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SNAPZZ - Modular Microprocessor Platform

Modular MCU Platform with decomposed Sections in a M.2 (22/30mm) Formfactor

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While i love Breadboards and Devboards - sometimes they are just too flaky, too impractical to install in my semi-useful Projects. Always doing full custom boards is too much of a hassle. Sometimes its ok to fiddle on permanent USB on a Bradboard to test something, somtimes i need the MCU hooked to Solar and LIPO.
So i decoupled the MCU section (ESP32/Wifi/BT in that case) from the "mount". The "mount" can deliver Power or extend IO Pins and give further connectivity options.

For the adapter i choose the M.2(E Key)/NGFF Formfactor.
It really also makes the design of a new MCU board a breeze. I just did one for a smaller MCU within 2 hours.
The little module is using 22x30mm M.2 Format. The first "USB mount" is just 52x25, USB/TTL chip, PWR converter etc.
With the "ESPerimeter board" i built another "mount" pilot that adopts straight into a Breadboard.
You power it with USB, program ESP and tinker on the breadboard. SNAPZZ the

SNAPZZ Modular Microprocessor System

  • Shrink me more !!

    Thorsten Jaeger01/03/2021 at 11:46 0 comments

    Initially the SNAPZZ Modules are 22x30mm. By extending the Chip Family i can get rid of the Flash chip and get plenty more PCB space.

    This lead me to making a new size - 22x22mm. To stay compatible with the original base (mount) with 30mm lenghts i added a breakaway section. So it can be mounted in a 30mm length mount, but also in a 22mm lenghts one.

    This specific board is using Espressif ESP32-pico-v3-02 Chip. It contains both Flash (2M) and RAM (4M) in the Chip.
    Another name thing here is the -PRO Suffix. Essentially telling that it contains the EEPROM Chip (U2)

  • Auto-detect Host connectivity

    Thorsten Jaeger11/12/2020 at 21:49 0 comments

    Depending on the Modules it's desired to directly strap USB D+/D- to the Module (eg ATSAMD21 or ESP32-S2) or to strap USB to a USB/TTL Chip (eg CP2102N) and send RX/TX to the Module.

    Luckily i included a USB Mux chip on the Reference Base Board. The Module can tell the Mux (by pulling a pin high or low) to send Dp/Dn directly to the module or to the on-base USB/TTL Chip.

  • Adding a Quick-Lock/Release System to SNAPZZ

    Thorsten Jaeger11/11/2020 at 13:32 0 comments

    In addition to the "SNAPZZ magnetic" Experiment i am looking into mechanical Lock/Release Systems. I found this tiny nice one that i can use. For ver permanent Installations, a Solder-standoff and a screw is the better choice; For Experimenting, debugging, swapping a Quick-Release Model is better.

    The Module itself doesn't need a change, the Notch on Top can stay there and swapped into a Carrier board with a Screw. The Carrier Module (depending on the Quick Lock).

    Modules with a SNAPZZ...

  • SNAPZZ M.2 magnetic

    Thorsten Jaeger11/06/2020 at 16:55 0 comments

    Originally M.2 modules are screwed down (M2, M2.5) to a standoff soldered to the carrier PCB.

    To remove the Module you unscrew the little screw, module pops up and you remove it.

    For prototyping this sometimes is annoying so i was experimenting a bit with a magnetic lock. I use a small Neodym magnet and glued it to the carrier PCB. the other Magnet sits in the little recess in the module. Those magnets, yet very small (1.5mm high, 2mm diameter) are surprisingly strong once they make contact.

    Manufacturability is probably low, as they cannot be soldered. Neodym Magnets have a Curie Temp of ~80 degrees Celsius. Around and beyond this Temperature the Magnets looses it's magnetism permanently. 

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Thorsten Jaeger wrote 11/13/2020 at 08:28 point

Thanks for your comment. As an experiment i tried to handsolder (dragsolder) an M.2 connector; lots of Flux and and it works 100% well. But knowing newbies may struggle here. So i started last week to create a universal M.2 adapter PCB with castellated connects. I did some comparisons and found that exactly for this kind of users you need somewhat of a 2mm pitch to   make it really easy for hand soldering - which for 79 pins gives me a ~45x45mm PCB.  For my modules that's overkill as i dont use all pins, so there will be a "smaller version" as well plus the 1:1 model.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Thorsten von Eicken wrote 11/13/2020 at 05:35 point

This looks like an interesting idea! Never occurred to me to use M.2 connectors. They have lots of pins and are cheap, that's good. I use boring old 2.54mm castellated edge pins on my esp32 modules... Big issue I see is that the M.2 connectors have 0.5mm pitch pins. That's not for everyone to hand-solder, but it's not impossible by a long shot either. It does make it difficult to assemble a quick one-off motherboard, though, or to tap into an extra pin or two to add some extra functionality on an existing board... What led you to the M.2 connector?

  Are you sure? yes | no

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