Several years ago, we covered Zsun WiFi card reader a tiny USB card reader with WiFi and a battery that allowed users to access files via USB or WiFi from any device. People managed to hack the device and run OpenWrt on the little MicroSD card reader, but this required either to open the hardware and do some soldering, or use another method that could potentially brick the hardware, so not an ideal solution.
But now Akshar Vastarpara has come with a similar device. Maypole is an open-source hardware MicroSD card reader powered by Espressif ESP32 processor providing both WiFi and the resources for smarter storage. It comes with an optional battery too to access files even without having to connect it to a USB port.
Maypole hardware specifications:
- Storage – Swappable MicroSD cards up to 32GB
- Wireless Connectivity
- 2.4 GHz WiFi 4 via ESP32 WiSoC,
- Up to 4 to 5 clients
- Access Point (AP) or station (STA) mode
- Auto-Connect & Disconnect
- Bluetooth LE 4.2/5.x
- Ceramic antenna
- USB – USB Type-A host interface
- Misc – Reset button
- Power – 5V via USB port or optional battery up to up to 500 mAh; on-board charging circuit
- Dimensions – TBD
Maypole is not just like a dumb card reader though. It will know when files are updated, so it will disconnect itself from the host using it as a mass storage device before updating the set of files that it makes available over USB, and then reconnects automatically.
Some of the use cases include wireless storage for printers, sewing machines, CNC routers, video projects, laboratory equipment, digital picture frames, and so on. It could also act as a USB <-> WiFi gateway for all sorts of applications.
Maypole launched on Crowd Supply a little while ago. Rewards start at $29 for the device without battery or $35 with a 3.7V/370mAh LiPo battery. Shipping adds $8 to the US, and (probably) a bit more to the rest of the world. Delivery is scheduled to start a little before mid-April 2021.