What's your favourite ESP32 board? (# Best, good, cheap, quality, reliable)

What’s your favourite ESP32 board? Why?

Where do you buy from? Why?

What board features do you value the most?

I’m getting a bit sick of flaky cheap Ali Express knock-offs, so becoming more interested in higher quality boards (but don’t mind cheap ones for the basics).

I thought this topic might be worth a dedicated Home Assistant thread? Couldn’t see an existing one.

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NodeMCU. contains all the features I need. usually easy to get.

Amazon. pretty much always available and 2 day shipping most of the time.

Built-in wifi, lots of IO pins. Relatively cheap - usually ~$8 from amazon depending on number ordered, deals, etc - right now they are 2 for $16.

That reminds me that I might need to order some more. :laughing:

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You know mine. QuinLED-ESP32

Properly selected 3.3v 800mA voltage regulator and quality capacitors, capable of powering many peripherals. IMO this is the main failing of the Chinese boards.

Plus other design improvements over the ESP32 mini clones while remaining pin for pin compatible, e.g. USB-C, extra gnd pins, protected 5v supply.

Available with or without soldered headers, onboard or external antenna, wired Ethernet top hat available.

Delivery ~2 weeks form the worldwide store to Oz.

Not expensive, $5 to $15 depending on options selected.

But… currently out of stock due to QC issues (bad batch of ESP chips) :frowning:

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What @tom_l said!!

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I’ve had good luck with the QuinLED-ESP32 boards as well as the Olimex POE. Both boards can do Ethernet, have options for external antenna and the Olimex can be powered over Ethernet if that’s something you need.

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More for the record…

After watching a Andreas Spiess Youtube video I was hopeful about (what appear to be flaky knock-off) MH-ET LIVE D1 mini’s and LILYGO® TTGO T7 V1.5 Mini32’s (the latter may be legit, don’t know yet).

I like the form factor of both.

I can’t recommend either yet as 4/5 of the MH-ET LIVE D1 mini clones were dead on arrival and the TTGO’s are untested ATM.

I’m keen to give the QuinLED-ESP32’s a spin when they’re available.

All the Lilygo stuff is open source and their designs are on github. I had a look at some of them and they appear to be really good (500mA 3.3v regulator on the one you linked to). Just make sure you buy from their official Aliexpress store. The clones cannot be guaranteed to be using the the same quality components.

Same goes for the LOLIN D1 mini. Buy from the official LOLIN store, not the clones. The clones are cheaper because they use inferior components and the reliability suffers.

MH-ET Live no longer seem to be selling the ESP32 mini. So avoid that one now. There are a lot of bad clones.

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I got some alleged d1-mini-pro boards that had smaller ram soldered on than the official ones.

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From the LOLIN store?

Its rock solid and has ethernet

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No, that was my naive error.

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I always use the bare module and solder it to a breakout board (the white one with 2 double rows of pins)
and then just add a ams1117 and 470uf and 0.1uf caps on 3v3 and 5v. Never had any instability issues

bonus this is the cheapest way too…

and if you only need a few pins you can solder angled pin headers and mount in standing on the side on the main pcb

best of luck!

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Interesting. A little too DIY for where I’m at, but interesting to know people are doing this…

I’ve never given any thought to the importance of voltage regulator specs, but starting to get it.

Will try to keep this relatively on topic…

How does a “properly selected voltage regulator” apply if you are powering both 5V and 3.3V devices/sensors off the board? Anything to look out for or different specs to check?

Like my CO2 Senseair S8 LP seems to have a 300mA peak and my PMS7003 ~100mA, and that’s just two of many things I want to hang off my ESP32. But will power these two from 5V pin then a bunch of other lower power devices off of 3.3V.

So like ummm, do I plan/provision for these to use up some of my 3.3v spec, or I think I read the 5V pin is usually connected directly to the USB input so I just need to make sure I have a decent usb power supply (maybe go for a 2A one etc)?

Hope that makes sense. Not so good with this stuff.

If you have a good 5V supply (1A or more) you can ignore any peripheral loads (within reason) on the 5v supply rail. These are powered pretty much directly.

However if you are attaching 3.3v devices, that power has to be converted from 5v to 3.3v by the voltage regulator.

The ESP CPU and wifi use this 3.3v power too.

The ESP chip itself draws 160-260mA when transmitting according to the data sheet. However there can be spikes much higher than this that are smoothed out by the power supply capacitors.

So if you have a bottom dollar clone with a 300mA 3.3v regulator and poor power supply filtering capacitors it may just run ok as long as you don’t attach anything else to the 3.3v rail. Start attaching a few sensors and there is no longer enough 3.3v power during packet transmission and the rail voltage sags causing the cpu to reset.

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Thanks. This is clear and makes sense.

ESP32 dev boards off eBay. Never had any issues with them

Would you mind adding a pic or link of examples to your post when you get a sec please @DavidFW1960 ?

would have been one of these or similar

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Yeah I used to go for similar ones too and historically generally had pretty good luck with them.

Probably my preferred/recommended cheapy.

I don’t know how much the quality varies between similar ones…