The i.MX RT Family Makes for Some Feature Filled Feathers!

The i.MX series from NXP, in a Feather form factor.

Tom Fleet
3 months agoHardware 101
Teensy 4.0

You may have heard the news of the recent release of the PJRC Teensy 4.0 development board. With some serious specs around it, and a nice diminutive form factor, it's a powerful, pint-sized punch!

However, there are some caveats when working the new Teensy, as Paul Stoffregen has reverted to the shape and footprint of the older, Teensy 2.0. This can make for some frustration when trying to shoehorn all that power into your stack of existing FeatherWings and shields.

(There is a Teensy/Feather adaptor available from Adafruit, though it is left to the reader to ensure pin compatibility!)

If you would rather not add to the stack height of your project, you'll be relieved to see Arturo182 hard at work on two new projects (at the same time, no less!); a pair of Feather MCU boards based on the same i.MX range of chips.

These are some pretty densely laid out boards; there's a lot going on in a pretty small space. Let's take the time to review some of the common features:

  • Adafruit Feather form factor pinouts!
  • Both boards feature an NXP i.MX series processor.
  • USB-C connection for power and data. It is important to remember USB-C is the physical connection here, and the underlying power / data are USB 2.0 spec.
  • CircuitPython compatability!
  • RGB status LED (used for bootloader status indication with CircuitPython).
  • Battery charging for Lithium Ion cells, via the ubiquitous 2.0mm JST connector.

i.MX1062

Almost as if plucked straight from a digital robin, this bright red feather does anything *but* float on the breeze!

Featuring the same winning combo as found on the Teensy 4.0, this is a veritable powerhouse, ready to enable even the most ambitions feather projects.

In addition to the feather I/O standard headers, there is an extra expansion header bringing out a suite of pins to enable you to take advantage of the i.MX1062's very capable display interface. The i.MX1062 is capable of driving panels up to WXGA resolution, which is a whopping resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels! However, if you are running "headless", then you are free to use all of those pins for oodles of GPIO!

i.MX1011 - With Extra ESP32!

The i.MX1011 board trades in the extra I/O afforded by its brothers BGA package, in favour of a hand-solderable QFP package. In place of the display extension header found on the i.MX1062 board above, we find a a familiar friend in the form of the ESP32, complete with all the RF components.

While the ESP32 is a very capable part in itself, Arturo has used it here as a Wi-Fi co-processor. This little beast can quite happily host a Wi-Fi AP or generate context-rich sensor reports on its own, while leaving the even-more-powerful of the board duo to focus on running CircuitPython stack, or anything else you can think of!

While these boards are still under development at the time of writing, we can see from Arturo’s Twitter feed that he is getting pretty close to signing off on them, at which point he intends to release full hardware sources!

And as we've seen Arturo throw his hand at hardware before, with the recent release of his "Serpente" SAM D21 boards, we have high hopes that we'll see these for sale on his Tindie store soon also!

Follow Arturo on Twitter.

Tom Fleet
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