LILYGO Mini E-Paper Core IoT controller gets ESP32-S3 wireless microcontroller – CNX Software

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LILYGO Mini E-Paper Core has gotten an upgrade to the ESP32-S3 wireless microcontroller. The IoT controller was first introduced in 2021 with an ESP32-PICO-D4 system-in-package, a 1.02-inch E-Paper display, and a few GPIOs on the back, and the company kept the same design for the ESP32-S3 model called “Mini E-Paper Core S3”.

The tiny ESP32-S3 IoT controller can still be used for integrated into your own project, and the company also provides several shields with nRF24L01 2.4GHz wireless or 433/868 MHz “LoRa” connectivity to transform the device into a longer range IoT device.

LILYGO Mini E-Paper ESP32-S3
Mini E-Paper Core S3 specifications

  • Wireless SoC – Espressif Systems ESP32-S3FN4R2
    • CPU – Dual-core Tensilica LX7 @ up to 240 MHz with vector instructions for AI acceleration
    • Memory – 512KB RAM, 2MB PSRAM
    • Storage – 4MB flash
    • Wireless – 2.4 GHz WiFi 4 and Bluetooth
  • Storage – MicroSD card socket
  • Display – 1.02-inch e-paper display with 128×80 resolution
  • USB – 1x USB Type-C for power and programming
  • Expansion
    • 7-pin 2.54mm pitch header with 5x GPIO, 4x ADC, 2x DAC, 3.3V, and GND
    • 8- pin 2.54mm pitch header with 4x GPIO, SPI, 1x ADC, 5V, VBUS, VBat, and GND
    • Note: The layout is mostly the same, but some GPIO pins have changed (e.g. G16 instead of G37), and the 2x DACs have been replaced by 2x ADCs
  • Misc – Three-way toggle button connected to G3, G0, and G4, reset button
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB-Type-C port
    • External battery support via Vbat pin, and charging circuit
  • Power consumption – About 10uA in sleep mode
  • 3D printed shell
Mini E-Paper Core pinout diagramMini E-Paper Core pinout diagram
Pinout diagram for Mini E-Paper Core (since the company has yet to release the one for the S3 model)

If I understand correctly, the new Mini E-Paper Core S3 model does not require the T-U2T USB to TTL device, and instead uses the USB port as the JTAG upload port to flash the firmware. LILYGO provides support for PlatformIO and Arduino with instructions, schematics, firmware, and samples available in a GitHub repo shared for both versions of the Mini E-Paper Core. You’ll just need to select “ESP32S3 Dev Module” board, “UART0 / Hardware CDC” upload mode, and “Hardware CDC and JTAG” USB mode.

The device provides a smaller and lower-cost alternative to the M5Stack Core2 development kit based on a 2-inch touchscreen color LCD. As mentioned in the introduction, it’s possible to connect wireless shields to the back of the IoT controller to add extra radios for example, a Texas Instruments CC1101-based 433/868 MHz shield as shown below, although the company incorrectly refers to it as a LoRa shield since it’s only (legally) possible with Semtech chips.

Mini E-Paper Core ESP32-S3 C1101 LoRa shield

Mini E-Paper Core ESP32-S3 C1101 LoRa shield

The ESP32-S3 variant of the LILYGO Mini E-Paper Core can be purchased for $22.98 including shipping on Aliexpress where you’ll also find an nRF24L01 2.4 GHz shield for $12.98 and the CC1101 433 or 868 MHz shield for $16.98.

Jean Luc AufrancJean Luc Aufranc

Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.

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