German maker Matthias "bitluni" Balwierz has developed a solution to one of the biggest drawbacks of the popular ESP32-Cam programmable camera board: the lack of USB programming capabilities. Enter the cam-prog.
The ESP32-Cam board launched around a year ago, pairing an Espressif ESP32-S microcontroller with a microSD card slot and an FPC connector supporting the OV2640 and OV7670 camera modules. While popular, thanks to its compact size and low cost, the ESP32-Cam has one major drawback: There's no USB programming port, requiring instead the use of an external programmer. Until, that is, you add in bitluni's cam-prog.
"The cam-prog is a simple ESP32-Cam programmer that adds the missing USB programming capabilities to the wide spread EPS32-based camera microcontroller," bitluni explains. "It implements also the boot mode selection overcoming the missing reset pin by cutting off power to the microcontroller. This simplifies the programming of the cam module significantly since no manual reset and boot mode selection is needed when using with a common USB to serial interface.
"I made this board initially for myself since I have many projects with that camera in mind and I'm a lazy person but I hope you enjoy it as well."
The cam-prog board uses the popular CH340 serial USB chip, and includes the ability to program the ESP32-Cam from the Arduino IDE using the ESP32 board definitions — something that was missing from the ESP32-Cam at launch. The board has already found use in bitluni's large-scale LED wall project, which takes its input from the ESP32-Cam and processes it for real-time display.
The cam-prog board is priced at $10 on bitluni's Tindie store, though initial stock has sold out; interested parties can register their emails to be informed when more are available.