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Best board for my project?
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Best board for my project?

by tastewar on Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:59 am

I have a project in mind that is essentially a clock, and I'm looking for recommendations for the "best" CircuitPython or uPython board for it. The display will be using NeoPixels, so need to support that. Also, it needs WiFi connectivity, to be able to pull in a configuration file, and to periodically check and update the time. Finally, a real time clock.

Thus far, I've been working with a Feather HUZZAH ESP8266, which for my purposes requires an external RTC module and a 3.3V to 5V level shifter. Neither of those is particularly onerous, but if there was one board that did it all, *and* which supported CircuitPython, that would be awesome. Nothing at all against uPython; I just have a slight preference for Adafruit's offering.

Seems not unlikely that the ESP8266 is still my best bet, but thought I'd ask. Thanks for any constructive input!

tastewar
 
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Re: Best board for my project?

by dastels on Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:28 am

Have a look at the AirLift LIte products for wifi capabilities. There is a metro M4 (UNO footprint) with builtin airlift, a Metro shield, a FeatherWing, an ItsyBitsy addon board, and a standalone breakout. Neopixel support aren't a problem. If you have a lot of them you will need more power for them. And if you are powering them with 5v, you'll need a level shifter on the data line to use them with a 3.3v MCU board (i.e. anything that will run CircuitPython). Your choice will depend on physical constraints as well.

One approach is an MetroM4 Airlift with a prototyping shield upon which you could mount an RTC brekaout, level shifter, and other bit you might want.

Another would be a FeatherM4Express (or Feather nRF52840 if you wanted bluetooth as well), and wing/breakouts for AirLift and RTC... and something for the level shifter: wither a bit of perfboard/permaproto or prototyping wing. If you went with wings you could stack them or (better?) use the tripler or one of the quad-feather/wing boards. The feather+breakouts approach gives you the most physical flexibility

So TL;DR I don't think there's a single board that provides everything you need.

Dave

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Re: Best board for my project?

by tastewar on Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:10 pm

Thanks for all the info, Dave! You reminded me about Wings, and there appear to be two that would be very useful. First is the DS3231 RTC wing, and the other is the NeoPXL8, because that's cheap and includes the level shifter! I was looking at a level shifting wing by Evil Genius Labs, but that one costs $25 assembled, so for my purposes, the Adafruit one is a better deal.

I should be able to sandwich those 2 wings with my current Feather, if I solder stacking headers to the wings, right?

tastewar
 
Posts: 365
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Re: Best board for my project?

by dastels on Tue Dec 31, 2019 2:49 pm

You are correct. Stacking headers will let you do this. An alternative would be a tripler which (especially if you use the short feather headers) would result in a thinner, although with more area, circuit. https://www.adafruit.com/product/3417

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Re: Best board for my project?

by tastewar on Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:57 pm

Hmm... My projects move slowly. But I now have both those Wings, and I'm looking around, and I may be missing something but... it would appear as though the NeoPXL8 is not compatible with the Feather HUZZAH ESP8266. Is that correct? I don't need support for a lot of NeoPixels (32), so I imagine that part is pretty straightforward -- I have a test strip of 23 which works fine), but I was hoping to leverage the level shifter on that Wing. I don't suppose there's a way to (easily...) interface with just that and bypass the rest, is there? Alternatively, would the Prop-Maker FeatherWing (3988) do what I need? Looks like it's compatible with the ESP8266, but is it MicroPython compatible?

tastewar
 
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Re: Best board for my project?

by dastels on Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 pm

The PropMaker Wing just uses some digital pins on the feather, I2C, and A0 for audio output. So it will work with anything that can manipulate them. It certainly works with CircuitPython, so I can't see that it wouldn't be fine with MicroPython.

Dave

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Re: Best board for my project?

by tastewar on Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:41 am

Thanks -- I will give it a try!

tastewar
 
Posts: 365
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:16 am

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.