A SparkFun Feather Board?

Alasdair Allan
3 min readMar 8, 2019

There is now little question that the Raspberry Pi has become the de facto standard form factor in the single board computer market. However in the micro-controller market things are a little bit more complicated.

With Arduino in the process of abandoning their “classic” form factor that has for some years now been the standard, in favour of something more modern, the community seems instead to be adopting Adafruit’s Feather as the next standard.

Nothing suggests that more than the arrival of a SparkFun Feather board.

The SparkFun Thing Plus. (📷: SparkFun)

The board is built around the Espressif ESP32-WROOM-32D module, which uses the ESP32-D0WDQ6 variant of the popular chip, and is of course, pin compatible with the Adafruit Feather standard.

“The ESP32 Thing plus integrates a rich set of peripherals, ranging from capacitive touch sensors, Hall sensors, SD card interface, Ethernet, high-speed SPI, UART, I2S and I2C. Thanks to the onboard ESP32 WROOM module, the SparkFun Thing Plus features 16MB of flash memory, 520kB of internal SRAM, an integrated 802.11 BGN WiFi transceiver and dual-mode Bluetooth capabilities. It also has a Qwiic connector, and a JST connector to plug in a LiPo battery.”

The SparkFun Thing Plus pin out diagram. (📷: SparkFun)

We’ve already seen a crossing of the streams between Adafruit and SparkFun with the addition of CircuitPython support to the SparkFun Pro nRF52840 Mini board at the tail end of last year. However to see SparkFun carefully dip their toes into the water with both CircuitPython, and now the Feather form factor, over the course of just a few months is rather intriguing.

But spanning both the traditional Arduino community, and the new ‘third’ community that has grown up around the Espressif chips, the Feather form factor is bringing multiple chipsets under a single roof.

Announcing the SparkFun ESP32 Thing Plus. (📹: SparkFun)

We’re now experiencing both a collapse not just in the number of board form factors, but also what feels like a sea-change in the languages and methodology to program the boards we’re using to program those boards. While the Thing Plus is supported in the Arduino development environment, because it’s built around an ESP32, you’re not locked into that environment. Instead, you should be able to make use any of the other languages—like Python—with support for the ESP32.

The SparkFun Thing Plus is now available, and costs $24.95. Full instructions on getting started with the board are available in the hookup guide.