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A.I. Thinker A20 Plus ESP8266 WiFi Board Includes GPRS Support and a VGA Camera

September 15th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

A.I. Thinker, a company known for its ESP8266 module, has designed a new intriguing product with A20Plus board powered by Espressif ESP8266 (or ESP8285) WiFi SoC, that also features GPRS connectivity, and a 0.3MP camera.

a20plus-board-wifi-gprs-cameraThere’s basically no info on the “English Internet”, but Raymond Tunning found lots of info in Chinese, and posted information and links on his blog.

A20 Plus board specifications:

  • Wireless Module – A.I. Thinker A20 module with GPRS and WiFi (ESP8266 or ESP8285), two antennas connector
  • Camera – VGA camera interface (up to 640×480 resolution) compatible with OV7670, GC0308, GC0328, & GC0309 sensors.
  • Expansion – 2x headers with GPIO, ADC, power signals…
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and programming
  • Misc – Reset and user button, two LEDs (for flash?)
  • Dimensions – TBC

An Android app (binary + source code) is provide to retrieve pictures (apparently no video for now) over WiFi or GPRS.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Some other documentation in Chinese to use and program the app in Android Studio can also been found here (password: 123456), and more info about the module is available on A.I Thinker forums, where we’ll also find they have a few other modules to offer.

a6-a6c-a7-a20-module-wifi-gprs-gps-cameraA6 module only support GSM/GPRS, A6C module supports GPRS and camera (but no WiFi), and A7 module supports GPRS and GPS. Hopefully, they’ll have a 3G module soon enough, since I’m not sure GPRS is available everywhere anymore.

A20 Plus board is listed on Taobao for $49RMB (~$7.4), but shown as out of stock for now.

Via Bird on SMEoT Facebook Group

  1. leock
    September 15th, 2016 at 15:31 | #1

    Hey I got my hands on one of these A20 boards when it was on sales. I got the Android app side to work. http://imgur.com/aRgaHrF

    But does anyone know where I can get hold of the firmware that is running inside the esp8285/esp8266 inside the A20 module?

  2. September 15th, 2016 at 15:36 | #2

    Hi,

    Thx for this article 🙂

    I’m quite sure the leds are for the flash because in the “Camera” section of the datasheet in chinese(i’ve translated for the A6C: https://raymondtunning.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/best-wireless-cam-solution-a6c/) we can activate the flash, there is also a night vision mode, parameters for rotatation, white balance, exposure, brightness, contraste, image quality.
    The board was also listed on Aliexpress around the 23 August but idk exacly why they removed the boards atm, maybe because they want to change the Esp8266 for the Esp32? They use the new Esp8285 for the A20 and it seems to be a problem for the high resolution, that why the A20 is limited to a 0.3M camera. I sent an e-mail to AI-thinker about that and the A6V3 but i’ve no reply for the moment.
    i compared the toabao price with Aliexpress price for the A serie and the A20Plus is very close to the A6C so i think it will be sold around 12$ on AliExpress.

  3. September 16th, 2016 at 00:10 | #3
  4. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 03:16 | #4

    What chip is inside this? Qualcomm MSM6xx?

    Too bad 2G is in the process of being shutdown in the USA. Gotta make room for more LTE.

  5. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 03:28 | #5

    I just read some articles about the 2G shutdown. Looks like 2G will be shutdown in most of the world by the end of 2017. AT&T is the largest 2G carrier in the USA and they are turning it off end of 2016. So don’t get too excited about this module, it isn’t going to work anywhere 15 months from now.

    If you want cell connectivity I recommend USB based modems. You can get USA 3G modems for $10 in bulk. LTE ones are still $40. Advantage to USB modems is that they are easy to swap when 3G gets turned off (there are no published dates for 3G shutdown).

  6. xxiao
    September 16th, 2016 at 04:14 | #6

    @Jon Smirl
    where can you get those $10 3G modems?

  7. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 06:36 | #7

    I use this SIM card.
    Then this $10 plan is good for three months
    https://www.airvoicewireless.com/PlansB.aspx
    And can be refilled remotely
    $1/mth customer fee = $3
    $7 of data at $0.0666/MB = 105MB
    35MB/month
    $3.33/mth which is really cheap for IOT type devices.

