Gefinger Poken's BlinkenLights Dev Platform Is a DIY Kit for Electronics Experimentation

Packing in everything from an LED matrix to a 16×2 LCD display, this dev platform echoes the 100-in-1 electronics kits from decades ago.

Gareth Halfacree
25 days agoHW101

Pseudonymous maker Gefinger Poken has turned a low-cost Espressif ESP32 microcontroller into a multi-function lab for electronics experimentation — building up a do-it-yourself equivalent to classic 100-in-1 electronics kits dubbed the BlinkenLights Dev Platform.

"[I] wanted a compact platform for experimenting with I2C, SPI, WS2811 LEDs, a rotary encoder, and various level shifters," Poken explains of the build, which mounts all the required components to an angled board for ease of access and in doing so echoes the 100-in-1 electronics kits that were a mainstay of the technical youth's toolkit a few decades ago.

This compact kit offers a range of inputs and inputs for Espressif ESP32 experimentation. (📹: Gefinger Poken)

The bulk of the bottom half of the board is taken up by a solderless breadboard, for obvious reasons — providing an area on which you can build a circuit for testing while also hosting the level shifters that allow the varying accessories to interact at different logic levels. To the side of this is the system's driving microcontroller, a low-cost Espressif ESP32-WROOM32D development board connected to an ESP32-DEVKIT V4 breakout board.

The top half of the board, meanwhile, hosts a classic 16×2 character-based LCD display panel, an 8×8 SPI-connected single-color LED matrix, a strip of individually-addressable WS2811 RGB LEDs, and a Shenzhen Titan Micro TM1638 "LED & KEY" board that includes two four-digit seven-segment LEDs and eight push-button switches with corresponding LEDs. Finally, there's a rotary encoder to complete the setup.

More details on the build, including links to each of the boards used, are available on Poken's Reddit thread; the source code driving the platform has been published to Pastebin.

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