ESP32 Feels Less Disorienting This Time

Seeing all the interesting projects built with an ESP32 has made me interested in learning more about the popular platform, but it wouldn’t be real until I dedicate the time and focus to build some projects of my own. My micro Sawppy project might be the motivation I needed to get down to business.

Querying in this blog’s history, I was embarrassed to realize that it’s been over two years since I first thought I would build something with an ESP32. My first exposure to the fire hose of information online was overwhelming. But I returned occasionally to pick off little bite-sized pieces to digest. Reading documentation on some specific aspect on the ESP32 at a time, usually in response to seeing someone’s project making cool use of that particular aspect. I wanted to see how it was done!

During this incremental learning, I picked up on the fact something is coordinating the works to keep all the plates up in the air. Eventually learning that the default ESP32 runtime environment includes a minimalist operating system for embedded hardware: FreeRTOS. Which was a world onto itself! There is a tutorial e-Book to help get people up to speed but again, it is a lot of information that I had to digest a little bit at a time. I’ll write more about FreeRTOS later.

And though I hadn’t reached the point of writing my own ESP32 code, I did start getting a bit of hands-on experience working with an ESP32 developer board. Which was more full featured than the minimalist mesh networking Supercon hack that was my first introduction to the hardware. Even though I was only running other people’s code (like Bart Dring’s ESP32 Grbl port) and not my own code, it was valuable familiarization of the ESP32 landscape.

All of these individual pieces built up a comfort level that was absent from my first time facing the avalanche of information available for ESP32 over two years ago. Now I can look at the page like ESP32.net and have a much better understanding why things are organized the way they were, and which pieces of information are relevant to others. This knowledge map is important as I do some basic due diligence to see if it’s feasible to build a micro Sawppy brain from an ESP32. Before I get any further on my little rovers, though, there’s a big event for a big rover.

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