Blynk/IoT Starter Set


#1

Hi all,

Any recommendations for boards/peripherals and where to get them for starting with Blynk and Iot? I’ve heard some horror stories and would like to make sure I’m getting the right stuff from the right place.

Thanks!


#2

Paging @bpamplin


#3

@gvasquez - Welcome to the world of those of us playing with IoT services. I have done a number of Blynk classes. There is not one on the calendar now but a link below to a recent class gives the description. The next one will be submitted for early January. Class notes are also linked below.

My level of research has been hobby level. If I were using this for business I would look much deeper. I use the Wemos/Lolin D1 Mini (ESP8266 based). They have performed well in ten classes with everyone running one and connecting through the DMS WiFi. They are available at Tanner Electronics.

I’m interested in the horror stories. Are they related to the Blynk service or user implementation and expectations. The forum has a number of reports of slow service and limited capabilities. The response is to download the free software and run it on your own server. That seems fair. There were a number of early complaints when only 80% of energy points were returned for deleted widgets. That limit has been removed.

I have no connection to Blynk, aside from having bought some energy points, and have not done comparison shopping. It serves my needs well.

I have three Arduino classes on the calendar next week. If you care to take a class or just drop in around 8:30 I’ll bring a Wemos and we can discuss this further.

https://calendar.dallasmakerspace.org/events/view/8282
http://pamplin.com/dms/class_blynk/


#4

Sparkfun typically has good tutorials + 20% on most everything through Cyber Monday

https://www.sparkfun.com/blynk


#5

The two US companies that I highly respect in the hobby electronics/microcontroller market are Sparkfun linked above and Adafruit. They both provide excellent products and beginner level documentation for their products.
https://www.adafruit.com/ 15% discount this weekend

The Blynk board in David’s link and the Wemos/Lolin D1 Mini that I use are both based on the ESP8266 microcontroller.


#6

I currently have a couple Blynk projects underway. I learned a lot using @bpamplin’s class materials, and I have broadened my understanding through internet searches and reading at their website, blynk.cc . I, too, use the Wemos/LOLIN D1 mini ESP8266 board.

There are some great example sketches at https://examples.blynk.cc/

Let me know if I can help in any way.


#7

I’ve got a couple of the nodeMCU version of the esp8266 that I’ve enjoyed playing with. I started with Blynk, but being broke/cheap I found the requirement of buying energy from them to be a problem. I ended up switching to MIT’s app inventor 2. I found it to be a fairly intuitive system. I somewhat reminded me of programming in visual BASIC, but with drag and drop code block puzzle pieces.


#8

I’m sort of resurrecting a slightly old thread for my question, if you don’t mind.

I have projects that involve local control and monitoring and systems for the home. I plan to monitor and adjust parameters remotely per phone. These are hobbyist level projects to learn what I can do and currently have no commercial future nor require exquisite level of security. I was about to put out more specs and ask for a suggestion as to a platform for development. But after a bit of searching, Arduino seems to offer a solution. In addition I’ve done a bit with Arduino although it’s been a while.

The novel part for me was going to be remote control, presumably WiFi to the cloud to cellular. I came across references to the ESP8266 board or shield for Arduino. Next I came across this rather decent video detailing the embodiment of “hello, world” for the Arudino mega 2560 + EXP8266 + Blynk on the cell phone.

One of the issues with this simple project was programming the proper firmware onto the EXP8266 and in addition, the acquisition of and programming required a bit of a search and minimal wiring and running a program through the Arduino to do the firmware upgrade.

The parts can be found as above on this thread or on Amazon fairly cheaply, with a few accessories for around $30. Meanwhile I came across this Arduino Uno WiFi - of which there are other manufacturers.

https://store.arduino.cc/usa/arduino-uno-wifi-rev2

I do like the extra capacity of the mega. Here is a frighteningly cheap ($10!) A-Mega2560 R3 with the ESP8266, which seems to be the same price as their Mega 2560 R3

Love those Chinese URLs!

So now I decide on the solution as per the video (2560 + ESP8266 + some other hardware for programming firmware) vs some version of Arduino with onboard 8266 (Uno vs mega). I do like the added SRAM and EEPROM of the mega, btw. Might be using that.

Ideas?

I’m just assuming the Blynk is ‘the’ solution to my project. Seems simple enough.

And I’ll throw out one question to show my ignorance. Does IOT refer specifically to a protocol of using a token (as per Blynk) that references your device for full duplex communication per internet? I’m presuming that both devices reference some server via this key and hooks everyone up in both directions. Is this a blynk server? Or is this a distributed and redundant system like DNS that is now a pervasive construct in the cloud?

