The Color Kit Grande is the latest update of the hardware kits which I started selling back in 2015. It started with the ESP8266 and a tiny B/W OLED display. A little later the ESP8266 Color Kit followed and added a bigger display with resistive touch screen to it. Buyers also had to do a bit of soldering to complete the kit.
The ePulse Feather
The Color Kit Grande is the sum of many things Marcel and I learned in the last couple of years. We replaced the NodeMCU from the Classic Kit and the Wemos Mini from the Color Kit with our own ESP32 ePulse Feather. As the name indicates the ePulse Feather follows Adafruit’s Feather specification. The ePulse Feather is also very efficient when it comes power consumption: it only consumes down to 12uA when in deep sleep! A true IoT dev board should be powered by batteries and the ePulse Feather allows this with a LiPo charger and connector. And it uses the powerful ESP32 microcontroller which is a big upgrade compared to the ESP8266. More RAM, more flash, more cores, more possibilities!
The Display Module
But not only the microcontroller board got better compared the the older Color Kit. We also added a better display module. It communicates over SPI with the ePulse Feather to change the pixels on the display. The added PSRAM memory of the ePulse Feather allows us to write better looking programs with more colors!
We also replaced the (ancient) resistive touch screen with a capacitive module. This is the same technology that you know from modern smartphones and tablets and is much more precise and intuitive to use.
The Connector Board
The ESP8266 Color Kit was the first of my kits to include a custom component and it required you to solder pin headers. The Color Kit Grande still has such a PCB which we call connector board. But this time we offer you various difficulties of soldering. There is a power switch with classic through hole soldering and a wide pin pitch with enough space for even a wide soldering tool.
The pin headers for the ePulse Feather are in 2.54mm pitch and are a bit more delicate but still not too hard for a beginner. We also added a Grove connector to connect to a wide range of sensors and actors using the same system. And the Grove connector is surface mounted which again is a bit more complicated to solder.
The Kit Box
Even with the kit box we learned from our older products: both the Classic Weather Station and the ESP8266 Color Kit came in a box which is 4cm high. This was sometimes problematic for shipping and added extra costs. The Color Kit Grande box is only 2cm high and everything fits neatly in it. The box even serves as a stand. How cool is that?
The New Weather App
Not only the hardware is new, we also rewrote the popular weather app from scratch. More memory and more CPU power means that we have more colors to play with. To make setup of the development environment as easy as possible we decided to use platformio and Visual Studio Code. While the Arduino IDE is very good for beginners it makes it hard to ensure that every maker has the same setup on his/her machine. With platformio we can define the exact versions of libraries you use. No conflicts because of old and outdated dependencies! Just do the required changes in the settings.h file and upload the firmware!
Where to buy
The Color Kit Grande is available at the ThingPulse web shop. As you might know, I founded ThingPulse together with Marcel back in 2018 to professionalize the distribution of the projects posted on this blog. Since then we developed many new products together which are also available in the shop.
Coupon: For the readers of my blog I have a special treat! Use the coupon code SQUIX-CKG to save USD $5 when buying a Color Kit Grande in the ThingPulse Shop. Valid until July 31, 2023