place orders for the next batch as needed. As usual, Colorado Tech Shop provides professional assembly.

wESP32 production panels

Note that the campaign pictures were taken from prototypes, the production units shipped to backers will look like the picture above.

Shipping & Fulfillment

Crowd Supply will be shipping all orders from their warehouse in Portland, Oregon. For more information on shipping and fulfillment logistics, see The Crowd Supply Guide. You can see the status of your order by logging in to your Crowd Supply account.

Risks & Challenges

The biggest risk is delays due to component shortages. MLCC capacitors are especially in short supply. As mentioned above, we already have parts for the first batch of 230 units. Beyond that, we anticipate being able to deliver a second batch of boards before March 2019.

Support & Documentation

Demos


Credits

Silicognition LLC

Silicognition LLC is an electronic design services company that focuses on deeply embedded, IoT and low power systems.


Patrick Van Oosterwijck

Dixon Chan Dick


Colorado Tech Shop

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