Sunday, November 1, 2015

Maker's IoT Kit for ESP8266 (ESP-01)

Maker's IoT Kit for ESP8266 (ESP-01)

the real McCoy PCB milled on LPKF103

Ah, the beloved ESP8266, so many variants, so many choices, so many different pricing points, the one true chip (read: cheap) that offers internet connectivity to the unplugged. but which one is suitable for me? Since ESP8266's inception, with the debut of the ESP-01, a myriad of ESP8266s'have been released. Starting form ESP-01 to the latest addition that sports ESP12E , and finally the WROOM. The debut started with ESP-01 URL, an U$4 (yours truly got it for S$9 from a local vendor back in 2014) full featured ESP8266 but only 2 I/O the GPIO0 and GPIO2 are break out in the form of the DIP pin package. Along the way, ESP7, ESP12, ESP12E, came by. These ESPes' lack of one thing in common to facilitate a maker to rapid prototype an IoT idea: a daughter board that breaks out the I/O (breadboard friendly or otherwise) to control stuff over the internet URL , and at the minimum comes with a 3V3 voltage regulator. Finally the holy grail of all ESP, the NodeMCU URL, a full featured ESP8266 ESP12E with 10 I/Os break out conveniently and just need to be plugged on a breakboard to be usable. A standalone NodeMCU is easily USD9 per pop. One might argue the entry pricing point is cheap, but one has to remember the price excludes the accessories. The "shield" for nodeMCU can be as costly as the nodeMCU itself.

For a maker that wants to bring the prototype built with ESP8266 out of the breadboard environment, into a deployment environment, the said prototype has to be fully robust, and survive a few hard knocks in the "real world". An ESP8266 planted on a breadboard with loads of interconnected wire as if it is a prop straight out of a Hollywood sci-fi bomb is not going to cut it. A (poor) maker is left with not much of a choice but have to solder it on a stripboard, and hopefully the VC will fancy it. IoT enabled devices are on the rage when this come to the economies of scale; A prototype demo during an elevator pitch with a gazillion IoT devices definitely going to pack a heavy punch as compared to a demo with a lone IoT device. oh wait, solder a gazillion prototypes to test out the economics of scale for IoT?!

The Maker's IoT Kit for ESP8266 (ESP-01) has a unique standpoint point in the landscape of ESP8266 enabled IoT devices. It has a very low entry barrier on the technical department. It addresses the total cost of ownership pricing issue with the choice of ESP8266 ESP-01, and the need for a minimum of 1 input and 1 output to be interfaced with sensor & actuator, just to be useful enough to control things over the Internet. Essentially, Maker's IoT Kit is a break out board (BoB) for ESP8266 ESP-01 that fully embrace the design "philosophy" behind ESP-01: Low cost, testing of IoT ideas by rapid prototyping with ESP-01, and deployable en masse. The beauty of Maker's IoT Kit: it address the choice to remain free from obligations & restrictions; there is no tie in to a specific set of I/O board manufacturers. Approx U$2 for ESP-01, U$0.5 for The Maker's IoT Kit, total cost of an IoT device that supports 1 input and 1 output can be as low as U$2.5. Surely any research grant handed to yours truly will enable many many IoT devices to be deployed.

Prior to the release of ArduinoIDE-for-ESP8266, an Arduino Uno or Arduino Mega is needed to piggy back the ESP8266. To the layman, an Arduino IDE is definitely much "friendlier" compared to Writing a custom firmware using espresif SDK on Eclipse. The technical barrier to get started with the SDK is somewhat complex to the naked untrained eye. Ah, and not forgetting the constant swapping the ESP-01 boards between programming mode and prototype testing mode; compiling, and downloading the compiled code to ESP8266 with CP2102, and then transplant IO board to interface with the sensors. In hindsight, the Maker's IoT Kit for ESP8266 (ESP-01) was born out of regenerative iterating prototypes to quickly test out IoT ideas.

The design principles of The Maker's IoT Kit for ESP8266 (ESP-01) are listed in the following.

