ESP32s and Python and more

An edifying weekend saw me looking at a whole load of ESP32 based boards – The WiPy 2.0, the Sparkfun ESP32 Thing and the Huzzah32… and in turn a whole set of MicroPython variants… MicroPython is a shrunk down Python 3 for embedded devices and it can fit in some pretty small spaces – there’s a version for the MicroBit even. Anyway, I wanted to find out if I could do a particular projects proof of concept using MicroPython. Let battle commence…

First up was – Pycom’s MicroPython for the WiPy 2.0 is well packaged and relatively complete; it includes RTC support and enough other drivers that I was able to build my proof of concept device. The VS Code integration was neatly done and so much more useful than previous attempts… But the board is literally just the processor. Supply power on the pins and bring your own USB or use their expansion boards. That was already bumping the costs up…. before I went further prototyping (as the rig was already syncing clocks, reading RFID cards and posting to REST endpoints) I thought I’d have a look around.

Next up was Adafruit’s Huzzah32 Feather.

It’s a lovely little Feather board – I do like the Feather form factor and with the new Express boards bringing CircuitPython into play things look interesting. CircuitPython is Adafruit’s fork which tries to simplify the whole thing with embedded hardware where lots of physical features turn into code for particular boards and stop things being portable. Great idea. Turns out the Huzzah32 doesn’t have a CircuitPython port yet though… CircuitPython is an interesting fork but it needs a target board with a bit of WiFi. The Huzzah32 does have the USB and LiPoly support so theoretically it could run MicroPython… let’s try straight MicroPython on an ESP32…

Specifically, lets go back to MicroPython and run from the fork for ESP32. This was to run on the Sparkfun ESP32 Thing, which is a super practical hacking board at a decent price and complete with USB and LiPo battery support. It’s not a small board, but it’s easy to shoehorn in. Then there’s the current MicroPython for ESP32 – like pretty much every API for the ESP32 it’s a work in progress, but this work in progress hurt hardest when I found no RTC clock support in MicroPython at the moment.

The weird part is… writing the Python code was pretty plain sailing for this embedded environment, so I’m guessing it can only get better.

Meanwhile for the proof of concept project…. Heading back to the Arduino framework was no less fruitful. Again, missing RTC support lead the problem set. So I’m back on the WiPy 2.0 to finish the PoC and wondering if I really want to get all C++y to use the Espressif native tool chain. At least there’s be no lack of drivers…

But, and I didn’t think I’d say this…. but I cant wait for Python to harden up in the embedded space.

Pi GPIO on USB – It’s neat….

Just popped in a pre-order for RyanTech’s latest. It’s a board with a 40 pin Pi header, USB connector and software for Pixel, Linux, OSX and other operating systems which lets you drive it like a Pi’s GPIO header. There’s just so many neat things you can do with this card. It’ll let you hang that neat Pi Hat off your PC simply. It’ll let you double up your Pi’s GPIO capability.

It’s up for pre-order on Indiegogo after a successful kickstarter campaign and is looking well progressed towards getting to market. At £10 a board, it’s an easy pick – Me, I ordered five.

(And Happy New Year to all… lets see if I can keep this up 😁)

Here comes 2017 and…

Well, 2017 is days away and it’s time to make some decisions about this blog. The options are simple, shut it down and make a new personal blog in the style of Codescaling, or carry on here just reworking the site as my personal space. To be honest the latter option seems to be cheapest and most effective, so….

Codescaling is deaded, long live Codescaling.

I’ll be working on a new about page along with some new posts about what’s been in my recent makery builds (Z80 boards, Orange Pi, Linkit 7655 and more) and HackWimbledon bits and crosspostings from the day job at Compose and… well, we’ll see.