NodeMCU Launches Sub-$5 Espressif ESP32-C3 RISC-V Development Boards

NodeMCU first out of the gate with a pair of board designs, now available, built around AI Thinker ESP32-C3 modules.

The first commercial development boards featuring Espressif's RISC-V-based ESP32-C3, a drop-in replacement for the popular ESP8266, have appeared on the market — costing as little as $4 a piece.

Espressif's hand was tipped late last year when the ESP32-C3 was leaked ahead of a formal announcement. "ESP32-C3 attempts to address the most common needs for connected devices," the company wrote in its formal confirmation of the launch.

"Security is of prime importance. Even the lowest-cost connectivity solution needs to provide an appropriate level of security for common security threats. Bluetooth Low Energy availability is useful for improving user experience and field diagnostics. While cost is a very important parameter, the availability of sufficient memory for common use-cases is equally important."

Designed to be pin compatible with designs built for the ESP8266, the ESP32-C3 offers a single 32-bit RISC-V core running at up to 160MHz, 400kB of static RAM (SRAM), built-in 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0, along with a total of 22 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins.

A confirmation is not a launch, however, and with Espressif's own development kit only sampling to selected customers those eager to try the part out have been watching the market closely — and are now rewarded with a pair of NodeMCU parts.

First spotted by CNX Software, the new NodeMCU ESP32-C3S-Kit and ESP-C3-01M-Kit are compact development boards built around the AI Thinker ESP32-CS3 module. Both include 4MB of flash memory on top of the core ESP32-C3 features with either 2x 15-pin or 2x 10-pin GPIO headers, alongside a user-programmable button and RGB LED.

Both boards are now available via the AliExpress marketplace, priced at $4.05 for the ESP-C3S-Kit or $3.55 for the ESP-C3-01M-Kit; the module alone, meanwhile, is available via the first link and priced at $2.43 per unit.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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