M5Stack Core2 Upgrades the All-in-One Dev Platform to a Dual-Core ESP32, Adds Capacitive Touch

The design is familiar, but the Core2 offers considerably more performance than its ESP8266-based predecessor.

Gareth Halfacree
5 months agoInternet of Things

Four years on from its highly-successful crowdfunding campaign, M5Stack is back with a new development board design: The M5Stack Core2, featuring an ESP32-based dual-core system-on-chip (SoC) behind a capacitive touchscreen display.

The original M5Stack Core launched on Kickstarter four years ago, offering a compact all-in-one development platform built around the Espressif ESP8266 microcontroller and with a rear-mounted expansion part which allowed the main unit to be stacked on top of expansion modules — hence the name.

The M5Stack Core2, then, doesn't tamper with the core concept, but enhances it: The ESP8266 has been replaced with a more powerful dual-core 240MHz ESP32 coupled with 8MB of pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM) and 16MB of external flash, the colour LCD panel now includes capacitive touchscreen capabilities, and there's a real-time clock and vibration motor for tactile feedback.

Elsewhere in the compact housing is a 390mAh battery for on-the-go use, linked to an EXP192 power management integrated circuit (PMIC) — the latter of which not only controls charging and discharging of the battery but also provides real-time monitoring for power consumption. There's a 1W speaker, a microSD slot for up to 16GB additional storage, and a bundled but technically independent expansion board which provides a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and microphone.

As with its predecessor, the M5Stack Core2 offers compatibility with the Arduino IDE and MicroPython in addition to M5Stack's in-house UIFlow — a visual development platform designed specifically for the Internet of Things and built around Google's Blockly.

The M5Stack Core2 is now available from the official M5Stack website, priced at $39.90 per unit.

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