Description: The SparkFun ESP32 Thing is a comprehensive development platform for Espressif’s ESP32, their super-charged version of the popular ESP8266. Like the 8266, the ESP32 is a WiFi-compatible microcontroller, but to that it adds support for Bluetooth low-energy (i.e BLE, BT4.0, Bluetooth Smart), and nearly 30 I/O pins. The ESP32’s power and versatility will make it the foundation of IoT and connected projects for many years to come.
Why the name? We lovingly call it the “Thing” because it’s the perfect foundation for your Internet of Things project. The Thing does everything from turning on an LED to posting data with phant.io, and can be programmed just like any microcontroller. You can even program the Thing through the Arduino IDE by installing the ESP32 Arduino Core.
The SparkFun ESP32 Thing equips the ESP32 with everything necessary to program, run and develop on the wonderchip. In addition to the WiFi/BLE SoC, the Thing includes an FTDI FT231x, which converts USB to serial, and allows your computer to program and communicate with the microcontroller. It also features a LiPo charger, so your ESP32 project can be battery-powered and truly wireless. Additionally, the board includes a handful of LEDs and buttons to aid in your development.
Based on 28 ratings:
2 of 2 found this helpful:
Even before I received this little piece of beauty I was blown away by its capabilities, reading over all the documentation. Clearly way much more than the ESP8266. With the onboard FTDI, automatic reset mechanism and the extra battery charger, it is an easy-to-handle IoT Thing. The SW side is also great. Following the steps, the esp-idf setup was done quickly (I have a Linux), and setting up a project also took me a few minutes. Then “make flash” and without touching anything, the code is upladed and the board resets. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and that it worked for the first try. Nothing ever works for the first try. :) I won’t use Arduino IDE for this. It is far away from an Arduino, and the guys working on the vitrual core will have a tough time. If you want to use it with the Arduino IDE, please be patient. Otherwise use the esp-idf, which is growing fast, and many things are already there.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I placed several orders for ESP32 based boards, Sparkfun shipped this in just a few days. Still waiting for the rest. It works just fine, and I especially appreciate the LiPo support circuitry. I don’t use the Arduino IDE and could care less about it – the “idf” (new name for the sdk?) for C programming works great.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
After many tries and being utterly frustrated with it I returned it. May provide great features but not the easiest thing to set up.
1 of 3 found this helpful:
On Windows 10 the instructions on how to make it work in Arduino simply does not work. The phython get.py (using python 2.7) gets SSL errors and simply does not do anything. Searched for solutions but found none.
Managed to get things going on Mac OS.
However things are not rosy here either: The bootloader does not activate unless you press reset in a very precise moment (but it is not documented exactly when). I only succeed in uploading things once every 20 times from Arduino IDE. Also then a second reset is needed to have the program run. This should improve and should be done all by the software.
Also: still not clear how to make the BT and dual processors run.
This looks like it could be a very interesting product, the hardware looks great. However the software tools are simply not working as well as they should.
Yes, the environment for this is still very young, and all feedback is appreciated. I would suggest contacting our Tech Support Team, and see if there are solutions yet for the issues your experiencing.
1 of 6 found this helpful:
Hardware stable and very helpfull for first steps into the ESP32. But the setup for the programming is not professional. Why is it not possible to sell a working IDE. Really, i can’t understand why even the supplier doesn’t deliver a professional IDE.
0 of 1 found this helpful:
Hi- So support found a fix for me today. I was able to upload my first program, however after that, I was stuck. It would error out during the program upload process. The fix is to wire PIN 0 to GND, then flash your code. Once code is uploaded, pull the wire from PIN 0 to GND and hit the RESET button. When you hit RESET, your code will execute.
Hope this helped someone else. Sparkfun tech support was great for helping me to get this working! Hopefully changes to the Arduino IDE component will be made that alleviate this a bit.
GPIO pins 6-11 are missing. Why not add 3 pins to each side of the board so you get all of the GPIO? Also, pin 2 is listed as GPIO21 in esp32-thing-graphical-datasheet-v02.png and it is really GPIO2. The same datasheet doesn’t list all of the functions for each pin (e.g. ethernet, rtcio).
Trying to get toolchain going has not gone well. Even got a real Expressif dev board and followed their instructions but still getting build errors. Tried to register with them for questions but they have yet to approve my access to their support forums - after a week.
Now I’m very technical and could roll up my sleeves but not having available support at your back eventually fails - been there, done that. This is a great little device if only I could dev for the thing… BTW I don’t mean in debugger-less environment but something real along the lines of atmel studio.
The board is fantastic– the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is the micro USB port comes off very easily; so keep an FTDI cable handy in case (mine came off the second time I unplugged it.
Now the SDK, which really has no bearing on the quality of the product. The Arduino core isn’t ready to use the full features of the chip. I’d recommend using the ESP Programming Guide (https://esp-idf.readthedocs.io/en/latest/index.html), which allows you to use all the features. But it is a lot to process, so set aside some time.
Overall, the board itself is pretty great! Just keep in mind the platform is under active development.
Sorry to hear about the micro USB port coming off. We’ll be happy to send you a replacement of you’d like, just get in touch with our tech support team, and they’ll hook you up. Happy Hacking!
A really cool board. Here is how I used mine. https://github.com/Ebiroll/esp32_ultra The software is still work in progress but already usable.
Early in the development phase for this product so you can expect some teething problems with the software IDE. Arduino support is sort of there but as others have said you need to reset it sometimes during load.
I have it running with WiFi and ST7735 LCD and looking good.
I’ve just started using the “thing”, but so far have not had any problems installing the arduino core and getting the “hello world” script working on Win 10 pro 64 bit. Looking forward to when the analog support (in/out) is working. Thanks for a nice piece of h/w!
