NodeMCU ESP32-C3 WiFi & BLE IoT boards show up for about $4

ESP32-C3 RISC-V IoT processor with 2.4 WiFI and Bluetooth LE 5.0 was unveiled in December 2020, and Espressif Systems’ own ESP32-C3-DevKitM-1  board has been available in limited quantities as an “engineering sample”.

But now I’ve noticed third-party NodeMCU ESP32-C3 boards are being sold on Aliexpress for around $4 with ESP32-C3S_Kit and ESP-C3-01M-Kit both based on AI Thinker ESP32-C3 modules announced a few months ago.

NodeMCU ESP32-C3S_KIt

NodeMCU ESP32-C3S boardSpecifications:

  • Wireless module – AI Thinker ESP32-C3S (footprint compatible with ESP32-S / ESP32-WROOM-32D) with ESP32-C3 RISC-V processor @ 160 MHz, 2.4 GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, 4MB flash, on-board PCB antenna, and IPEX connector (which may be soldered or not).
  • USB – Micro USB port for power and programming via CH340C USB to TTL chip
  • Expansion – 2x 15-pin headers with GPIO, SPI, UART, ADC, I2S, 3.3V, GND
  • Misc – RGB LED, Reset key, user-programmable key
  • Dimensions – 49 x 26 mm
ESP32-C3 IPEX connector
With or without IPEX connector

ESP32-C3S_Kit is also called ESP-C3-32S-Kit with the datasheet available on AI Thinker website. You’ll find the board for $4.29 on Aliexpress, or the just module for around $2.50.

NodeMCU ESP-C3-01M-Kit

ESP-C3-01-M developmentkitThis board has pretty much the same features but in a more compact form factor, provided height does not matter, and fewer I/O pins.

ESP-C3-01M kit specifications:

  • Wireless module – AI Thinker ESP-C3-01M (previously known as ESP32-C3M) compatible with ESP-01M,  with ESP32-C3 RISC-V processor @ 160 MHz, 2.4 GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, 4MB flash, and an on-board PCB antenna.
  • USB – Micro USB port for power and programming via CH340C USB to TTL chip
  • Expansion – 2x 10-pin headers with GPIO, UART, SPI, ADC, I2S, 3.3V, GND
  • Misc – RGB LED, Reset key, user-programmable key
  • Dimensions – Approx 30 x 26 mm

NodeMCU ESP32-C3-01M Kit

Note that one of the SPI interfaces is gone. Again, you’ll find the datasheet on AI Thinker website. The board is slightly cheaper at $3.55, but in my case shipping is more expensive.

Software support

None of the Aliexpress pages point to software resources for the NodeMCU ESP32-C3 boards. But AI Thinker documentation website has a dedicated section for ESP32-C3 modules and development boards. The company points to the ESP-IDF framework and offers a WeChat applet Bluetooth + WiFi dual control application demo together with source code. There’s no support for NodeMCU Lua firmware at this time.

The documentation also included datasheets for three more boards in a form factor similar to NodeMCU ESP32-C3S_KIt, but with other modules from the company:

  • ESP-C3-12F_Kit with ESP-C3-12F module equipped with 2MB or 4MB flash, and IPEX antenna connector
  • ESP-C3-13U_Kit with ESP-C3-13U module equipped with 2MB or 4MB flash, and IPEX antenna connector
  • ESP-C3-13_Kit with ESP-C3-13 module equipped with 4MB flash, on-board antenna, and IPEX antenna connector

AI-Thinker ESP32-C3 development boards

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6 Comments
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Frank Earl
14 days ago

It really looks like a vastly improved 8266. I think I am interested in it for that reason alone.

Willy
Willy
14 days ago

I agree, the 12F looks great. Also, the use of 115200 bps by default will get rid of all the trouble caused by the horrible 74880 bps that plagues the 8266. And with 5 times the RAM, it could do a lot. It would be great to see Lua ported to it with that amount of resources available!

GuidoL
GuidoL
14 days ago

Also 400k SRAM? Here I did only read about Flash-Memory 🙁

Clark Mills
Clark Mills
14 days ago

ESP32’s typically have two cores which helps with rf / userspace stability.
I absolutely applaud the new core and have just bought some but will be curious to see how we get on. Obviously the dual core parts are under way but it’s something to keep an eye on. Couldn’t see an Ultra Low Power processor in there either.

Philipp Blum
Philipp Blum
13 days ago

And I bought a couple. Was looking for the RISC-V ESP for a while. Finally it is available.

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