ESP32 TouchDown comes with 3.5-inch display for custom control interfaces

Dustin Watts developed FreeTouchDeck software to interface with Windows, macOS, Linux computers and boards over Bluetooth LE using an ESP32 board connected to a touchscreen display.

So far, he used off-the-shelf parts, but he has now decided to create his own hardware with ESP32 TouchDown open-source hardware board equipped with a 480×320 TFT display.

ESP32 TouchDown specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROOM-32D with ESP32 dual-core WiFi & Bluetooth processor,  4MB flash, PCB antenna
  • Display – 3.5-inch 480*320 TFT screen based on ILI9488 driver connected over SPI mode, plus FT6236 Capacitive Touch Controller
  • Storage – MicroSD card reader
  • USB – 1x USB-C port
  • Expansion
    • Header with I2C, SPI, 7x GPIO, 3.3V and GND
    • Stemma / JST-PH I2C connector
  • Debugging – CP2102 USB-to-UART IC
  • Misc – Piezo speaker, Power & Charge LEDs, on/off switch, boot and reset buttons,
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB-C
    • 2-pin JST connector for battery
    • APK2112 3.3V regulator
    • MCP73831 battery management IC
    • Battery voltage divider connected to GPIO35
  • OSHWA certification – NL000004

ESP32 TouchDown is open-source hardware with KiCad hardware design available on Github, and the board has been certified by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA).

While the board is mainly designed to work with FreeTouchDeck open-source software firmware, you can also program it with the Arduino IDE, and the ESP32 TouchDown repository also includes examples to control Home Assistant, create a 4×3 button matrix, a phone-style keyboard, display battery information and more.

FreeTouchDeck user interface

The combination of ESP32 TouchDown hardware and FreeTouchDeck software is meant to provide a low-cost, open-source alternative to Elgato Stream Deck. There’s a web-based configuration interface running on ESP32 to allow you to design your own custom keyboard with advanced features. The device is recognized as a Bluetooth device from your computer, board, or another hardware platform, and once connected acts as a Bluetooth keyboard. Watch the video below to see what’s possible with FreeTouchDeck.

Dustin started selling ESP32 TouchDown board for $45 on Tindie yesterday, but it looks like he underestimated the demand, and the board is now out of stock. You can still sign up to get notified of new stock, as he plans on making more.

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