The EsPiFF board combines an ESP32 module and an RP2040 MCU in a Raspberry Pi 4 form factor (crowdfunding)

The EsPiFF board combines an ESP32 module and an RP2040 MCU in a Raspberry Pi 4 form factor (crowdfunding)

The EsPiFF board may look like a Raspberry Pi 4 Linux SBC but it is equipped with an ESP32-WROVER WiFi and Bluetooth module along with a Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller that acts as a co-processor.

The goal here is to provide a Raspberry Pi 4 alternative for applications that require higher reliability and even 24/7 operation without necessarily requiring the processing power and multimedia capabilities of the Pi’s Broadcom BCM2711 Arm processor or the versatility of a Linux operating system.

EsPiFF Board Specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROVER Module with ESP32-D0WDQ6 Dual-Core Microcontroller with 2.4GHz WiFi 4, Bluetooth, 8MB PSRAM, 16MB Flash
  • Co-Processor – Raspberry Pi RP2040 Dual-Core Cortex-M0 + Microcontroller up to 133MHz with 16MB Flash used to emulate the Raspberry Pi’s GPIOs on a 40-pin header
  • Extra storage space
    • 2 kb fast FRAM For permanent storage of process data. (faster alternative to EEPROM)
    • 8 Mbit ISSI Flash
    • Unpopulated footprint of 512Mb ISSI flash
    • MicroSD card socket
  • Monitor – HMI connector for TFT monitors eg The series Nextion.
  • Connection
    • 10/100M Ethernet over IP101 PHY which is said to have better stability than the widely used LAN8720, at least when connected to ESP32.
    • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi (ESP32) with U.FL external antenna
  • USB
    • 1x USB Type A host port
    • USB Type-C port for power and programming (via CH340 USB-UART chip)
  • expansion
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi connector compatible with HATs up to 100MHz I/Os
    • Up to 3x UART via header f DF11 connectors
  • Debug – JTAG header is unpopulated for developers
  • Miscellaneous
    • RTC chip with built-in supercap
    • guard
    • BOOT button for RP2040 MCU to switch between USB and USB Host/Device programming
    • Reset button and 3 user LEDs for ESP32
  • power supply –
  • Dimensions – Almost the same as the Raspberry Pi Model B boards.

ESPIFF board layoutI can already see some readers throwing their hands in the air or doing a facelift before starting to write a comment complaining about putting the ESP32-WROVER module on the board because it would interfere with the operation of the PCB antenna, but we were told the Raspberry form factor was supposed to be kept Pi to be able to reuse existing Pi enclosures and an external u.FL antenna is included in the kit.

ESP32 and RP2040 microcontrollers communicate via SPI or UART, and by default, the board comes with NutX RTOSwhich I recently graduated as High level Apache project, but you can program it with ESP-IDF, Arduino and other ESP32 development tools. Raspberry Pi RP2040 powering on Firmata Firmware currently only supports UART communication, and work is done on SPI. You will find more technical details at Github repository for the board including KiCad schematics and PCB layout, as well as firmware source code.

ESPIFF HMI board
HMI example based on a previous version of the EsPIFF board, 5″ Nextion display, RFID reader, and 3D printed enclosure

Some use cases where the EsPiFF board may be a better fit than the more powerful Raspberry Pi board, including human-machine interfaces, outdoor applications where the board can be placed in a water- or air-tight container without worrying about overheating, home and industrial automation installations, and More.

MDC-Service Wittenburg GmbH has launched the EsPIFF Board of Directors supplying the masses With a goal of $2,250. The only bonus is the $55 EsPiFF with all required cables. Shipping adds $8 to the US, $18 to the rest of the world, and backers expect their franchises to ship in April 2023.

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