The ESPLight, an Open Source LED Controller for IoT

ESPLight prototype

Open Source hardware is one of the best things that can happen in the IoT space. I’m also a big supporter of makers branching out and trying to sell their projects to the public. The ESPLight is an opensource LED controller based on the ever popular ESP8266 letting hackers and makers control their RGB LED strips over the internet of things. It’s available on kickstarter now, and I got in contact with the maker Michiel Brink to talk about his project.

The ESPLight

I personally backed this project so I spent some time looking at the circuit. This board is built around the ESP-12 to take advantage of the extra GPIO and low SMD profile. The LEDs are driven by three IRL540 power MOSFETs (datasheet). The design also features a button to update or install new firmware to the device, however the final product will have buttons to reset and put the device into an access point mode.

Michiel was kind enough to break out all the pins on the ESP-12 in what looks like standard 2.54 mm (.1 in) spacing. This lets makers and hackers add what ever hardware they want to maybe turn this into a motion sensor or LED game. I will probably add headers to mine to allow for some rapid prototyping.

ESPLight Board

The kickstarter has options to get this board as a unsoldered kit, or as a complete board. You can get it with the preinstalled android ESPLight server firmware or without it if you want to experiment with the programming a bit. You can also get this with a laser cut wood case if you want to finish off the project.

About the Maker

Michiel Brink is a member of Tkkrlab, a maker/hackerspace in the Netherlands. He is a hacker and Ham radio guy. I got to ask him a few questions about his design goals and thoughts on the project.

“I wanted to connect the LED strips in our hackerspace / makerspace to the network a very long time ago. When the ESP8266 came out, I had to design a PCB to fulfil this dream. When I found out that there was a lot of enthusiasm, I wanted to spread it. But before this, the PCB needed to be expanded and there needed to be designed consumer-friendly software. So I started a Kickstarter.”

Michiel also thinks people should get out and play with his board. When asked about who he thought his potential user base was he made it clear he wants makers to tweak the programming. “Anyone who has LED strips at home. It’s open source, so every maker should program his own firmware for it, and every gadget lover need it to because they can control their LED strips with the stock firmware with an awesome android APP.”

Go Back This!

The ESPLight needs your help! Its clear Michiel has put a lot of work into this board and it would be a shame to not get funded. I encourage everybody to get out and back this project and help grow the maker community.

I hope to build this board with my own custom firmware that I will be posting to github. This is perfect for people looking to control lights from their phones or computer. Anybody interested should go fund this Wifi LED controller right now!

Please leave me a comment below to let me know what you think about this project. Give your feedback on what you would like to do with this board. Find me on facebook or twitter and we can talk about other open source IoT projects.