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Vlog #66: Let’s define a standard ESP8266/ESP32 programming header

UPDATE: 2 possible drafts of the convention are now here:
www.superhouse.tv/esp-prog
www.superhouse.tv/esprog

If you don’t put USB on your project, you have to decide on a programming header to use. But everyone does it their own way: Sonoff has theirs, wESP32 has another, many projects have them and they’re all different!

That sucks, so let’s fix it by deciding what we think should be the conventional programming header format for our projects.

My goals are:

  1. Define a convention for programming headers on ESP8285, ESP8266, and ESP32 boards.
  2. Use that header in our own projects, so that it becomes common and interchangeable.
  3. Lobby ITEAD to use the same header in future Sonoff models.

And the stretch goal: Convince Espressif to document it as a recommended header format for new ESPxx projects.

If we’re super-lucky, maybe we can convince ITEAD to fix the incomplete Sonoff programming header by adding RESET and GPIO0, and make all our lives easier in future.

Places to discuss this

References

Design decisions

We need to decide on a physical format, and also whether to supply 3.3V or 5V to the target board from the programmer. The pins we need are:

  • GND
  • VCC
  • TX
  • RX
  • GPIO0
  • RESET

Physical format options include:

  • 1×6 0.1″ header
  • 2×3 0.1″ header
  • 1×6 2mm header
  • 2×3 2mm header
  • Something else? Ideas please!

Design considerations

The design considerations for the physical format include:

  • Similarity to existing designs including Sonoff, wESP32, ESProg, and ESP32 Programmer
  • Cheap and easy to use, with easy to source connectors
  • Small footprint on the target device
  • Perhaps leverage some existing standard such as P-MOD
  • Ability to mount permanently as a sub-board in the project if required

Considerations for the choice of 3.3V or 5V include:

  • Sonoff already requires 3.3V on the header
  • 5V can be useful in some cases
  • Switchable voltage would be possible, but could be dangerous and would lead to fragmentation of the convention
  • Connection of programmer directly to VCC on target, compared to input of onboard 3.3V VREG

Interesting options

ESP-01 header

This has the advantage that it’s well documented, and many people have made adapters for it.

wESP32-Prog header

Already implemented on the wEPS32. 5V supply means the input can be diode-isolated from other supply sources on the board. 4 of the pins match the Sonoff header, except that Sonoff requires 3.3V so it’s not a perfect match.

wESP32-Prog header, but with 3.3V

This is the closest we could have to matching the Sonoff header while extending it to add the GPIO0 and RESET lines.

ESP-Prog header

Documented by Espressif. Uses a 2×3 header, which is nice in terms of compact size. Unfortunately there’s no useful overlap with the ESP-01 header.

ESProg header

Doesn’t seem to match up with anything else in terms of pin order, but is perhaps the closest match electrically in a 1×6 format: all the necessary pins, with 3.3V supplied.

ESP32 Programmer by Mike Rankin

Nice 2×3 format header. If power was added this would be a nice format, but it doesn’t have anything to differentiate it from the ESP-Prog format from Espressif.

Other ESP32 Programmer by Mike Rankin

This one has a 1×5 header, which has all the pins we want except power.

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Vlog #65: SuperHouse now has a Discord server!

I’ve resisted for ages, so viewer Lorenzo took matters into his own hands and set up a Discord server for SuperHouse 🙂

Within 24 hours of being announced, there are now more than 200 people on the server! To join the discussion about SuperHouse projects, home automation, MQTT, Home Assistant, OpenHAB, Tasmota, and many other things, go to this link for an invitation:

www.superhouse.tv/discord

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Vlog #63: Australia, worst place in the world for DIY home automation

Is it true that DIY electrical work can invalidate your home insurance policy? Can you go to prison for replacing the plug on a power board?

In Australia: yes. With the harshest restrictions in the world, Australian regulations don’t let you do anything unless you complete a 4 year apprenticeship, complete some certifications, and become a licensed electrician. It doesn’t matter that I’ve designed satellite payloads and that products I’ve designed have had more than a million units manufactured. Without completing a 4 year apprenticeship, there is no legal path for me to become certified to replace the plug on a power board.

Crazy.

And to top it off, clauses in your insurance policy that don’t seem to have anything to do with electrical safety can allow your insurer to refuse any claims that could be related to DIY electrical work.

If you’re into home automation, check out Rob’s YouTube channel, The Hook Up.

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SuperHouse Vlog #61: Light switches for sale

I finally, FINALLY, got around to putting the parts for my home automation light switches up on the new SuperHouse online store. I thought it would be easy: just put up four products, with 1, 2, 3, or 4 buttons. But then I realised that Australian wall plates don’t suit many people, so I have to make them available as kits to fit into different types of wall plates. Then I realised that people may want different colour buttons, so I have to separate the breakouts from the buttons.

So it got complicated.

Oh well.

For all the details see the light switch page.

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SuperHouse Vlog #60: Maker Faire Shenzhen, China

I’m in China visiting electronics parts suppliers and factories as part of the HardworX Shenzhen Innovation Tour, but today I left the famous Huaqiangbei electronics markets to spend some time at Maker Faire Shenzhen, the second largest Maker Faire in the world. This video shows a few of the makers exhibiting their projects. The faire itself stretches across a huge area and uses many buildings, and the basketball courts shown in this video are just one tiny corner of the event.

 

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SuperHouse Vlog #57: ESD mat for my electronics work benches

After years of using cheap lino cutting mats from the $2 shop, I’ve finally put proper ESD mat down on my electronics benches.

I wanted to use a nice blue mat, but Dave Jones (@eevblog) had a bad experience with discoloration so I decided to try plain grey instead. Hopefully this won’t end up going a strange green colour like Dave’s.

I got the mat from Oritech in Sydney. Their full range is listed here:

www.oritech.com.au/ESD-Control/ESD-Matting/pl.php

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SuperHouse Vlog #56: Internet Vision Technologies is no more

The last few months have been an emotional roller coaster as my wife and I complete the sale of a business that I began in a spare room at my mother’s house more than 20 years ago. This hasn’t left much time (or emotional capacity!) to produce SuperHouse videos.

This is a big change in my personal circumstances, so hopefully I will be able to make more progress on SuperHouse now.

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SuperHouse Vlog #55: The T-962C surface mount reflow oven

While working on new SuperHouse episodes I’ve upgraded my surface mount reflow oven. Most things I design are assembled in factories, but about 8 years ago I set up a toaster oven with a temperature sensor so I could do quick reflow at home for prototypes and small production runs.

I wrote up a tutorial about DIY surface mount assembly for Freetronics: you can read it at Surface Mount Soldering With A Toaster Oven.

Some years ago I upgraded the toaster oven by fitting an Arduino based automatic temperature controller, and since then I’ve baked several thousand circuit boards in that little oven. However, the time has finally come to replace it with a proper semi-professional reflow oven.

The T-962A is currently the most common cheap desktop reflow oven, but I need something a bit bigger so that I can run a few dozen boards at a time. I decided to go for its big brother, the T-962C.

Yes, I know the camerawork is terrible! Normally I’d re-film anything that looks as bad as some parts of this vlog, but TBH I can’t be bothered for a quick update 🙂