4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

The ESP32 is a System on Chip (SoC) designed by Espressifs systems that can be used to add both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality to projects. It is ideal for the development of mobile devices, IoT applications and wearable electronics due to its wireless capabilities and smart power management among other features. Since the ESP32 SoC comes in the form of a surface mount chip or module, it is not easy to use for prototyping in its barebones state. That is why it is advisable to use an ESP32 breakout board when developing your projects.

To access all the features on the ESP32, one must have access to all its pins. The ESP32 breakout boards make this possible by providing a breadboard-friendly pin configuration that developers can use to easily interface the ESP32 with other devices and components. In addition to this, the breakout boards provide all additional circuitry that the ESP32 needs to function. All these things expedite the prototype development process, reducing the cost and time it takes to build a project using the ESP32 SoC.

This ESP32 breakout board review will analyze several popular ESP32 breakout boards that are available in the market. It will also provide an insight into what to look for when selecting a breakout board. With this information, you will be able to purchase an ESP32 board that serves all your needs.

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4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

The HiLetgo ESP-32S is a superb development board for IoT projects. The board is built around the ESP-WROOM-32 System on Chip (SoC) and has all the supporting circuitry needed for the ESP32 chip to run. It fits snugly onto a breadboard giving you access to all the pins for faster project development.

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4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

The Makerfocus ESP32 DevKit is a low-footprint, system development board based on the ESP-WROOM-32 SoC. It comes with the basic support circuitry for the ESP-WROOM-32, which makes powering and programming of the board an easy task. All you need to do is mount it on a bread board and you are good to go.

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4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

The Sparkfun ESP32 thing is a development platform for the ESP32 SoC. It has the basic Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless capabilities that the ESP32 SoC provides as well as a USB-UART interface and a Lipo battery charging circuit. With these features, you can easily program and set up a remote battery-powered IoT device.

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4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

The HiLetgo ESP-32S is a superb development board for IoT projects. The board is built around the ESP-WROOM-32 System on Chip (SoC) and has all the supporting circuitry needed for the ESP32 chip to run. It fits snugly onto a breadboard giving you access to all the pins for faster project development.

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The HiLetgo ESP-32S is a superb development board for IoT projects. The board is built around the ESP-WROOM-32 System on Chip (SoC) and has all the supporting circuitry needed for the ESP32 chip to run. It fits snugly onto a breadboard giving you access to all the pins for faster project development.

The Makerfocus ESP32 DevKit is a low-footprint, system development board based on the ESP-WROOM-32 SoC. It comes with the basic support circuitry for the ESP-WROOM-32, which makes powering and programming of the board an easy task. All you need to do is mount it on a bread board and you are good to go.

The Sparkfun ESP32 thing is a development platform for the ESP32 SoC. It has the basic Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless capabilities that the ESP32 SoC provides as well as a USB-UART interface and a Lipo battery charging circuit. With these features, you can easily program and set up a remote battery-powered IoT device.

The HiLetgo ESP-32S is a superb development board for IoT projects. The board is built around the ESP-WROOM-32 System on Chip (SoC) and has all the supporting circuitry needed for the ESP32 chip to run. It fits snugly onto a breadboard giving you access to all the pins for faster project development.

What to look for in ESP32 Breakout Boards

There are several things that you should check for when purchasing an ESP32 breakout board. One of those things is the pin configuration of the board. To be able to utilize all the features of the ESP32 chip you need access to all its pins. Therefore, confirm whether the pin spacing and layout of the breakout board are compatible with the rails of a breadboard. In other words, is the pin configuration breadboard-friendly?

Another thing to check out for is the additional circuitry on the board. The ESP32 chip needs some extra circuitry for it to be programmed and powered successfully. This circuitry is usually available on the breakout board. You should make sure that the ESP32 breakout board has a USB-to-UART interface, a voltage regulation circuit and access to the reset and boot features preferably via pushbuttons.

Those are some of the considerations you should make when selecting an ESP32 board. If your breakout board meets the above requirements you will be assured of a fast and successful project development process.

4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

The ESP32-DevKitC is the official ESP32 development board made by Espressifs. The board features an ESP-WROOM-32 module and several other support features such as a USB-UART bridge, USB port, voltage regulator and reset and boot buttons. All these features make it an all-rounded standalone board that you can use for your rapid prototyping needs.

There are 38 pins available on this ESP32 breakout board. Five of those pins are power pins and comprise of 3 GND pins, a 5V pin and a 3.3V pin. Through these pins you can power peripheral devices that you want to use in your setup, such as sensors, actuators and other microcontroller boards.  

The rest of the pins are GPIO and control pins. Using those pins, you can access all the peripheral features that the ESP32 offers, such as 12-bit ADC, 8-bit DAC, touch sensors, SPI, I2C, UART and CAN among several others. This way you will be able to access the full potential of the board. Although the ESP32-DevKitC breakout board fits on a breadboard, it only leaves one row of holes on one side. This limits you to only use the pins on that side of the board for prototyping.

