NodeMCU IoT Experimenter Prototype Board

Prototyping Platform for NodeMCU ESP8266 IoT Processors

NodeMCU ESP8266 IoT Experimenter Prototype Board

The NodeMCU IoT Experimenter is a versatile prototyping platform for use with a variety of the most popular NodeMCU modules including our NodeMCU carrier board. Great to use for IoT projects, advanced or straightforward interfacing and as a prototyping platform. The NodeMCU, with its versatility, including its ability to be programmed and used from the Arduino IDE, makes it along with this prototyping board the perfect experimenter’s solution.

The NodeMCU IoT Experimenter measures 5 5/16” x 4.5” (135mm x 115mm) with a solder mask on each side, plated holes along with a high-contrast silk-screen labeling component and prototyping positions.

Features of the board include a mounting socket area to accept either wide 1.1″ or narrow 0.9″ pitch NodeMCU modules. This includes the Amica NodeMCU carrier board (narrow pin spacing) to compatible variants such as the LoLin NodeMCU models. Power can be provided directly to your NodeMCU module through its built-in USB interface. Alternately, power can be supplied to the NodeMCU IoT Experimenter board which has provisions for a regulated power supply module.

The board offers over 1,000 plated-through holes on the prototype surface, mounting for eight status indicator LEDs along with dropping resistors and a power indicator LED. The prototyping area offers power busbars for the Ground (G), +3.3V (3V) power rail, and a third rail X. The third rail can be used for external voltages such as a 5V rail.

Interfacing to the NodeMCU is through a series of headers which extend each pin of the NodeMCU to rows of four headers. Each port is labeled to identify matching pins from the NodeMCU. The header area is located below the NodeMCU using standard 40-pin headers allowing for versatility in interfacing for sockets or header pins.

Options For Ordering the NodeMCU IoT Experimenter

Parts List and Placement Guide

NodeMCU IoT Experimenter Board

Component List

Processor:

[    ]  (1)  NodeMCU Processor – NodeMCU
               Supports 0.9” or 1.1” pitch NodeMCU

Semiconductors (LEDs and Regulator):

[    ]  (8)  Blue Indicator LED – LED1-LED8
[    ]  (1)  Blue Indicator LED – LED9
[    ]  (1)  Regulator Module (3.3V) – see details – VR1

Resistors (1/4 watt, 5% Carbon Film):

[    ]  (8)  Current limiting resistor – see note below – R1-R8
[    ]  (1)  75Ω (violet-green-black-gold) – R9

Sockets, Headers, and Connectors:

[    ]  (1)  2.1mm or 2.5mm Coaxial Jack PCB Mount – J1
[    ]  (1)  Rising Clamp Terminal Block (2 position) – J2
[    ]  (1)  3-pin Single Row Header & Shorting Block – J3
[    ]  (1)  40-pin Female Connector – I/O Connector
[    ]  (1)  Dual Row 40-pin Male Connector – I/O Connector

User Guide

We have a print version of the NodeMCU IoT Experimenter board available for download. It contains the necessary information and details needed to build your own board.

NodeMCU Processor Notes

NodeMCU IoT Experimenter with NodeMCU Carrier Board InstalledWhen installing the NodeMCU carrier module, leave a small gap of 1/16”-1/8” (2-3mm) between the bottom of the processor carrier and the NodeMCU IoT Experimenter. This ensures traces from the processor board do not short against traces on the mainboard.

Regulated Power Module

NodeMCU IoT Experimenter - Power Module Preperation
NodeMCU IoT Experimenter - 3.3V Power Module Installed

Located above the regulator module is a 3-way jumper at J3 and offers two positions, X or 3V. When jumpered across the Center Pin to 3V, the output from the regulator module will be provided to the NodeMCU and 3V rails on the board.

Alternately, if you install a different value of regulator (such as a 5V model), position the jumper across the Center Pin and X which will direct the current to the X rails on the board.

