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NEWS Arduino

Arduino Nano ESP32 S3 Review: A Powerful Upgrade for IoT Projects

DFRobot Sep 19 2023 6481

Arduino Uno is undoubtedly the best choice for beginners, while the Arduino Nano is the best choice for breadboard projects.

However, due to memory and processing speed limitations, you may gradually abandon them.

Just recently, Arduino released a new Nano development board, and to our surprise, it is an Arduino Nano development board based on ESP32, making it the first Arduino board based on ESP32.

The official video mainly emphasizes that this board is compatible with the Arduino IoT Cloud and can be programmed using C++ or MicroPython.

Arduino Nano ESP32 S3

Let's explore the other features of this Arduino Nano ESP32 S3.

 

Appearance

The Arduino Nano ESP32 is actually the seventh member of the Arduino Nano family:

When you get the Arduino Nano ESP32 S3, the most attractive aspect is its size. Let's compare the old Nano (based on ATmega328) with this new Arduino Nano ESP32 S3.

Arduino Nano ESP32 S3 Dimension

Arduino Nano ESP32 S3 Mini Size

As you can see, the size is the same, and the pin layout is similar, but the difference in performance between the two is huge.

 

Microcontroller

Arduino Nano ESP32 S3 Microcontroller

The Arduino Nano ESP32 is based on the u-blox Nora W10610b module, which includes an ESP32 S3 microcontroller. This is a 32-bit dual-core microcontroller with a clock speed of up to 240 MHz (compared to the old Nano with only 16 MHz). It has 384 KB of ROM and 512 KB of static random-access memory (SRAM) and can also use 16 KB of SRAM in low-power mode. It provides 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5. The Nano ESP32 also has an additional 16 MB external flash chip. As advertised in the official video, you can program the Nano ESP32 using C++ or MicroPython.

 

Special Features

One interesting feature of this board is that it uses a switched-mode step-down converter instead of the low dropout regulator found on most boards.

Special Features of Arduino Nano ESP32 S3

This provides you with greater flexibility in power supply, allowing you to provide any voltage between 6V and 21V to the V-in pin.

Special Features of Arduino Nano ESP32 S3

The board also has an RGB LED that you can use for interesting effects, such as cycling around colours. However, it lacks built-in battery charging functionality, which is a bit disappointing. So if you want to power it with a battery, you'll need to do it yourself. It's not difficult because there are many battery control boards to choose from, but many other boards come with this feature by default. Arduino provides rich documentation for the Nano ESP32, which is excellent.

 

Pinout

Arduino Nano ESP32 S3 Pinout Diagram

Here's another interesting point.

Arduino has performed some pin remapping in the Arduino framework, so when using the Nano ESP32 S3, you need to use the Arduino pin numbers.

The advantage of doing this is that all existing Arduino Nano examples and expansion boards can be used without any issues. You can make the Nano ESP32 S3 work with the Arduino framework within the platform I/O (you need to use the cutting edge platform code from GitHub). However, you must use Arduino pin numbers, not GPIO pin numbers.

This may cause confusion when using the actual pins for those who are accustomed to ESP32 boards.

Again, remember not to use GPIO pin numbers in Arduino functions.

Arduino Nano ESP32 S3 GPIO
 

Tech specs

  • Wireless module: u-Blox NORA-W106-10B with
                 MCU: ESP32-S3 dual-core Xtensa LX7 microcontroller @ up to 240 MHz with vector extensions, 512KB SRAM, 384KB ROM, WiFi 4 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
                 Memory: 8MB PSRAM
                 Embedded PCB antenna
                 Dimensions: 14.3 x 10.4 x 1.8 mm
  • Storage: 16MB flash
  • USB : 1x USB Type-C port for power and programming
  • I/Os
                 2x 15-pin expansion headers with 14x GPIOs, 13x LED pins, 5x PWM, 8x analog inputs, 2x UART, 1x I2C, 1x SPI, reset, and power signals (+5V, +3.3V, GND, Vin, AREF, …)
                 3.3V I/O (not 5V tolerant)
                 Source current per I/O pin: 40 mA
                 Sink current per I/O pin: 28 mA
  • Misc: Reset button, and 2x LEDs
  • Power Supply
                 5V via USB
                 6-21V via Vin pin on headers
  • Dimensions: 45 x 18 mm compatible with the original Arduino Nano

 

Suitable Projects and Users

As mentioned in the official Arduino video, THAT’S I(o)T! The Arduino Nano ESP32 S3 is perfect for IoT projects. This board is compatible with the Arduino IoT Cloud and, with the Arduino IDE and its comprehensive library functions, combined with the powerful ESP32 S3, you can remotely control your IoT projects and meet a wide range of IoT project requirements.

If you are part of the Arduino ecosystem (you have many projects using Arduino Nano or its shields), then, without a doubt, this board is highly recommended because of its size and pin compatibility, and you can get the power of ESP32-S3, which opens up more possibilities for your projects.

If you are part of the ESP32 ecosystem and only occasionally use the Arduino framework, you may need to consider it more carefully because there may be cheaper alternatives with similar functionality. Another point to consider is that switching between ESP32 boards and remapping the pins may cause some inconvenience.

REVIEW