The fun part is always unwrapping all the new toys you just got! And when it comes to tiny little electronic components … there is a lot of wrapping, from anti-static bags to bubble wrap!

My favorite part is that tiny little blue heat sink. It just looks so cool! (pun intended)

DigiKey order for electronics received

3DHubs order received

And the 3d-printing just looks phenomenal. I opted for the higher quality SLA (high detail resin) printing. The texture is so smooth and basically looks just like a professional plastic part. I believe the hub I use (Node604’s Hub) applies some post processing to make the parts look smoother.

This is the CAD model of what it is supposed to look like
Here is the real thing. Fit tested!

The parts turned out very good. One thing to note (which I expected a little) is that the 3d print is not accurate to within a few thou … obviously. Its actually very difficult to 3d print a part to exactly what is shown on your computer model. This depends on the shape & size of your part. The curing & general shape will actually modify the part a little while it’s being printed.

That’s why you always want to do a “fit-test” with the first print and adjust the dimensions for future prints. It turns out the valve seat needed to be enlarged by about 0.020-inches and the Servo seats also needed some added clearance. other than that. the rest fit perfect. I was able to fix all that on my own with a couple drill bits and an exacto knife. It seems that typical SLA 3d printing shrinks your prints ever-so-slightly.

A comparison of Old model & New model

Now comes the hard part. I made the decision to upgrade the controller from an ESP8266 to an ESP32 (both are the Sparkfun variant). Now just by looking at the name, you wouldn’t think that this would be too much of an issue. But the ESP32 is not fully developed yet … It was released about 8 months ago from the date of this post (8266 was released circa 2014 … so old).

My main reasons for wanting to upgrade controller are plenty:

  1. I want to be able to push Over-the-Air software updates (ESP8266 has memory hardware limitation that prevents this)
  2. I want to add bluetooth connectivity (BLE – the low energy variant)
  3. I need a more powerful chip to add more features (ESP8266 was stalling due to heavy load on the wifi driver)
  4. built in LiPo charger (possible future upgrade)
  5. Built in Buttons (instead of having to hook up a switch)

One of the biggest challenges right now is that there is no Arduino IDE for this board yet. And it seems that the guys working on it are having a tough time. So I may have to learn something new. Espressif has its own IDF which I may be required to learn.

It seems that I’m deep in the trenches now … and I must power through. We’ll see how much I can port over and how much I have to re-invent.