Bring on the Boards

Keeping you in the loop on the latest dev boards and community goings-on

Once each month, we’ll have Make Editor David Groom give us an update on dev boards. Here’s the first installment. It is brought to you by DigiKey.

On a train testing out the Walter board. (Photo by David Groom)

You are likely familiar with our annual Boards Guide, the latest cover of which (Volume 87) can be seen in all of its glory below. We’re already hard at work on this year’s guide (Volume 91), but we thought it would be fun to bring you more regular updates from the world of development boards and share what is on our workbench, which is why you’re reading this now! Our goal is to keep you in the loop on the latest from the big names like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Adafruit, Seeed, and SparkFun, while also uncovering exciting boards from smaller players for your edification and delectation.

Table of Contents


Our first board this month comes from DPTechnics in Belgium. Their latest project, the whimsically named “Walter,” is an ESP32-S3 based system-on-module (SoM) that features a really nice Sequans GM02SP LTE-M/NB-IoT 5G modem and GNSS receiver. Combined with the built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi from the ESP32 SoC, the result is an uber-connected low-power prototyping solution for remote sensing and control applications. In fact, its 9.8uA deep sleep mode means it can last for over 34 years on a single 3000mAh 18650 cell. But when Water is awake and interfacing with sensors, DPTechnics offers the delightfully named “Walter Feels” carrier board, which provides battery management, various sensors, and a plethora of connectors and interfaces. Both are available on Crowd Supply for delivery in September, with more information available now on GitHub.

ePulse Feather C6

Let’s take a look at another low-power device that arrived at Boards HQ recently: the ESP32-C6 ePulse Feather C6, from Zurich, Switzerland-based open-source hardware specialists ThingPulse. As you may already have guessed, this board conforms to Adafruit’s Feather form factor, meaning it’s breadboardable and compatible with a huge range of FeatherWing add-ons. With only 18uA required for deep sleep, the Feather C6 is another current-sipping powerhouse, built around Espressif’s dual-RISC-V ESP32-C6. This also gives the Feather Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, Zigbee, and Thread (IEEE 802.15.4), the latter making it ideal for Matter-based home automation projects. In addition to the LiPo charging that is required per the Feather spec, and a USB-C connector that it thankfully becoming more common, the ThingPulse board sets itself apart with its MAX17048 fuel gauge chip, giving you accurate insight into battery status over I2C. The ePulse Feather C6 is available directly from ThingPulse, and more information, as well as examples, can be found on GitHub.

Grove Vision AI Module v2

I’ve been a practitioner of embedded machine learning for a number of years, and much like other areas of AI, it’s gone from requiring a fair amount of technical understanding in order to use, to becoming accessible to a wide audience. Seeed have been doing a lot in this space lately, and I’m particularly excited by their new Grove Vision AI Module v2.

While most of the Arm-based boards I’ve used lately are M4-based, this new module features the more powerful Cortex-M55 core, plus a dedicated Ethos-U55 NPU machine learning processor. It requires a Raspberry Pi-compatible camera module for machine vision, so I added an OV5647-62 via the standard CSI interface. In addition to the onboard Himax WiseEye2 HX6538 chip, it includes headers for an additional XIAO co-processor, in order to interface with the Grove Vision from more familiar environments such as Arduino, via I2C or UART serial. But what I found really exciting is the out-of-the box compatibility with Seeed’s Sensecraft AI, which is a browser-based tool that allows you to upload ready-to-use machine learning models, such as person and gesture detection, without installing anything at all. From there, you can even set up rules like “turn on the LED when a person is detected with 90% confidence or greater.” It’s a great way to experience embedded ML hands-on without writing a single line of code. Like most Seeed products, the Grove Vision V2 is available from Digi-Key, and more information can be found on Seeed’s wiki.

Open Hardware Summit 2024

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Open Source Hardware Organization (OSHWA)’s 2024 Open Hardware Summit, in Montreal, Canada. This annual conference focuses on open-source hardware and its impact on the global community. It’s one of the most inclusive and enlightening experiences I’ve ever had, and in addition to having a ton of fun connecting with friends new and old, I came away with a wealth of fresh knowledge and abilities. In addition to incredible talks on educational equity, repurposing obsolete tech, and bringing open-source products to market, I learned how to make a paper jellyfish create music, an easy way to test fabrics and other materials’ conductivity, how to embed electronics into hand-made paper, and collaborated with a couple of dozen other folks to create an interactive electronic art mural.

Lee Wilkins, Make Contributor and David Sandys, DigiKey at Open Source Hardware (photo by marc laverlochere)

I took a train from Windsor to Montreal, and was able to hack on various projects en route, including the above-mentioned Walter, which allowed me to track my location and other environmental aspects of my trip.

As part of their goal to ensure every aspect of the event is as accessible as possible, OSHWA have made all of the talks available to watch online. I strongly suggest you give them a look if you were unable to attend (or if you were there but missed some, such as the Asynchronous Talk on Skill Trees by Steph Piper). And if you are able, I highly recommend you attend next year’s reliably excellent event.

Makers of Makerspaces

Join Dale Dougherty and a panel of makerspace leaders for a conversation about the challenges of running a community-based makerspace. Some makerspaces closed during Covid, while others survived and some even prospered.  We will learn more about how these makerspaces are doing, whether their membership has changed and what are some of the priorities and plans for the future. We want to promote the sharing of ideas and lessons learned among the people who lead and operate makerspaces.  

Our panelists include:

  • John Rhymes - Red Mountain Makers, Birmingham, AL

  • Dave Dalton - Hammerspace Workshop, Kansas City, MO

  • Thomas Pupo - Moonlighter FabLab, Miami, FL

  • Donnell Layne - iMake Innovation Center Makerspace at Moreno Valley College, Moreno Valley, CA

  • Jade Garrett - Positive Deviancy, Makerspace development in Portland, OR and Oahu, HI

  • Jondale Stratton - Knox Makers, Knoxville, TN

  • Jeff Johnson - Chatt*Lab, Chattanooga, TN

  • Jeremy Hanson - Seattle Makers, Seattle, WA

Webinar registration for this event is exclusively for premium subscribers of Make:, yet it will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube for everyone to enjoy. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you’re missing out! Sign up ASAP at to take part in fun activities like this fireside chat!

What boards are you using, or excited to try? Next month we’ll be sharing our hands-on impressions of Arduino’s Alvik robot and Nano Matter board, as well as the latest from our favourite hardware innovators, big and small. Feel free to get in touch: [email protected] – until next time,

David J. Groom, Head Boards Boffin