The Maker's IoT Kit is both a programmer board with the use of CP2102 as the USB serial, and also a prototyping board. To change between the programming mode and the prototyping mode is done With the help of a jumper. The PCB is designed as a single layer PCB on purpose, lowering the entry barrier for it to be easily reproduced by any PCB milling machine available in workshops, FabLabs or maker spaces. It coveniently breaks out GPIO0 and GPIO2 for the ESP8266 ESP-01. GPIO2 is used for 3V3 input device, and GPIO0 is used for 3v3 output device. By design, a 5V output is available on GPIO0, and this is done with additional NPN transistor.  Assuming the prototype and source code behaves according to specifications, then the ESP8266 ESP-01 can be left as it is on the Maker's IoT Kit to be deployed in the field and to collect data of interest. Power supply to the prototypes built with ESP8266 has been a constant headache, especially deployed outdoors. This Maker's IoT Kit sports 3 possible inputs for power supply. first the 5V from the CP2102. this mode is only recommended for programming the ESP8266, but not for deployment due to the current required by ESP8266. Next, a 2pin molex pin for power supply from DC adapter. The voltage from DC adapter varies from 5v to 12v, as long as it is within the specs of the LM317 voltage regulator. Lastly, power supply via USB B port, this opens a much wider selection ranging from power banks to mobile phone charger. A diode is added to the USB B port, due to an experience of magic smoke stemming from a bad USB cables powering my precious. no brownie points for guessing where the cables orginated from.

Learning from collective wisdom of ESP8266 enthusiasts, the peculiarity of ESP8266 GPIO0 turning high during bootup is addressed by the NPN transistor.

first iteration

fifth iteration

powered via laptop USB port to CP2102 to down load the program into ESP-01

powered via USB B port connected to powerbank

powered by 4x AA battery connected to 2pin molex pin

use this URL to download the gerber file

First, download the gerber and mill the Maker's IoT Kit for ESP8266 (ESP-01). Solder the necessary electronic components on the milled PCB w.r.t the schematic posted here. plug in a CP2102, and the ESP-01 on the daughter board, take special precautions on the polarity and orientation of the pin out. Set the jumper "p-mode" to programming mode (short the left and middle pin). Plug the CP2102 end to a computer equipped with Arduino-ESP8266. The steps are quite similar to this guide, just take note in the board to be selected is "ESP8266 Generic". compile and download source code to ESP-01.
Once download is completed, unplug from computer; then unplug CP2102 from daughter board. Set the jumper "p-mode" to operation mode (short the right and middle pin), plug in a power supply of choice, and you are good to IoT your way to the cloud.

So, what to make with it?

for starters yours truly have tested the The Maker's IoT Kit with ESP8266 (ESP-01) with a DS18B20 temperature probe as input, LED as output. The temperature data is sent wirelessly to thingspeak, and the LED simulates the turning on/off of a load in-place of a Solid State Relay (SSR). Yes, as of what you have guessed, yours truly is going to up the ante to build a sous vide that is controllable over the internet via wireless network. In short, the cooking temperature can be changed, monitored and recorded over the Internet during sousvide cooking. Think along the line of you browsing popular sous vide cooking website, and there is a "cook" button next to your favourite dish. Magically, your sous vide meal will be prepared when you are back from work. of course, some devine intervention of acquiring the edibles, packing it into a vacuum bag, and lowering it into a sous vide water bath equipped with ESP01 is required.  An earlier iteration URL 

in this post, we only address the hardware part of a ESP8266 enabled IoT devices, and this is hardly half of the entire story told. The parts missing are communication stacks with MQTT, a cloud computing solution to act as the collector and aggregator of data, and of course, the holy grail of all this IoT craze: Predictive analytics from the data collected. An earlier iteration with thingspeak

nodered on Ubuntu to be used with ESP8266 

code here:

special thanks to my padawans jia yi, william tan, bryan, and etc for strip board, manning the PCB milling machine, sourcing for milling bits and cheap copper boards, and testing.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

makeup for 3D printed parts

yes, among the many things yours truly could do: 3D prints, 3D scans, CNC mill; but his lack in the department of aesthetics is severe. Same as everything pretty, makeup must be applied for aesthetics reasons.

