Dustin Watts' ESP32 TouchDown Is an Upgraded, Redesigned FreeTouchDeck with Capacitive Touch

Designed as a low-cost alternative to the Elgato StreamDeck, the ESP32 TouchDown offers a range of upgrades over the original FreeTouchDeck.

Maker Dustin Watts has upgraded his FreeTouchDeck project, released late last year, to create the ESP32 TouchDown — replacing the resistive touch display for a capacitive touch equivalent, and putting an ESP32-WROOM-32D module directly on the PCB to reduce the device's height.

The original FreeTouchDeck was designed as a low-cost, sub-$20 alternative to the Elgato StreamDeck macro pad. Built around an ESP32 development board behind a resistive touch TFT display, the FreeTouchDeck offers browser-based configuration and a six-tile interface with up to five sub-sections.

"While working on FreeTouchDeck, I really wanted to use capacitive touch. Unfortunately, most modules I could find where resistive touch and capacitive touch has a much nicer user experience," Watts explains of his redesigned board, the ESP32 TouchDown. "While I was designing [the ESP32 TouchDown], it made sense to put the ESP32 on the board itself, removing the need for an ESP32 dev board."

"I wanted to take full advantage of the ESP32 wireless capabilities (Wi-Fi, BLE) so I included a battery management circuit. ESP32 TouchDown can run off a LiPo battery and also charge it. ESP32 TouchDown works out of the box (as ESP32 Dev Module) with the Arduino IDE, providing you have installed the ESP32 Arduino Core."

The redesigned board uses a 480x320 TFT display with a capacitive touch controller and a custom board with ESP32-WROOM-32D surface-mount module, battery-management circuitry, USB-to-UART bridge, USB Type-C for data and power, microSD slot for storage, a passive buzzer, a Stemma-style I2C connector, 12 broken-out general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins, and full Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity.

Full details on the ESP32 TouchDown can be found on the project's GitHub repository, where the hardware design files and software are published under the permissive MIT License and GNU General Public Licence 3.0 respectively.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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