ESP32-C3 AWS IoT ExpressLink module & devkit aim to ease connection to AWS IoT services

Amazon and Espressif have launched another wireless module with the ESP32-C3 AWS IoT ExpressLink module together with a development kit supporting out-of-the-box AWS IoT connectivity, following their earlier collaboration with the launch of the ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO Alexa Connect Kit Module last summer.

Also called the “ESP32-C3-MINI-1-N4-A”, the ESP32-C3 AWS IoT ExpressLink module implements the AWS IoT ExpressLink specification and provides AWS IoT Core connectivity to a host MCU via AT commands over a UART interface. Pre-provisioned and pre-programmed with ease integration the module supports WiFi configuration, messaging, OTA, and device management.

 

ESP32-C3 AWS ExpressLink DevKitThe compact (16.6 x 13.2mm) ESP32-C3 module is currently offered as part of the ESP32-C3-AWS-ExpressLink-DevKit development board following the Arduino Zero board form factor allowing it to be plugged into the Arduino board, or easily connect to other host systems such as the Raspberry Pi. The goal is to simplify the deployment of IoT solutions removing the need for developers to maintain complex firmware, and offering end-to-end security and fleet management out of the box.

The key components from the development kit include:

  • Wireless module ESP32-C3-MINI-1-N4-A based on the existing ESP32-C3-MINI-1 general-purpose ESP32-C3FN4 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE combo module with 4MB flash, PCB antenna, but programmed with customized firmware.
  • USB – Micro USB port for power and programming
  • Expansion Header compatible with Arduino Zero with 1.8V to 5V level shifter
  • Debugging – JTAG connector compatible with ESP-PROG debugging board
  • Misc – Power LED, power switch, reset button, RGB LED
  • Power Supply – 5V DC input plus 5V to 3.3 V
ESP32-C3 AWS ExpressLink DevKit block diagram
Block Diagram

I’ve never heard about Amazon IoT ExpressLink before, so let’s have a look at the main features offered by Amazon:

  • Cloud connectivity – The solution enables a secure and direct connection to the cloud without the need for specialized knowledge.
  • Integration with AWS IoT services through:
    • AWS IoT Core messaging – Two-way connection with AWS IoT Core through native support of the MQTT (publish/subscribe) communication mechanism.
    • AWS IoT Device Shadow – Device shadows communicate a device’s state to apps and other services regardless of whether that device is currently connected
    • Support for over 200 AWS services including cloud storage services (Amazon Simple Storage Service [S3]), computing services (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud [EC2]) for customer sensor data processing, analytics (AWS IoT SiteWise), as well as AI and ML modeling and analysis (Amazon SageMaker).
  • Security
    • Pre-provisioned hardware root of trust to enable secure device and account authentication
    • AWS IoT Device Defender, a “managed service designed to help secure device fleets with continuous IoT configuration auditing to monitor for anomalies and any deviation from security best practices”.
  • Device fleet management with OTA update and fleet health monitoring through the AWS IoT Device Management console and Device Defender

 

AWS IoT ExpressLink Module

Amazon says the development time can be slashed from years to weeks. I have the feeling this may be true for developers unfamiliar with embedded software development, and who already learned how to use AWS IoT ExpressLink, because if you ask me most Amazon offerings are usually pretty confusing (to me), and I’d imagine there’s a non-negligeable learning curve.

You may find a few more details on the product pages on Amazon and Espressif System websites with the latter coming with a user guide and schematic. I could not find a link to purchase the developer kit online, and instead, people are being asked to purchase it through the Espressif sales team.

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