Programming this board can be done via the Arduino IDE. Most of the features such as i2C, SPI and analog data sampling works in the Arduino platform as well as controlling most sensors and displays. However, to utilize the boards, full potential you should use the Tensilica toolchain also known as ESP IDF, since the board is intended to be programmed with it.

4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

The Makerforcus ESP32 DevKit is an ESP-WROOM-32 based breakout board designed to provide Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi radio solutions. It comes with all the basic support circuitry from the ESP32 SoC, which enables you to get right into designing the application, instead of concentrating on other things such as antenna design and USB communication. This reduces the time spent building prototypes.

The support circuitry for this breakout board includes, CH340 USB-UART Bridge, LDO voltage regulator, buttons for reset and boot functions and a micro-USB connector. The voltage regulator provides 3.3V supply that is used by the ESP32 SoC and can also be used to power other peripheral devices or components that operate on a similar voltage. Also, thanks to USB-UART interface the board can be programmed directly without having to press the reset and boot buttons.

Setting up the Makerforcus ESP32 breakout board is an easy process. Its pin layout is compatible with breadboards and programming is done directly via a USB cable. So all you need to do is mount the breakout board onto a bread board and plug in the USB cable. However, if you want to connect other peripheral devices or components to the breakout board pins, you may have to use an extra breadboard. This is because the Makerfocus ESP32 breakout board is very wide and completely covers the breadboard rails, leaving no space for you to connect jumper wires to its pins.

4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

Sparkfun ESP32 thing is a breakout board designed by Sparkfun electronics for the ESP32 SoC. It is an ideal board for the development of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled prototypes. The ESP32 thing has all the required circuitry on-board to aid in the programming of the ESP32 SoC and interfacing of other peripheral devices to it.

USB to UART interfacing is achieved with an FTDI231x chip, allowing easy programming of the ESP32 chip. There is also a reset and boot button that can be used when flashing new firmware onto the ESP32 chip. Prototyping is further made simpler by the breadboard-friendly pin configuration. Even after mounting the ESP32 thing onto a breadboard, you will be left with two empty rows of breadboard rails on either side of the ESP32 thing. This allows easy access to the pins when interfacing with other devices and components.

The ESP32 Thing also comes with a Lipo battery charging circuit and connector. A Lipo battery can be connected to the board to provide power especially if the device is to be installed in a remote location. The charging circuit charges the connected battery whenever a USB cable is plugged onto the board. Due to the ESP32 low power consumption and sleep mode capability, the thing would be able to last for a long time on battery power. Also, batteries with a larger capacity can be used to achieve longer battery life in remote devices. Thanks to this feature, the ESP32 thing can be used to create a truly wireless device.

4 ESP32 Breakout Boards Reviewed

Hiletgo ESP-32S breakout board is designed to offer embedded system developers access to all the features of the ESP-WROOM-32 SoC. You can use it to build prototypes for projects that require Bluetooth connection or projects based on the Internet of Things. It is ideal for professionals as well as beginners since it is easy to setup and program, thanks to the additional essential components that it comes with.   

Interfacing the HiLetgo ESP-32S breakout board with other devices and peripherals is an easy task. This is because of its breadboard-friendly pin configuration. When mounted on a breadboard, the ESP-32S leaves an empty row on either side of the board, providing access to all of its pins. On the down side, due to its smaller size, the pin numbers are provided on the bottom part of the board. So, it is not easy for one to identify the pin numbers when the ESP-32S is mounted on a breadboard.

Programming of the ESP-32S board is done via a USB cable, thanks to the CP2102 USB Bridge that is available on the board. The board can be programmed using NodeMCU Lua and there are several resources provided to guide you on how to get started. The resources provide information on how to build for ESP32, flashing firmware, schematics and the Lua SDK. These resources are provided by the company that has designed the ESP-32S breakout board. This saves time that would have been spent searching online for resources.

ESP32 Breakout Board: Our #1 Pick

The HiLetgo ESP32 Development Board was our number 1 pick. The first reason for selecting the ESP-32S board as the ideal breakout board is its pin configuration. Though its pin numbers are not labeled on the top side of the board, the ESP-32S is slimmer than the rest of the boards and leaves enough space on the breadboard to connect jumper wires for prototyping.

In addition to that, there are resources provided by the company that manufactures the HiLetgo ESP-32S breakout boards. The resources guide you on how to get started when using the ESP-32S and provide examples that you can learn from. Therefore, if you are a beginner or professional looking for an ESP32 breakout board to use in your project, grab yourself a HiLetgo ESP-32S breakout board and begin to change the world.

Leave a Comment

Arend a month ago
Thanks for the article. What I would be most interested in is free gpio ports. My biggest issue with esp32 and esp8266 is the lack of truly free gpio ports. Prototyping can quickly become a pain when you run out of ports and have to configure shared gpio's. Suddenly you can no longer just flash because you use a gpio shared with tx or rx, or your gpio needs a pull down to boot properly, but you have a temp sensor connected to it.
Reply
Marco Schwartz Arend 13 hours ago
Hi, that's a good point, and for sure the ESP32 helps in this case. Maybe also consider using multiplexers if you need more ports :) 
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