If using a higher value regulator than 3.3V (such as a 5V), the regulator on the NodeMCU can be used to power the NodeMCU. Enable the jumper to X position (which provides power to the X rails). Place a jumper from any X rail to Vin interface pad. Keep in mind; you will be limited to the current handling capabilities of the regulator on the NodeMCU.

Power J3 Jumper

The NodeMCU includes an onboard AMS1117 3.3V voltage regulator. This is sufficient to power the module, but when interfacing to external circuits, it may not be adequate.

The NodeMCU IoT Experimenter features the capabilities of adding a more efficient and powerful regulator. We have chosen a cost-efficient module to go on the board at VR1 which can supply up to 3A at 3.3V.

It is advisable to solder the eight header pins on the NodeMCU IoT Experimenter.

Afterward, install a 3.3V power module onto the pins and solder into position. Ensure you match the input and output terminals to those on the board (the Input to the module should be closest to the power jacks at J1 and J2).

Power Input Jacks

NodeMCU IoT Experimenter Power Jack and Rising Clamp Power InputWhen using the optional regulated power module VR1, the board can have power applied to J1, which can be a 2.1mm or 2.5mm power jack. Connection J2 optionally accept wires directly into the board or through a Rising Clamp Terminal Block (2-pin).

Prototype Area

NodeMCU IoT Experimenter - Prototype Area Header Pins, Socket and Solder Points

The prototype area on the board has over 1,000 plated 0.1” spaced holes. All processor pins extend to a set of four rows just below the NodeMCU and are labeled with their corresponding functions.

The top row will contain a single-row header socket which mates with Dupont style Male connectors. The next two rows are Male header pins which mate to Dupont style Female connectors. The last and bottom row is left empty to allow for solder connections for a more permanent solution.

LED Interface

NodeMCU IoT Experimenter - LED Installation Area

An area for eight LEDs and dropping resistors is included at the bottom of the board to aid in rapid prototyping.

Positions LED1 to LED8 offers mounts for eight LEDs along with dropping resistors (R1 to R8) for each LED. Connection to each LED is through the header block just above each LED, marked with a + and negative connections.

When controlling LEDs from the NodeMCU, remember the NodeMCU can source or sink 12mA per pin. Select from the chart the LED color and matching series resistor below to maintain a safe current below 12mA.

White, Blue or Green LED: 75 W 1/4 watt resistor
Red, Yellow or Orange LED: 180 W 1/4 watt resistor

Identify LED Pins Positive and Negative (Anode or Cathode)

Red LED Pictorial Showing Anode and Cathode along with Schematic Symbol3mm, 5mm, 8mm, and 10mm LEDs all have similar requirements. Each LED has an Anode (+) and a Cathode (-) to which power is applied. The original design of LEDs featured a casing with a flat edge on one side which used to indicate the Cathode.

Over time, some manufacturers have deviated from this standard, resulting in some LEDs having the Cathode on the flat side, while others this would represent the Anode.

One standard which appears at being maintained across manufactures is that of the two leads on the LEDs, one connection lead is longer than the other. The longer lead is used to signify the Anode (+), while the shorter lead is the Cathode (-).

LEDs are current sensitive, and the current through them must not exceed their specified maximums. Maintaining the current is typically accomplished with a Series Dropping Resistor. The value of the resistor is calculated based on the LEDs Forward Voltage, Supply Voltage, and the current and varies from LED to LED. To aid in calculating the optimal Series Dropping Resistor, we have developed an Online Calculator to assist in determining the proper value.

NodeMCU Compatibility with Arduino IDE

Setup and Configure Arduino IDE for the NodeMCU ESP8266

NodeMCU - Arudino Open-Source CommunityThe NodeMCU offers a variety of development environments, including compatibility with the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment). The NodeMCU/ESP8266 community took the IDE selection a step further by creating an Arduino add-on. If you’re just getting started programming the ESP8266 or even an established developer, this is the highly recommended environment. Visit our dedicated page on setting up and configuring the Arduio IDE for a NodeMCU ESP8266.