Curious copies: ESP32 handicraft boards disguised as micro: bit and arduino uno

Curious copies: ESP32 handicraft boards disguised as micro: bit and arduino uno

The Sinovoip company is best known for the Raspi competitors of the Banana Pi series, which are produced in cooperation with Foxconn.With the two ESP32-based boards, the manufacturer now stamps the banana pi logo on radio-compatible microcontrollers.


The BPI: Bit baptized board is like a BBC micro: bit at first glance.However, the similarity is purely external: both have rounded corners and a contact bar on the edge with five striking, oversized contacts.The hardware built on the board, on the other hand, does not have much in common with the model.

An ESP-Wroom 32 module ensures the main functions.It represents both the microcontroller and WLAN (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth (BLE) ready.Programming via PC is possible via Micro-USB.A CH340 is used as a bridge chip, which requires the installation of drivers under Windows.

The matrix

A 5 x 5 LED matrix ensures a little more optical abnormality. Wo beim Micro:Bit lediglich rote LEDs verbaut sind, versucht das Banana-bit sich mit Vollfarben abzuheben.The RGB LEDs are of the WS2812B known in Maker Circles-they are connected in series via a data bus and can be addressed individually.

    Kuriose Kopien: ESP32-Bastelboards verkleidet als Micro:Bit und Arduino Uno

However, the play of colors has its price.The current consumption of a maximum light WS2812B LED is 60 milliamers, so that the LEDs alone can theoretically need 1.5 amps-for most USB ports on the laptop or PC, that's too much.

Other components on the board: two programmable buttons, a temperature sensor, two brightness sensors, a movement sensor (MPU-9250) and a summer.A battery connection serves the alternative power supply and receives 3.5 to 4.2 volts.

The same in blue

The other board is called BPI-Uno32.The technical basis is the same with ESP-Wroom-32 and CH340, but the sensors and LEDs are missing here.As the name "Uno" already suggests, the circuit board layout is based on the Arduino Uno.

The combination of ESP32 and Arduino form factor is not a novelty.On the one hand, there are boards that combine the ESP with other microcontrollers, such as z.B.The Fluowifi or the RISC-V-based Arduino Cinque.On the other hand, there are pure ESP32 solutions under terms such as "Espduino-32" or "Wemos D1 R32", which are available for less than 10 euros.However, it is unclear whether it is actually the products of the printed brands.

How does it work?

The manufacturer markets the boards with the keyword "Webduino".The Board's firmware connects to the web service based in Taiwan and thus enables programming over the Internet.There is the visual editor Blockly, which generates JavaScript.Outside of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, webduino does not currently work according to Sinovoip.

So you have to help yourself in this country.Since these are break-out boards for the ESP32, the usual tools for the platform should work.This includes the Arduino IDE or Micropython.

The BPI: bit for almost $ 20, the BPI-Uno32 for almost $ 13.The supply chain does not seem to have a grip on Sinovoip yet.So the BPI: Bit disappeared from the manufacturer's aliexpress shop after the start of sales.When asked, however, we were assured that the board was available.(DAB)