If you recalled many full moons ago, yours truly  created a personal seal using only digital fabrication techniques.  The 3D printer of choice is still the ultimaker2, materials of choice is PLA, and 3D prints at 100micron layer height. 100 micron seems to be pushing the envelop for desktop based 3D printers. This choice of layer height and without makeup is good enough to ornate yours truly office. Assuming the 3D printed object need to be used to handle other materials with "fine" particles as the by product of the material, it falls short. The grooves between each layer of prints could possibly habours dirt, or worst, sickness inducing bacteria. Hence, there were some suggestions on the Internet on how to do post treatment to PLA 3D printed parts  aka makeup to achieve water tight, smooth finish, and the pinnacle of all post treatment/makeup: food safe grade, i.e food debris will not be caught in-between the layers and prohibits bacteria growth on 3D printed parts.

The suggestions for post treatment aka makeup for 3D printed parts. Some suggested to use food grade PLA, but the grooves between the layers are still a nuisance to human health, and boon to bacteria. Sandblasting on the 3D printed parts to get a smooth matt finish, doable, but access to machine might be prohibitive. Coating the 3D printed parts with food safe resin, definitely doable. your truly have not got the chance to do any of the above, yet.

So, the adventure begins at bangkok mini maker faire and yours truly chance upon "solution X aka solution 555" (5 in thai language rhymes with ha) for post treatment of 3D printed parts, by one of the makers presented there.

Saw the makeup demo on PLA 3D printed parts, and was quite intrigue at the speed of the post production of 3D printed parts; yours truly can't wait to get his paws on them. unfortunately, he is such as cheapo and bought the cheapest air ticket without check-in luggage. Of course you know the airport security is very tight and will not allow liquid > 100ml per bottle on board. tough luck. yours truly struck a deal with native partners, co sharing 400g and 500g bottles of "solution 555" into smaller bottles < 100ml . yours truly could not sleep, due to the fact of the access to 120ml worth of solution 555 makes him keep waking up at night. Yes, yours truly is an impulsive buyer, buying things that caught the cat's curiosity. He walked away with the last set of solution 555 kit available for sale on that rainy day, without means to bring it back to aiur.

Social capital plays a big part in how yours truly manage the issue of getting it back without paying extra for check-in luggage, nor breaking any laws. The rest was history.

the full kit: 500g of grey and 400g of white. yes, instructions is in thai language.

The first victim to be applied with solution 555 makeup. 3D printed lion head from a previous project: ultimaker2, 100micron layer height, PLA
closeup: sorry for the lousy picture quality. yours truly used a 2year old phone camera for this.
mix 3 part from grey bottle and 1 part from white bottle. gettin ready to makeup with the mixture.
can you tell which is with makeup and which is without makeup?
ooops... yours trully missed a spot.

conclusion: money well spent on "solution 555". after the first layer of makeup, the visible lines along the layers smoothed, it has a glossy look, and definitely would be better with more layers of makeup. The 3D printed part earned the permission to be relocated in the house from his missus. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stream IoT sensor data ESP8266 NodeMCU v1.0 ESP12-E with Arduino IDE

Stream IoT sensor data ESP8266 NodeMCU v1.0 ESP12-E with Arduino IDE
Streaming sensor data using ESP8266 NodeMCU v1.0 ESP12-E with Arduino IDE to Thingspeak

Sorry for the long hiatus, yours truly was busy trying to put bacon on the table, and also playing catch-up with the increasing rent.

Back in late 2014 and early 2015, your truly came across this nifty WiFi Chip ESP8266 (the ESP-01) and have to battle among the inconsistent documentations from various sources. For the spur moment, he documented his frustrations (findings) as an instruction guide ESP8266 guide or on instructables ESP8266 guide . In due course, the ESP8266 WiFi has opened a whole new window of opportunity for him and his padawans.

The caveat at the moment of writing in 2014/2015 was to find a way to eliminate the “middle” MCU, the well-loved Arduino Uno (or Arduino Mega). It doesn’t make sense to forgo the ESP8266 that sports a 32bit CPU by using an Arduino Uno that sports an 8bit CPU for computations. Over the several months of dec14 to sept15, several IDE flavours/methodologies was released on the Internet to use standalone ESP8266, e.g to use ESP8266 and the available IO pins sans the Arduino Uno or Arduino Mega. From retrospective view, the cost of deploying an IoT framework to collect data has gone down drastically with just the standalone ESP8266 alone as the sentinel device.  The flavours of standalone mode are ESP8266 Lua, and ESP8266 Arduino IDE. Check out the reference section for details.

