Pcb hat adapter board

i think it’s almost cheaper and easier to build an adapter board for nrf and esp modules to interface them with different off the shelf breakout sensors and modules. This makes it easier to create, adapt, and build prototypes faster and cheaper, using readily available products. This way, u can get away from custom made pcb components placements which would add cost and lead time. It would increase the thickness of the package, however certain things can be done to keep the thickness to the minimum and the package can remain somewhat compact. What do u think?

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It highly depends on what you want to achieve and do. If you build a prototype or just want to fiddle around with things - this is a great option! Propably the cheapest option which saves cost but might increase size and also power-consumption!
Power consumption? you ask… yes, some times the DevBoards have bad voltage regulators, because they also use the cheapest they can get which make them unusable for battery powered projects some times.

But if you wanna build a Product which you might be able to make a real thing of - you can start with prototyping but you should go all-in and create your own custom design and layouts for maximum of flexibility. You should not rely on a DevBoard (and they are all only done for prototyping and easy development). At least thats my opinion :slight_smile:

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that’s true. I have variety of the esp boards, they all hav different power consumption. for battery operated device, this would be a big factor to consider.

That’s a very good point and indeed you spotted a good opportunity to reduce design complexity but that of course comes at the cost of performance and also if you want to sell it as a professional product that meets datasheet specifications, can be certified for electromagnetic interference, and so on.

Here are some examples from experience and judge by yourself

  1. STM8 on module + nRF24 on module

  1. STM8 soldered (challenge) + sensors and nRF24 on backside as modules

  1. nRF52 with embedded RF peripheral but in a module with sensors on modules. Deep sleep 10 uA


  1. Last but not least, nRF52 still on module but sensors on custom PCB. Deep sleep 3.19 uA !!!

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that’s noice. it’s exactly what im talking about. i’m more interested in cheap and quick prototyping. that other ppl can replicate easier. at most, there should b only a small few smd components that need to be soldered by hand. This will help accelerate development cycles. once everything is running good, the end step would be to make a custom pcb for optimizations.

I would have wanted to make the last gen with modules too, but the modules are not at all considered by PCB manufacturers mounting, they’re only considered by small PCB companies who solder everything by hand.
I like to think that if a product made has success, that I can replicate it in scale, and there the module approach starts to fail.
If you create a small business selling them that’s feasible, but the question would quickly come, if they’re easy to do, why would people buy them from you and not make them themselves, unless you make a consulting business and give the design for free.

imo, a complete n successful product that can scale requires an enormous amount of resources. that makes it less ideal to plan for a complete product in short term if u r not a millionaire. This is where modularity using off-the-shelf products for quick prototypings shines bc the poc can be put to test n use in the shortest time possible. This would increase test time n dev. cycles.

creating a small business at this scale makes it possible to provide products & services faster n easier with less overheads. My experience when planning for an end product is that it never comes. In the end users pov, the magic is not in the hardware but rather the software or the applications they use it for. Ppl can make the hardware themselves but they cannot make or use the apps. it is built for without getting involved. This is where u would get resources to test, develop, n maintain ur product.

In this approach, what u r selling is the services, not just the hardware. The hardware u can only sell once, most of the time it’s not worth it unless u r selling at very high price. or u can forecast that u can sell millions, this is very high risk. to get recurring incomes, it’s better to make services out of it. This way u can sell ur products at a lower price.

This approach also makes it possible to create ur own in-house production plant, using less expensive and sophisticated machinery to make products on demand while u r slowly planing for a larger scale end products.

You’re right, but you quickly jumped from the small scale production to the sophisticated production plant. Why not. I think that if you’re efficient at creating projects, you might not be interested in investing time and effort on the HW creation, any one can do that for you. And also if you have a high tech HW creation machinery, you can’t make them viable by only one produced project every now and then, which means you need to produce HW for others as well and make it your core business. So at the end, you have to wisely chose the focus and the center of your contribution. In my case, I’m thinking about Home Applications, I buy ready devices e.g. Hue light and for the sensors, I could not find the right compromise between cost and openness, they were both expensive and closed, so I started making some always connected to a full stack application.

I’m curious what your first projects will be, we can keep on the projects ideas posts in this forum with tag “idea” in this Projects category

My end goal has always been trying to utilize iot products for smart businesses and in-house production plants. Targeting business owners has many benefits: first, they hav money. second, for quick prototyping products, there are less users to support. third, they r my targeted customers for the pos application. I want to build a platform that is flexible to meet variety of use cases. So, i started with home automation. this way i get to experiment with different types of controls and sensors. Interfaces them with existing products. and build some usable applications.

right now im thinking about logging data on the esp, rasbpi, influxDb, and firebase to track salons customers using nfc cards. but first i will try to track some sensors data first.

are these female round pins headers stackable?

Yes, maybe the long ones would obviously not fit deep on the short ones, but that’s the idea, to have them stackable.

do they fit well or they kinda loose?

it depends on the product quality, you can sample some to try out. They should be quite steady.
this is another type, depending on the need

u have these correct? can u split them up? into smaller pieces, especially the female ones?

I had those once, now no longer using them, the sensors modules had male only soldered on both sides to minimize the height. I now tend to keep debug connectors unpopulated and use pogo pins or attach,

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im done with the initial design of the components layout. The extra pin headers can be used to add extension boards for stuff such as Nrf5x interfacing, Rfm95/96, Rasb pi, Bu-01, PN532, 3 Pir sensors, 1 microwave sensor, 3 flame sensors, gyro sensor, 1.8 Tft screen, xy joystick, rotary encoder, etc. Any suggestion on the current design? thanks.


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It’s not clear yet from this picture what pcb do you design, if you use a ready esp module or if you intend to use an esp chip.
Also, targetting too many use cases can bring requirements to constrain each other and end up with less common things done and more steps left open before a project is functional.
Do you attach all sensors with connectors or solder module to module ?

right now im building sensor nodes with the esp32. at the minimum i want to have an ABS sensor, Temp/Hum sensor, 3 pir sensors for multi direction detection, 1 microwave motion sensor, a display, button, and a buzzer. I also plan to add a nfc scanner, a larger display, and hardware bridge to nrf, lora, and rasp pi. So i put extra headers there to add extension later. the gray bars are females headers. Here is a picture of what it should look like once some of these components are connected to the main adapter board.

This is the previous prototype I made.