I ordered two of these units. Just now I discovered one of them is dead on arrival.
Sorry to hear that. Please contact our tech support team, they’ll be able to help you resolve the issue.
0 of 1 found this helpful:
Everything about this is not ready for prime time. Crashes, incomplete documentation - (even down to the chip itself) - poor example code, etc. code is in a total state of flux. I think this needs more time to settle out before really being usable.
0 of 1 found this helpful:
My review is about how slow Sparkfun shipping orders. I ordered this item more than a week, the order says barely left their facility. Unacceptable! If you guy want to beat Amazon, you guys needs to improve your shipping and processing orders.
This board is actually great. Sparkfun made a very nice dev board with this one. No complaints in regard to Sparkfun’s hardware. The ESP-IDF and Arduino libraries are still in development and are missing a few features like captive portal. Overall, the ESP32 is a very interesting IoT chip and I would recommend the ESP32 Thing as a dev board if you are looking to get into using it in a project.
I own a couple of the Espressif ESP-DevKit-C boards and wanted to try the sparkfun ESP32 Thing. It arrived promptly. The board is well designed and narrower that the DevKit-C and hence gives me room on a breadboard (just). The primary distinction is the availability of battery socket. This seems to work nicely with 3.7v LIPOs. I also like the position of the buttons free from other components. Less change of “damp hands” shorting something else out.
It does exactly what it claims it does.
My one gripe is that I am having mixed success flashing new programs. If I perform a flash, it may flash the first time, or the second or the third. It seems to have about a 30% success rate at any given go. My DevKit-C flashes first time every time at a whopping 921600 baud … but even bringing the ESP32 Thing down to 115200, I can’t seem to get better than a 50/50 first time flash. I do note that the USB<->UART chip is distinct in ESP32 Thing from DevKit-C. However, once flashed … everything is perfect and the device just keeps on ticking.
Firstly, I had no trouble getting the board running, I just followed the instructions on Espressif’s GitHub site for Windows10 after reading the SparkFun Hookup Guide.
I then loaded about 6 different Arduino sketches starting with Blink, then a small sketch to serial input strings and converted them to ‘float’ (to 6 decimal places) using atof, which worked just fine. Also successfully ran 3 of the WiFi examples. I would love to use the Bluetooth facility at some stage.
I did not have to press ‘reset’ to upload or run sketches and when they finished uploading they ran immediately. I repeated this process using different baud rates, with no problems. After reading some of the other reviews, I just hope my good fortune continues when I use my Thing in my GPS tracking/logging device.
One observation I have is that the board gets quite hot when its working hard, eg. running WiFi sketches. It also got hot when I plugged in a LiPo battery to charge while the board was powered by USB cord from a 5v Power supply. The battery itself did not get hot though. I wonder how normal this is?
The combination of Bluetooth and Wifi in this device makes possible interesting applications involving mobile apps and IoT.
That said, as a previous reviewer pointed out, the Arduino Core isn’t finished – but, it’s a start. I’m using a Mac and didn’t have any problem following the instructions to install the core, connecting the ESP32, and programming. I appreciate not having to pull out my FTDI cable since the USB/Serial interface is built in.
Programming from the Arduino IDE happens reliably without pressing a reset button for me. However, after programming, to run the program I do have to press reset. Not a huge inconvenience, but …
Release notes for the Arduino Core mention that WiFi Client/Server aren’t working fully yet. Though, digital i/o, interrupts, Serial, SPI, Wire, and WiFi are generally working. No mention of Bluetooth, cap-sense, encryption or other features on the ESP32 being supported yet.
So, all said and done, I’m pleased with this “Thing” and looking forward to exploring its possibilities. Though, in the near term, I might look into installing the espressif toolchain instead of relying exclusively on the Arduino Core.
I currently have a number of projects using the ESP8266 Thing via the Arduino interface. My template is easy to modify and lets me spin up new instances in a few minutes and works seamlessly with the Adafruit Huzzah Feather.
Although I am excited about the cool things the ESP32 Thing can do, until the development tools mature I’ll probably shelve it and devote the time to looking at the Edison!
I have it driving shift registers that are driving nixie tubes, pulling time from the internet, but no access to RTC and BLE. Also it crashes and I don’t seem to get any sort of debug output in the serial monitor to figure out why its crashing. So, looking forward to a better Arduino support for it and more libraries such as RTC and BLE libs. Also better debug support for it. Would like to use this in my nixie clocks to provide Blue tooth and wireless support to set the clock and control settings.
Purchased three for a demo/presentation. Just finished my demo code involving accelerometers and LED light strips with MQTT control of same. Finished a burn in test with all three units running for 24 hours today. The ESP32 Thing devices were rock solid, wifi was solid, and MQTT broker server reported solid connections for entire duration. Nice. Using ESP-IDF, FreeRTOS, etc, directly, not using Arduino libraries.
Arduino is working for the basic! Easy to setup. The IDF sdk is there but a lot of functionality is missing. They should be fine to use in a couple of month. Right now this board is note for beginner. Do not expect to work out of the box. It require a lot of time to setup and work through the documentation. How and i using Windows 10.
0 of 4 found this helpful:
Honestly after buying 4 units, following the install guide for the core in Arduino and realizing that you guys still don’t have to implement BLE was extremely frustrating.
Should be well written on item description as this is a SCAM.
Not Yet Implemented:
Bluetooth Analog Input (analogRead([pin])) Analog Ouptut (analogWrite([pin], [value])) WiFi Server and WiFI UDP Real-Time Clock Touch-controller interface
Please inform when the product actually works.