Finally found some time and inspiration to continue working on this
small project and prepared the schematic + PCB layout using
And before I get my first PCBs (from Oshpark) to actually build
and test it, I wanted to share some thoughts about KiCad as a newbie who
barely did any EDA work before.
For starters - schematic capture is easy and straightforward. Most
generic components come with the standard library. Interface can look a
little awkward, but works great once you start using keyboard
shortcuts. Those are always accessible via <shift> + ?.
To get an idea of my project’s complexity (or rather lack of it) here’s
Footprint assignment is tad painful unless you really know what
component packages you will be using. Most of the time I go through
various footprints and need to see the preview to understand if it’s
what I want. That can be slow - there’s no immediate preview box
and clicking icon for preview is not terribly convenient. This is
likely thing to change in KiCad v5 which is not too far from first
Laying out the PCB is fun and trouble free most of the time. The two
biggest issues I bumped into were:
From time to time I manage to move grid reference without even
realising it. By accident, and I don’t even understand how.
This wasn’t an issue in this project but assigning network class
(e.g. signal vs power) is quite clumsy. But maybe I’m just missing
some workflow trick?
To someone not used to eyeballing CAD drawings (or engineering drawings
in general) KiCad’s circuit board 3D preview is indispensable:
One more quick & dirty ESP8266 mockup: Open Sound Control to MIDI
bridge. And this time ESP8266 runs as a WiFi access point to your mobile
device (phone or tablet) sending the OSC messages (with TouchOSC
Combined with TouchOSC this can provide an additional very configurable
control surface for one or more synthesizers (or pretty much anything
with MIDI I/O).
Similar devices already exist but with ESP8266 it could be as cheap
as £15 DIY kit compared to £50 - £150 range (I also cannot really find
anything that can act as WiFI AP instead of attaching some kind of bridge
adapter to the mobile device).
And here’s a quick demo video:
Currently (as mentioned) it’s only a mockup, but could be easily fit
into a box about twice the size of 9V battery (including the battery).
Another thumbs up to Espressif for such a cool system-on-a-chip!
After a few evenings of messing around with ESP8266 I managed to
produce a very simple display of my Strava running stats. For now
it only fetches my public profile and extracts two figures: total
and current month’s killometrage I ran with the tracker. Nothing terribly
useful and definitely nothing complicated, but it’s a fun start.
For now it simply connects to my WiFi network and starts fetching my
profile every couple minutes. Two figures (total and this month) flip
on the display every 10 seconds:
Code is bit of a mess, configuration can only be done via serial
And here’s an action shot in the kitchen:
As you can see I am not an industrial designer ;). And I should probably
go back to running, since figures in that display haven’t gone up for
last couple days.
And as I said - ESP8266 accessibility and ease of use is amazing, I’m
stoked about it.