Voidbox Industries' FLIP_C3 Espressif ESP32 Board Can Drink Up to 50V Without Breaking a Sweat

Designed for powering with up to 16s LiFePO4 cells, the FLIP_C3 comes pre-loaded with ESPHome for easy Home Assistant integration.

Chloe Madison's Voidbox Industries (VDBX) has designed a compact Espressif ESP32-C3 development board that supports up to a 50V input, making it easier to power from a range of battery and DC power configurations.

"The first mainboard for the FLIP platform is an ESP32-C3 board that can be deployed on any battery system up to 16s LiFePO4," Madison writes of the FLIP_C3. "It is designed for use with ESPHome, but can be flashed with other popular firmwares such as Tasmota and WLED. We have a whole line of smart products based on this as their main powerhouse."

The heart of the FLIP_C3, brought to our attention by CNX Software, is an Espressif ESP32-C3 module β€” pre-loaded by VDBX with the popular ESPHome firmware for quick integration into a Home Assistant automation setup. While it has a USB Type-C connector, though, the compact board is primarily designed to be powered on a surprisingly chunky spring-wire input β€” officially rated to up to 50V.

"V1.0 has been de-rated to 50V for live connections despite having a true max of 60V," Madison writes of the initial board design, which uses the Texas Instruments LMR16020 buck converter. "Make sure to connect at or below 50v or use a low value resistor to pre-charge the circuit. Connecting above 50V will cause a fatal in-rush spike that will kill your FLIP_C3 - we hope to improve this in future revisions."

50V is still a chunk above the usual maximum input voltage for similar ESP32-based boards, and provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to the device's power source β€” including the option to use a 14s lithium-ion or 16s LiFePO4 battery pack. All that power doesn't go to waste, either: the buck converter can deliver up to 10W of power on the board's 5V rail, Madison says, however, that active cooling may be required when drawing more than 5W.

The board also includes a single on-board WS2812B RGB LED with a digital output pin for "short runs" of addressable RGB LEDs, a user-programmable red status LED, I2C and UART on Qwiic/STEMMA QT headers found round the rear of the board, physical boot and reset switches, and 11 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins plus four more on the Qwiic/STEMMA QT headers.

More information on the board is available on the VDBX website, with design files on OSHW Lab under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license; assembled boards, with unpopulated pin headers, are available on the VDBX Tindie store at $20 each.

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