The ESP32 TTGO board using RIOT-OS

In the last few months, RIOT-OS operating system gained support for the ESP32 and ESP8266 based boards. RIOT-OS also supports several communication protocols, namely Lorawan through the usage of the Semtech implementation.

My post connecting the ESP32 TTGO board to TTN (The Things Network) describes (more or less) how to connect this board to the The Things Network using the Arduino and LMIC stack for the ESP32.

So why don’t give it a go with RIOT-OS?

Board definition:
RIOT-OS works with board definitions that describes several key features of the targeting board. In the case of the TTGO ESP32 Version 1 that I have several things needed to be changed from the base ESP32 board definitions that are available now on the RIOT-OS code base.

The most important issue was the clock speed definition for this ESP32 board, since it seems it uses a 26MHz clock instead of the standard(?) 40Mhz clock. Without the change for the clock speed all the serial output on the USB port was garbled and unreadable.

With the clock speed correctly set, important information regarding the pins for the I2C, SPI buses and the sx1276 chip needed to be defined. That was also correctly defined, and preliminary tests show that the Oled and sx1276 is detected using the Semtech Loramac stack.

I haven’t yet change the other pin definitions, so for the basic I2C, SPI, Button, and sx1276 are correctly defined.

The board definition can be found in my repository located at RIOT TTGO ESP32 repository under the directory boards.

To use this board definition, we just need to copy the board definition directory to the boards directory of the cloned RIOT-OS repository.

Testing:
For testing we can just compile the examples under the example directory for the RIOT TTGO ESP32 repository.

There are two examples: One for testing the OLED screen and other to test the sx1276 and the Semtech Loramac stack.
This last example is based on the provided RIOT-OS example for Lorawan, but I’ve added support for ABP and debug prints to see what is going on.
On the Make file, we should select the type of activation and fill out the required data from the TTN device console. All data just needs to be copied and pasted directly and it should work.

To build the examples I’m using Docker according to this instructions.

Additionally, for the ESP32 flashing to work, the ESP-IDF repository must be cloned and its location set for RIOT build by setting the ESP32_SDK_DIR variable.

Results:
The following things work fine:

– The serial console works fine.
– The blue led, on and off
– The button, detecting it release and pressed.

The OLED works fine through I2C, but the I2C speed must be set exactly as defined on the board definition, otherwise it won’t work. It took me several hours to debug this issue.

The sx1276 works, it is detected and the Semtech stack seems to be able to use it. Adding some debugging to Loramac stack shows that the DIO# interrupts are detected but there are issues. For example I have two boards and with the same code I have different behaviours which seems rather strange… I was able to send data to the TTN gateway, but when waiting for the Semtech stack it hangs waiting for a stack status message. The other board is always complaining regarding MAC timeout.

So, all in all, as a first experience with RIOT-OS on the TTGO board, excepting the Lorawan stack, everything seems to work as expected. Regarding the Lorawan stack, probably going to try the LMIC Arduino implementation to see if it is possible to port it to RIOT-OS.

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6 thoughts on “The ESP32 TTGO board using RIOT-OS

  1. Hi,

    I’m trying to upstream TTGO T-Beam support [1]. My PR is based on Heltec’s PR [2]. Its author hasn’t configured DIO1 and DIO2 because these pins don’t provide pulldowns. In the case of T-Beam one of the pins does provide a pulldown though LoRa should be working with DIO0 only. When I try the LoRaWAN example, my board resets after some seconds. Have to debug it.

    If you have any comments on my PR, it will be greatly appreciated. So far I could successfully test LED, button, and GPS UART.

    [1] https://github.com/RIOT-OS/RIOT/pull/11418
    [2] https://github.com/RIOT-OS/RIOT/pull/11265

    1. Are you using the RIOT Lorawan example?
      Normally if it reboots, either the program blocked or there is some other fault. The reboot messages should report the cause. You need to set the baud rate to 77880 to see what is going on.

      1. Yes. Doens’t look something that is related to the board definition. Something is blocking the internal functions of the ESP and hence it reboots.

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