ESP32 Modules Popping Up Everywhere, In Stock Almost Nowhere

We know what it’s like to wait for newly released electronic parts. Clicking refresh every day at your favorite online retailers, reading reviews published by the press who got preview units, and maybe even daring to order implausibly cheap devices from foreign lands. The ESP32 has many of us playing the waiting game, and we’ll level with you — they’re out of stock most places. But, if you look hard enough you can find one. At least, you could find them before we wrote this quick roundup of ESP32 hardware. If hearing about parts that are just out of reach is your sort of thing, then read on, you masochist!

Espressif

Espressif, the company that makes the ESP-32 chip and its support firmware, is also making modules and development boards to support them. Their module is the ESP-WROOM32, is not just the first module out there, but it also serves as the hardware design reference (zip file) for the chip. They also provide a datasheet (PDF) for the module. It’s all there, so you could run their Gerbers and source the parts yourself if you wanted to.

tojvkfzv9gpnqcpo8walvn2bAlternatively, you could order them directly from Espressif, which we’ve never tried before, or you can try to get them many places online. Seeed was one of the first to stock them, but they’re now out. Elecrow claims to have them in stock.

Espressif also makes a simple development board, which is what we received for testing. These are in stock at Adafruit (limit 1 per customer) and out of stock (again) at Olimex but we hope that’ll change soon enough. With Espressif’s own modules in short supply, it’s a darn good thing that they’ve published a reference design and the clone producers have stepped up. Let’s take a look at what the rest of the world is offering.

All-in-One Boards

Whether you think of these as being development kits or ESP32 breakouts, a complete minimal design that would be ready to start programming on should include a power regulator, a USB/serial converter, flash memory, the ESP32 chip and antenna.

nano32_3From the look of things, Gravitech and Maker Asia took Espressif’s demonstration board and module apart and reconstructed it on a single PCB. This means that they’re able to pump out boards without being bottle-necked by the availability of modules. The Nano32 is currently being manufactured in Thailand, so we have no idea how long they’ll take to get to you.

In the US, Sparkfun has entered the ring with their ESP32 Thing which has just come out of backorder. You should bookmark their very nice getting-started guide. Their twist on the basic board is to add in a LiPo battery charger. We haven’t been able to put the chip through a power test yet, but the folks at Espressif suggested that they’ve added a few power-saving tricks to the firmware, so there’s hope that a battery-driven WiFi solution isn’t far away.

In Europe, Pycom has two boards that are apparently in stock now, and both shipping with their MicroPython firmware. Their WiPy 2.0 isn’t all that much different from the other boards, but the LoPy is unique, pairing a LoRa radio with an ESP32, giving you three radio protocols for the price of one and a half, or something. If you need a LoRa bridge, or you need an ESP32 right now, check these folks out.

There are more than a few other development boards, or at least designs, out there. Click on over to ESP32.net and scroll down to the bottom of the page for a list. If any of you have one of these in your hands, or are the developer of one, let us know in the comments?

Modules

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ESP32S Sitting on top of ESP-WROOM32. Perfect match! (Via [Angus Gratton])
If you bought a bare ESP-XX module (ESP-01, ESP-07, ESP-12S…) chances are fairly decent that it was made by AI-Thinker. This is an entirely unscientific poll, but they account for 100% of the sample of bare modules that we’ve bought online.

Their earliest draft of an ESP32 module, called the ESP3212, has been scrapped and replaced with the ESP-32S, with a pinout that’s identical to Espressif’s WROOM32, according to [Angus Gratton] of Espressif. AI-Thinker started up production in early October, and there are modules available for around $8 on Taobao.com.

We’re stoked to see a second source for modules, because all of the stock-outs and backorders are getting a little bit old. And we’re doubly stoked that they’re using the same footprint as Espressif. That’s one more thing that we won’t have to worry about.

Summary

At the moment who has what in stock is in flux, but if you look a little deeper, you can find an ESP32 development board or module. This is all bound to change over the next few weeks, so let us know what, where, and for how much you find yours. We look forward to these modules and development boards being as ubiquitous and easy to use as their predecessor.

45 thoughts on “ESP32 Modules Popping Up Everywhere, In Stock Almost Nowhere

      1. Scroll down just a couple of lines from the header and…

        “Note: this product is out of store now , need to 2016-11-25 can be available. If you buy, you need to wait !!!!
        Thanks for your understanding . We always love you !!!”

