Those who have some experience with Do It Yourself (DIY) electronic projects, and are just starting to test the waters in the Internet of Things (IoT), the Blynk Board from SparkFun is an activity filled challenging exercise. Both experienced users as well as beginners will find this fun to set up and learn—the kit comes with more than ten projects.
Of course, you can make this board work without the IoT Starter Kit from SparkFun, but then you will have to buy the sensors and other components separately to complete the projects. The Blynk Board, based on the ESP8266, runs on a 32-bit L106, a RISC microprocessor core running at a speed of 80 MHz. It has 1 MiB flash built-in, and allows single-chip devices to connect with Wi-Fi, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n. The board has the TR switch integrated, LNA, balun, power amplifier, matching network WPA/WPA2 or WEP authentication, and can connect to open networks. Other features include 16 GPIO pins, I2C, SPI, I2S, UART with dedicated pins, and a UART (transmit-only) capable of being enabled from GPI02. The board also has a 10-bit successive approximation ADC.
Blynk Boards, based on the ESP8266, come preloaded with projects that are ideal for those just beginning on the Internet of Things and concepts of basic electronics. Arduino boards used it originally for implementing Wi-Fi enabled hardware projects; the ESP8266 has built-in Wi-Fi, making it a cheap, Arduino-compatible, and standalone development board. Many other kits use this board in different shapes and sizes, and you will find it in SparkFun ESP8266 Thing, Adafruit HUZZAH, and NodeMcu.
As the ESP8266 is useful as an open source hardware, it is a useful device for starting with the Internet of Things. It makes the Blynk Board an ideal platform for controlling single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi, and Arduino. Basically, the Blynk consists of three components—a Blynk app for smartphones, the Blynk library, and the Blynk server. The library is compatible with a large number of maker hardware.
While the Blynk library and Blynk server are open source, anyone can use the Blynk app on iOS and Android smartphones. With the Blynk app, you can build a graphical interface for any IoT project—simply drag and drop the widgets. Blynk offers several widgets such as LC display, buttons, and joystick, with which you can start hacking and you need only an IoT development board.
After collaborating with SparkFun, Blynk created the ESP8266 based SparkFun Blynk Board. They offer it fully programmed for more than ten Blynk projects. That makes the IoT Starter Kit from SparkFun with the Blynk Board such a fun project, offering a wonderful introduction to the Internet of Things technology and you do not have to learn any difficult programming.
For those who already have other ESP8266 development boards, simply reprogramming them with the firmware will turn them into DIY Blink Boards. With these, you can easily run boot camps or conduct workshops. Just adding the sensors and a few other components will help you complete the built-in projects, and these you can buy from SparkFun.