Or do I have it all wrong?

Hey, thanks for reading and for your help!!

** Addendum - Well, I just read the link posted by @bpamplin. Ok! Next time I’ll be there.

And re. processors, as per your recommendation

The Wemos/Lilon D1 Mini is an exciting entry into the hobby Internet of Things market and contains a microcontroller compatible with the Arduino IDE. It is five times as fast as the Arduino Uno, one hundred times as much flash and includes WiFi. Attendees will each be using a parts kit with a Wemos, temperature sensor, servo, potentiometer, breadboard, LEDs and other components to begin to experiment in the fun world of Arduino-ish devices. All you need to bring is your smart phone or tablet and laptop.

I’ll checkout the Wemos product soon and go over your class pdf. But still wonder your opinion of the above options.

Wemos D1 mini is like a “little Arduino with wifi” for a great price. It’s based around the ESP8266 , has one analogue port and 11 digital ports. … You can use it with the Arduino IDE, micropython or NodeMCU. It runs from 5V or 3.3V. Logic levels are 3.3V for all ports.

I could use a bit more analog in but sounds really cool.

Cheers!

DJ


#9

My recommendation is to use whatever meet your own requirements. Everyone has different opinions, priorities and sills. Sometimes, depending on the day, I may have different opinions and priorities and skills myself. For example, I’ve created dozens of IOT devices, only three that I would consider “in production”, meaning my wife and kids have used them for a while with no issues, no crashes…they just work. One is a dremel modified Sonoff (ESP8266 based), one is a Wemos D1 mini with a custom base board (also ESP8266 based), and a Raspberry Pi Zero with a bunch of stuff attached. The first two can be programmed in C/C++ through the Arduino IDE. The last one is Linux with Python/Bash scripts. Can’t decide? Take one path and see how it goes. Not so well? Then move to another. Most are CHEAP! Probably can’t go terribly wrong with the wider Arduino-ish based boards. Probably lots of folks in that realm that can help at the makerspace.

IOT is a category, similar to the word “vehicles”. Very generic, non-descriptive, and way over-hyped, IMO. The protocols themselves don’t get much airtime. Lots of these so-called “cloud IOT platforms” use either websockets or MQTT (or both). For my purposes, I rolled my own service using Mosquitto (MQTT broker) with some NodeRed and JavaScript code. I didn’t like the delay I experienced using online services like Blynk or IFTTT. Total control, security, and privacy concerns sealed the deal for me, which is why I rolled my own IOT hub. But that’s just me. Again, do what you are comfortable with. Blynk or IFTTT are a good starting point, but feel free to move on to something else if you have good reason to.

Not to be cheesy, but enjoy the journey…don’t go into it thinking that this project is your one and only chance to make something cool. Cool will come. Or so I’ve been told. :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

I’ll be posting a few class soon. I always put Arduino in title even if it uses the Wemos. The hobby electronics market and documentation today is awesome.

WiFi and IoT are great for many applications but come with delays. I will be repeating a class on the NRF24L01 point to point transceivers. 2/$5 at Tanner.


#11

Thank you two for the replies. Look forward to a class at some point.

I agree!! Use what you can to get the MVP or hello world working. Then it can be honed or developed.

I love the “roll your own service” idea and would love to learn more but best not get ahead of myself.

:roll_eyes: Yep, seemed to me that IOT was a bit overused by those who probably had never thought about the nuts and bolts of the process. This would be a great discussion in your class - What protocols are common and when to use what re speed, security, outlay of hardware / firmware / software, dependence on someone else’s cloud (Blynk?), ease of use.

I can say I’ll prob use Blynk to get rollin’ and look forward to rampin’ it up!


#12

So this device is pretty much compatible out of the box? Seems there may be firmware issues (in need of reprogramming) with some of the 8266 modules.

Does the Wemos/Lilon D1 Mini need any updating out of the box in order to be functional with Blynk?

Darn, I like it - cheap and small. But I could use more analog inputs. Any idea how much EEPROM it has, if any?

Just discovered a work around for the limited analog inputs. A transducer I would like is humidity. And there are I2C and 1-wire protocol modules for this feature. Thus, I can put several sensors on a single bus. This would be a cleaner approach as well I’d say. And for temp, I’ve used the DS1820, 1-wire as well.


#13

Those probably come with Lua interpreter on them, or if Lua makes you cringe (like me), you can write your own firmware in the Arduino environment using C/C++. Either way, you’re going to have to program these things in either LUA or C to work with the sensors you mention. Is that something you’re comfortable with?