Swiss made in China

While working on my flight monitor project, I came across the inspiring blog of Daniel Eichhorn from Switzerland (aka Squix). His PlaneSpotter puts my own tinkering in a very modest perspective. In order to support Daniel’s open source projects, I recently purchased hisĀ ESP8266 WiFi Color Display Kit.

The fairly priced kit arrived from China within 3 weeks, all items well packed in a solid plastic box. It combines two well-proven components: an esp8266-based Wemos D1 mini pro and a ili9341 driven 2.4″ TFT touch screen. They can be soldered onto the included PCB, or assembled as plug-in modules, thanks to several types of included header pins.

Unfortunately, my kit came with an early version of the PCB. It sacrifices stability for the sake of flatness and doesn’t break out the SD card reader pins (the instructions even suggests to remove the SD card holder). A newer version appears to be better designed, but I’m still not sure that it breaks out the SD pins.

So far, two projects in Daniel’s GitHub repository have been designed for this kit: PlaneSpotter Color and the popular Weather Station Color. During the first test runs, the display often remained white after power up, although the sketch was running fine according to the Serial output. Over time, failure rate gradually went up to 100%. At first I blamed the connection between PCB and display, but in the end it proved to be a combination of the display’s sensitivity to wiring and an increasingly faulty Wemos.

Meanwhile, I’ve replaced the Wemos, and now the set is very stable. It’s real fun writing graphical sketches for the ili9341 display, especially because Bodmer wrote an ultra-fast esp8266 library for it.