The 2024 Editorial
First of all, a Happy New Year 2024 to you, dear readers, from my Nextion colleagues in Shenzhen/China, in Canada, and from myself in France!
Before I start to draw the roadmap for 2024, the fifth year of the Nextion Sunday Blog, let us first have a look back on what has already been achieved:
When I started writing the Nextion Sunday Blog in early 2020, my intention was to transmit in-depth insight to show that our little Nextion HMI screens are ways more powerful that one would expect at a first glance. It was and it is still important for me to not to give simple solutions which people would copy and paste without understanding what happens inside, but to give you the tools and the knowledge at hands, accompanied by working demo code as a proof of concept as the bricks with which you build performant applications.
Sometimes, an article series is interrupted because there are more actual topics like new Nextion Editor releases, new Nextion Hardware, or the different Nextion Sales. I think that it is important to keep my readers informed about everything new.
Showing that many things can be done by a Nextion HMI alone without attaching an external MCU was always a priority. Long term readers remember for sure how thanks to fixed point arithmetic, we let our Nextions calculate square roots and trigonometric functions with more that enough precision to draw amazing Lissajous patterns and Spirograph like stuff in multiple colors and extremely short time – much more impressive than the integrated waveform component.
Another highlight was for sure to show how even a simple small and relatively cheap Nextion HMI can be transformed into a full-fledged MIDI controller, together with the Nextion MIDI I/O Interface (designed by yours truly and produced by ITEAD). The latter, although designed with Nextion HMI in mind, has in the meantime found its place in many other projects, to let an Arduino Mega or a Teensy 4.1 make music.
When it comes to using the Nextion HMI together with an external MCU, it’s always important to make a clear design choice: Who is in control? The Nextion HMI or the Arduino/STM32/Teensy/Pic/ESP32? To allow you to make informed decisions, I wrote several articles about details and specifics of serial communication. Most times for me, the Nextion is the master and the external MCU is the slave because I do not want to see the powerful Nextion HMI used just as a simple display. Several articles cover Nextion HMI using a ESP32 to build up a Wifi connection and, in the most prominent example, even to the eWeLink network to control devices over the SONOFF ZigBee bridge.
Actually, our ongoing task is the Nextion Mega I/O project. When we’ll come to its end, a simple Discovery Series Nextion HMI as a master will be able to control up to 8 Arduino MEGA slaves, which makes a total of 96 PWM channels, 128 ADC channels, and 256 GPIO pins. You will probably not need as much, but you’ll have everything at hands to adapt this for your individual configuration and needs. For this, we even developed a much more compact, quick and efficient custom protocol which only needs to transmit 2 bytes to request data and only 3 bytes for the response containing the full channel address and data. In some way, this is even more compact and robust than the MIDI 1.0 protocol. Stay tuned!
Over the years, the MCU and development boards market has changed. 8bit systems like the Arduino UNO have lost some of their previous importacet since much more powerful 32bit systems often based on Atmel SAMD, STM32, or ESP32 processors have become widely available, and are supported in either the Arduino IDE, in Eclipse, or VSCode/PlatformIO. That means most probably that the aforementioned Mega IO project (which can naturally be run on other MCUs with some adaptations) will be the last one using an Atmel 8bit system. I decided this time for it just because the 2560 has a huge number of I/O pins.
I’m planning to do much more wireless+Nextion stuff in the near future. After I got the Nextion + ESP32 + ZigBee Bridge thing finally running, I became really motivated to look still more into this. Why shouldn’t we use that experience to do still more interfacing between Nextion and smart home devices. And since I never give up on my electronic music ambitions, it might well be that later this year, we combine a Nextion HMI with a ESP32C3 to make a Bluetooth MIDI controller.
What I’d like to do, but that depends from you, dear readers, is to show more of your projects. I know that many of you are tinkering for example camping car and swimming pool control applications, HAM radio equipment, and CAN bus coupled car optimisation devices around your Nextions. Share them with the community if you are proud of your project. Contact me via email (see below) if you have something just to show without giving away your production secrets or even something to share with the community! I’ll have a talk with the marketing department in Shenzhen to see if I can’t get some incentives for you.
That was it for today, many words and no code for once but I hope you’ll do as me and look motivated into a bright Nextion future!
Thank you for reading and happy Nextioning!
Questions, comments, critics, suggestions? Just send me an email to thierry (at) itead (dot) cc! 🙂
And, by the way, if you like what I write, and you are about to order Nextion stuff with Itead, please use my referral link! To you, it won’t make a change for your order. But it will pay me the one or the other beer or coffee. And that will motivate me to write still more interesting blogs 😉