        …but we love your money even more. :-)

        1. I value the well-labeled breakout boards and development modules. I also value the fact that they are small.

          With these cheap boards, it is entirely possible that you’re wiring up the first, while consulting on the pinout on the bottom of the second one. If you have only one, that pops out of a drawer a few years down the line, you don’t have to google and hope the doc you found is for the exact same version as you have or the other one with the changed pinout. Then you can consult the pinout on the board, plan ahead and then solder it where you want it….

  1. or you can just wait until the supply chain catches up instead of maxing out a credit card and buying 500 of the damn things first chance you get. They will probably be making these for a few years, and unless you just “have-to-be-first-to-blink-LED” – I think you can wait a little bit.

    But this is the first product HaD has hyped into unobtainium and it probably won’t be the last…

      1. One of the reasons why I am not an early adopter of pretty much anything anymore. I let the supply chain settle down, let other people suffer the gremlins and do all the hard work, the price comes down and then I’ll buy in. But being the first to make an LED blink or get doom to load on some new dev board is someone else’s fun and I can wait. But some people see a new part and just can’t help themselves, and nine tenths of the time they never do anything terribly impressive, if anything at all. Impulsive buyers just serve to get all the junk out of the chain and drive prices up for a short while.

      2. Yup. Waiting for more stable supply, maturity in the dev infrastructure, and reports from the field.

        Now, for the ESP8266 I did jump on early and try to come to grips with it… and it was kind of fun, watching the docs evolve and frameworks appear. And now I have like 20 plus of them kicking around in some format or other. By the time I use up that stash, the ESP 32 and I will be ready for each other.

  2. I ordered some from seeed two months ago and they still havent shipped.

    So i ordered some from elecrow last week, and they sent me a pic of them shipping the next day, and DHL tracking says they are working their way through europe right now. I highly recommend ordering through elecrow rather than seeed.

      1. They’re currently saying that they are sold out, and expecting another batch “soon”, but the status on the part shows as “in stock”.

        I’m not sure if that’s any better than other suppliers saying that they’re not in stock and sitting that way forever.

    1. Yea, they said they were supposed to ship in early October, then waited until the end of October to say they haven’t shipped yet, and won’t for another month. I’m not too eager to be on the bleeding edge, but that’s pretty crappy customer service.

  3. Do any of these modules support bluetooth yet? Or is the software still out to lunch on that one, and the next batch will have bluetooth antennas and such when the software for the bluetooth low energy hardware catches up?

  4. Being a first adopter can be a real PIA for new silicon. Look Nordic’s nRF51 line, it took awhile for those to become stable. Having to rely on chip errata to figure out a silicon bug sucks.

    The chip does look really nice though. Curious what sleep modes exist and if you can multiplex the radio between BLE and WiFi and what the latency is.

    1. I’m not them, but sleep modes look like they’re going to be similar to the ESP ones — radio off, cpu idle, cpu off. All with the real-time clock module running and some memory storage.

      They’re still working on multiplexing the WiFi and BLE, but getting it working is on their roadmap for end-of-November.

    2. Some manufacturers are less prone to errata than others. Maybe due to the talent of their engineers or their testing methods.

      Anyway if you are AWARE of the fact that there are errata and the errata sheet is published then there is little problems. It is normal that “you can’t use I2S if you use SPI” because they simply use the same hardware. When its “you can’t use I2C if you use the UART” it’s an erratum as those are supposed to be separate modules. But it is just a restriction of the chip you’ll have to live with.

      But it becomes annoying if they don’t publish the errata and when you have been scratching your head for weeks and weeks, the support engineer says: Oh, yeah. You can’t jump in the instruction after setting the PSR. It is erratum 26/64, I’ll send you a copy. (Intel 960, it was something with a jump, not sure what the instruction before it could not be).

  5. Ordered mine last Saturday from Olimex and they arrived yesterday after just 2 working days from Bulgaria to Germany (tuesday being a holiday in my region), Super fast,

    Ordered a breakout board from OSHpark several weeks ago and now the thing is up and running :-)

  6. Boards are available if you persistent. I have my esp-32S board’s from seeed, I was in the first batch of 600. See my twitter feed for pics of what I received. I also received 3 WRoom32’s from Olimex. I would put money on it that the wroom32 and esp-32s are both made by AiThinker, Pretty sure the bottom of the PCB’s are identical but have different color PCB’s and cans. My WiPy 2.0 also arrived. I guess I better get busy and make something ;-D

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