After two Maker Faires (Maker Faire Singapore, and Maker Faire Shenzhen), one Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors Award which students won a Merit Award, one SUTD Design & Technology Contest which students won third prize and merit prize, one IDC Robocon which students represented Singapore, one IEEE AIYEHUM 2015 which student shortlisted as finalist, and countless submissions later; the hiatus is over. In Maker Faire Shenzhen, yours truly rub shoulders with several big names in the industry; perhaps the mostly-male playing field (for the record there were females; @juliewatai @sexycyborg, etc were surrounded by hordes of testosterone raging males armed with cameras of various sizes firing away, while your truly observe with amusement from afar) and the maker-ish aura projected by yours truly. One of them was Zhao Zong (赵总) of AI Thinker, the manufacturer of NodeMCU (a breakout version of the ESP8266 ESP12-E and CP2102, with out of the box support for LUA). Yours truly landed his salty porky hands on a bunch of NodeMCU v1.0 at very competitive price (友情价).

In this write up, yours truly is introducing the use of NodeMCU v1.0 (black) with ESP8266 Arduino IDE 1.6.5. There are lots of write up on the NodeMCU v0.9 or ESP8266 ESP-01 and variants with LUA, but information is scarce for NodeMCU v1.0 and ESP8266 Arduino IDE. This post is also a superseding update of an earlier how-to post of using ESP8266 ESP-01 with Arduino Mega and the temperature data is streamed to thingspeak .

Parts needed
1x DS18B20 temperature sensor with 4.7k resistor across vcc and data pin
1x NodeMCU v1.0 (black)
1x Access Point Connected to Internet

Source code available at the footer
Thingspeak account setup, and API key acquired.

Caveat: the physical pin2 on NodeMCU v1.0 does not corresponds to pin D2 in Arduino IDE. Check out the URL in the references.
1.      It is assumed that the Access Point is able to access to internet, and a thingspeak account is set up accordingly.
2.      Connect 3.3v and gnd from NodeMCU v1.0 to DS18B20 respectively.
3.      Connect data from DS18B20 to pin4 on NodeMCU v1.0 (in code, it will be used as pin2)
4.      Connect microUSB to NodeMCU v1.0

5.      Launch ESP8266 Arduino IDE, Select Tools -> Board -> NodeMCU v1.0; and ensure parameters are correct. Refer to screenshot. 

6.      Ensure the libraries required are installed, Select Sketch -> Include Libraries -> Manage Libraries or add zip library
7.      Program the source code to read DS18B20 using one wire protocol and the acquired data to be sent to thingspeak.
8.      Compile & upload source code to NodeMCU v1.0 

9.      Observe data update of sensor data on thingspeak.

Having done the above, congratulations on sending sendor data using NodeMCU v1.0 with Arduino IDE. Now the biggest question comes begging, does this ESP8266 Arduino IDE supports all the fancy pansy libraries supported on vanilla Arduino IDE?? That is for us to discover and update on the git hub page.

Internet enable any of your creations realised on Arduino Uno (or mega) have become even simpler than previously thought. Yours truly traversed the era of sending serial data, packing data for Ethernet, WiFly, ZigBee, and now ESP8266. ESP8266 is very convenient to use.

What’s next?
Alright, time to internet enable my sous vide setup: temperature sensor DS18B20 data streamed over the Internet to a cloud computing facility to compute PID and then output the control data over the internet to control the state of the solid state relay that in turn controls the AC appliance. Earlier yours truly have controlled a IoT lamp from a virtual machine, now is to connect the dots.


thingspeak data update iframe

source code

Friday, July 10, 2015

Maker Faire Singapore 2015 SP Makers FabLab@SP Makerspace@SP booth

check out our booth at Maker Faire Singapore 2015!

Look out for the laser cut acrylic signage we made with attiny85 ws2812

some of the maker inspired projects you will see at maker faire singapore:
techno mohawk v2.0

attiny85 ws2812 spectrum analyzer

attiny85 ws2812 fastled electret spectrum analyzer

maker faire singapore 2015 sound to light gizmos using attiny85 ws2812 fastled spectrum analyzer

check out the video here:

source code: here