Obsidian ESP32

by Thomas McKahan

An ESP32 in a Raspberry Pi Form Factor

View all updates Jul 18, 2019

Uses and software

As with any device, the primary question is: What can I use it for? Reviewing a few projects and packages that currently work or can easily work with Obsidian ESP32.

As an ESP32 based board, there is a wide range of software out in the world that works on various purpose-built platforms, and on hardware you build yourself. I like to build things, as might be noticed from the campaign, the work with Armbian, and my Twitter feed (@tonymac_32). That said, sometimes I don’t want the hardware design to get in the way of the problem solving, and would prefer a design flexible enough to handle many different tasks. That’s why I chose the form factor, it allows for both high-quality commercial hardware for peripherals, and a large enough space to make reasonable prototypes on a proto hat, many of which are available.

Currently working:

These are some software packages and examples successfully run on the Obsidian ESP32 board, more can be found as added on the site mentioned in the previous update.

MicroPython

Everyone should be somewhat acquainted with this one, it is Python for microcontrollers, very good support for the ESP32, and comes pre-packaged on the Obsidian ESP32 board.

Ka-Radio32

This one may not be the first choice for many, but I get excited when a microcontroller outputs a quality audio stream. Ka-Radio32 tunes into Shoutcast internet radio servers and provides output either through the on-board TRS jack, or via a simple Raspberry Pi DAC HAT like the Pimoroni PHAT DAC or the Adafruit 3W Stereo Bonnet shown below

Micro dot phat

An Arduino IDE project, this is a simple demo of the Pimoroni Micro Dot PHAT on an Obsidian ESP32, implementing an NTP clock. Code

Work in progress:

These are projects that need some hardware that is either not readily available or has not been tried specifically with either the Obsidian ESP32 board or the ESP32, however should work fine with a little effort, currently ongoing

LoRa Hat

LoRa is a low-power wide area network used for the Internet of Things (official buzzword). Coupled with a raspberry Pi battery backup on the Obsidian ESP32 board, it can provide wireless updates and messages from quite some distance. I’m working on bringing my gateway online (using a single-board computer) to really test this out.

FabGL

FabGL is an awesome VGA graphics library with PS/2 keyboard and mouse support. While the interfaces may be a bit outdated, it provides the ESP32 with the means to easily display data “on the big screen”, even providing a library for a windowed interface and an unmistakably retro feel. I have designed a HAT that is in fab as you read this (July 18th), and will post more on it as it progresses. For now, check out the library demo videos

ESP32 GRBL

GRBL is a well-known software for Arduino Uno compatibles that controls most (if not virtually all) low-cost CNC’s. This project is a port to the ESP32, and, as I want to upgrade my CNC, I plan on developing a hat to support this code as well. It will, as the VGA & PS/2 hat above, be open source.


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Obsidian ESP32

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Credits

Thomas McKahan

Thomas is a long-time software and hardware tinkerer, beginning with Apple BASIC and 555 timers and working up to embedded Linux and system design. Having started out during a time where hardware was more difficult to obtain, the current open-source community is a breath of fresh air.


Thomas McKahan

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