Whitecat ESP32 N1 Board Combines ESP32 WiFi + Bluetooth SoC with a LoRa Transceiver, Runs Lua RTOS

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Espressif ESP32 SoC is gaining traction right now as prices have come down, and there’s still an on-going fight among LPWAN standards with LoRaWAN being fairly popular in Europe. Whitecat, a group of engineers from several companies based in Citilab, Barcelona, Spain, has designed a board that combines both ESP32 and a LoRA transceiver, bringing an alternative to Pycom LoPy board, but instead of running MicroPython, they have developed Lua-RTOS.

Whitecat ESP32 N1 hardware specifications:

  • SoC – Espressif ESP32 dual-core Tensilica LX6 microprocessor @ up to 240MHz with 520kB internal SRAM
  • Storage – 4MB flash memory
  • Connectivity
    • LoRa WAN transceiver working in the 868 (EU) MHz / 915 (USA) MHz with on-board antenna, and u.FL connector for external antenna
    • Integrated 802.11b/g/n WiFi transceiver with on-board antenna, and u.FL connector for external antenna
    • Integrated dual-mode Bluetooth (classic and BLE)
  • I/O Headers – 2x 16-pin with SPI, I2C, I2S, SDIO, UART, CAN, ETHERNET, IR, PWM, DAC, ADC.
  • Power Supply
    • 3.3 to 5.5V operating range through input voltage regulator
    • Second voltage regulator for power on / power off sensors through a dedicated GPIO
  • Dimensions – 78 x 26 mm

By default, the board runs Lua RTOS real-time operating system designed to run on embedded systems, and currently supporting ESP32, ESP8266 and PIC32MZ platforms. The OS has a  3-layer design:

  1. Top layer – Lua 5.3.4 interpreter with special modules to access the hardware (PIO, ADC, I2C, RTC, etc …), and middleware services provided by Lua RTOS (Lua Threads, LoRa WAN, MQTT, …).
  2. Middle layer – Real-Time micro-kernel powered by FreeRTOS.
  3. Bottom layer – Hardware abstraction layer, which talk directly with the platform hardware.

Lua RTOS boards can be programmed with Lua programming language directly, or using a block-based programming language that translates blocks to Lua.

ESP8622 and PIC32 targets have some limitations so features like SSL are not implemented, but ESP32 supports all features listed below:

  • Lua Thread, Pthread API
  • SSL
  • On-board editor, Shell
  • FAT and SPIFFS file systems
  • WiFi, Ethernet
  • LoRaWAN class A & B node, LoRa WAN gateway
  • ADC, SPI, UART, PIO, PWN, I2C, CAN,
  • Sensor, Servo

Bluetooth is missing from the list. You’ll find Lua RTOS source code and instructions to get started on Github. The Wiki is also also a good place to get started with ESP32 N1 Board and Lua-RTOS.

Board pricing is currently a little on the high side, as ESP32 N1 board is sold for 30 Euros without Lora, and 40 Euros with LoRa. Worldwide shipping adds 5 Euros to the total. You’ll find more details, including the purchase links, on Whitecat ESP32 N1 page.

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BCatalin
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Board is nice but the price is more then double if buy an esp32 module and a LoRa module and connect them over SPI. A right price will be less then $15.

JM
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Another board that would never pass EMI testing required for CE.

Why spend limited funds (donations) developing another board that is only a worse, more expensive, re-implementation of the existing board like the LoPy. Wouldn’t it be better if they focused on porting their Lua stack to the LoPy?

anon
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anon

Hardware is cheap cr_a_p, but software requires effort to develop and maintain, how’d you fund that without selling hardware? Oh, and btw, why do we need yet another incompatible, limited hardware support Lua fork?

Drone
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Drone

EU 40 before shipping? Another over-priced LoRa board. Sigh. Lua adds zero value IMO, so that doesn’t justify the price.