Paul Price's Bee Motion Mini Gets a Big Sibling: Meet the ESP32-S2-Powered Bee Motion PIR Board

Dropping down to an older ESP32 model, the bigger Bee Motion includes GPIO expansion and USB connectivity — but loses Bluetooth support.

Developer Paul Price is back with another motion-sensing development board, this time adding in features that many may have missed from his footprint-optimized initial design: the Bee Motion Mini now has a big sibling, unsurprisingly called the Bee Motion.

Price launched the Bee Motion Mini back in March, offering a small-footprint board built around an Espressif ESP32-C3 module and a passive infrared motion sensor. As one of the newer models in the ESP32 families, the ESP32-C3 includes a 32-bit RISC-V processor core — as will all future ESP32 models, the company's president and chief executive confirmed last week — running at up to 160MHz and with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 Low Energy (BLE) and Long Range (LR) support.

What it lacked, however, was much in the way of expandability: The board had no USB, relying on an unpopulated pin-header to the side for data with a JST connector for battery power, and did not break out any of the ESP32-C3's unused general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins — which is where the full-size Bee Motion comes in.

The Bee Motion is, like its predecessor, built around an ESP32 module — but this time uses the ESP32-S2-Mini, an earlier ESP32 module model which has an Xtensa LX7 core running at up to 240MHz, 320kB of static RAM (SRAM), and 128kB of on-chip flash plus 4MB extra embedded, but while Wi-Fi is still supported there's no Bluetooth radio. Alongside this is a similar dome-type passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor to the original Bee Motion Mini, which offers a 120° field of view and a 15 foot range.

The key addition to the board: Unpopulated GPIO headers to either side, breadboard-friendly and offering access to plenty of the ESP32-S2's features including analog inputs and capacitive touch sensing. There's a USB Type-C connector for data and power this time around, along with a battery charge controller which can pull power from the USB port — though the JST connector for a battery is supplied unsoldered, as its position on the back mean it gets in the way during breadboard operation.

The Bee Motion is now available to order on Price's Tindie store, priced at $19.99 including pin headers and JST connector; schematics and STL files for a 3D-printed case are available on the project's GitHub repository under an unspecified open source license.

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