    This is AT&T MVNO

  8. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 06:36 | #8

    This place sells a lot of choices.
    http://networldoverstock.com/
    But… their website is down today, it was working yesterday.
    I have bought about a dozen from them.
    They commonly stock the Huawei E1756C for around $12. They only sell US modems.

  9. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 06:41 | #9

    It may be possible for you to get IOT level cell service for free using Freedom pop.
    https://www.freedompop.com/offer/sim-voice-f3

    You get 200min/500 SMS/ 200MB data free each month.

    I believe this SIM is using T-Mobile.

  10. September 16th, 2016 at 07:48 | #10

    @Jon Smirl
    It’s really not easy to know when the 2G will be shutdown in the rest of the world, i think more about end 2018-2020, for exemple in Europe there is no official date exept for few countries because the 2G still important. In China it take more time than exepted, the 2G part still really important in this country and they build the Gprs/Gsm modules for the chineses first.
    Saldy i don’t understand why the 3G modules are so much expensive when i see you can have a 3G modem for 10$.

  11. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 08:00 | #11

    Networld’s ebay store is there:

    http://stores.ebay.com/networldoverstock/Aircards-Modems-Hotspots-/_i.html?rt=nc&_fsub=1011230010&_sid=74831220&_sticky=1&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14&_sop=15&_sc=1

    Unlocked ZTE MF622 3G GSM 850/1900/2​100 Mhz SMS USB
    $9 – free ship

  12. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 08:16 | #12

    I have a bunch of the ZTE models. All the ones I have tried worked plug and play or needed a minor tweek to work on Ubuntu or Android. The minor tweak is to turn off the SD Card emulator that is used to load a Windows device driver. This is a common thing you need to do on these modems, there is an AT command to disable it.

  13. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 08:49 | #13

    New LTE USB modems are down to $30
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Unlocked-Huawei-E397-E397u-53-4G-LTE-FDD-Mobile-Broadband-Modem-New-/400811336394?hash=item5d5237a2ca

    They have some used ones at $10.

    I’ve ordered some of the used 3G ones, I can’t tell they aren’t new except that they are missing the factory packaging. Most of their stock is stuff the mobile carriers can’t sell. Everything I have tried has worked. At $10 a warranty is pointless, just throw it in the trash and replace with a another one. You’ll waste more than $10 in time/postage trying to exchange a failed one. None of mine have failed.

    Do Google the model numbers first, some of these modems are real dogs and get 1 star reviews. I avoid those.

  14. September 16th, 2016 at 15:43 | #14

    @Jon Smirl
    FreedomPop seems to be US centric.

  15. Jon Smirl
    September 16th, 2016 at 23:24 | #15

    @zoobab

    I believe Freedompop operates in some EU countries, but it is mainly US focused.

    Cellular support in the US has little in common with cell support elsewhere. All of the bands and carriers are different and for a long time the majority of phones were CDMA. Maybe this will change with LTE, but there is still the TDD vs FDD hardware difference which prevents the sharing of devices between countries. I suspect all of these differences have been purposely constructed in order to keep prices high in the US. Cell plans in the US are triple the price in China.

  16. van
    September 17th, 2016 at 07:07 | #16

    @Jon Smirl
    No, not almost every country. Only advance countries do that because their people can afford to do so. The majority are still having lots of poor families and these countries cannot afford to do so.
    American has high pay and can afford to say everything is cheap and can simply dump money everywhere.

  17. Jon Smirl
    September 17th, 2016 at 19:33 | #17

    @van

    It is actually cheaper to run an LTE network than 2G. LTE is capable of processing many more calls using the same equipment and bandwidth. LTE signaling is a much more efficient use of the allocated bandwidth. Long run LTE phones should cost no more than 2G ones, LTE phones just aren’t all the way down the cost curve yet.

    The problem in America is that as the cost of providing service drops, our oligopoly running the cell network keeps raising prices.

  18. klein
    September 22nd, 2016 at 01:12 | #18

    @Jon Smirl
    maybe mediatek, i recently saw the sim800 (or other simcom, not pay attention of model) teardown and it’ve a mt6260, the same of fernvale n cheaper smartwatch.
    other maybe infineon x-gold found in cheap feature phone…
    i guess qualcomm chips are expensive and don’t known availability in short numbers for small firms, but it should be better for a open source project, msm7xx exist linux port and maybe also in msm6xx.

  19. Riaz
    February 16th, 2017 at 03:41 | #19

    Is there an Arduino ide for A20?

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