This is a quick getting started guide for the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM board. This board features an OV2640 camera, several GPIOs to connect peripherals, and a built-in programmer with a USB connector, which makes it easy to upload code to the board. We’ll take a quick look at the board and show you some examples of how to program it using the Arduino core for the ESP32.
For detailed overview of the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM features, check this post: Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM Board: Overview and Pinout
Where to Buy?
You can go to the following link to check the camera in different stores:
Introducing the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM Board
The Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM board is an ESP32 development board with the ESP32-Wrover-E chip (with 4 MB PSRAM) and an OV2640 camera.
It has a USB-to-UART converter so it’s straightforward to upload code to the board. You just need to
connect a USB cable to the board and connect it to your computer to upload code or apply power. There’s no need for extra circuitry or an FTDI programmer (contrary to the ESP32-CAM AI-Thinker board).
It comes with several exposed GPIOs if you want to connect other peripherals like sensors and outputs (many more GPIOs than the ESP32-CAM AI-Thinker). Additionally, if you’re not using the camera, you can use it as a regular ESP32 with a wide number of available GPIOs. The GPIOs with a slash above the numbers are the ones used by the camera.
There are RESET and BOOT buttons, which makes it easy to reset the board or put it in flashing mode if needed.
There are four onboard LEDs:
- ON: when lit, it means the board is being powered on.
- RX/TX: will blink when you’re using serial communication.
- IO2: it’s a built-in LED connected to GPIO 2—useful for debugging purposes.
This board is very practical, the only downside is that it doesn’t come with a microSD card slot. However, it comes with available GPIOs that you can use to connect an external microSD card module if needed.
Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM Board Features
Here’s a summary of the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM board features:
- ESP32-Wrover-E Chip with 4MB PSRAM
- Built-in USB-to-UART (CH340C drivers) — no need for an FTDI programmer
- Camera OV2640 2 Megapixel
- BOOT and RST buttons
- LED indicators (RX/TX ON/OFF, and built-in LED (GPIO2))
- Onboard antenna
Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM Board Pinout
The following diagram shows the pinout for the ESP32-Wrover CAM board. You can click on the image to see it in full-size.
There are labels indicating the features of each pin. You can clearly see which pins are being used by the camera, the power pins, PWM pins, ADC pins, etc.
Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM Board – Camera Pin Definition
Here’s a table with the connections between the ESP32 and the camera:
Note that when you’re using the camera, you can’t connect peripherals to the GPIOs used by the camera. Otherwise, the camera won’t work properly. When you’re not using the camera, you can use this ESP32 board as a “regular” ESP32 and you can use the camera pins for other purposes.
The pin definition for the ESP32-Wrover CAM board (Freenove brand) in your Arduino sketches should be as follows (in some of the Arduino examples, this pin definition is under the CAMERA_MODEL_WROVER_KIT definition).
#define PWDN_GPIO_NUM -1 #define RESET_GPIO_NUM -1 #define XCLK_GPIO_NUM 21 #define SIOD_GPIO_NUM 26 #define SIOC_GPIO_NUM 27 #define Y9_GPIO_NUM 35 #define Y8_GPIO_NUM 34 #define Y7_GPIO_NUM 39 #define Y6_GPIO_NUM 36 #define Y5_GPIO_NUM 19 #define Y4_GPIO_NUM 18 #define Y3_GPIO_NUM 5 #define Y2_GPIO_NUM 4 #define VSYNC_GPIO_NUM 25 #define HREF_GPIO_NUM 23 #define PCLK_GPIO_NUM 22
Because this board uses the same camera used in the ESP32-CAM board, the examples for the ESP32-CAM (that don’t use microSD card) should also work with the Freenove ESP32 Camera board by changing the pin definition. The examples that use a microSD card, should also be compatible if using an external microSD card module and adjusting the pin definition on the code.
Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM vs ESP32-CAM Ai-Thinker
Which one is better? The ESP32-CAM AI-Thinker of the Freenove ESP32-Wrover Cam? It will depend on your project requirements, let’s compare those boards.
Both the ESP32-CAM Ai-Thinker and the Freenove ESP32 Camera come with an ESP32 chip. The AI-Thinker boards usually come with the ESP32-S chip, and the Freenove brand comes with the ESP32-Wrover-E. Both chips are similar in terms of performance.
They both have the same camera model, an OV2640 camera. This means that most projects for the ESP32 Ai-Thinker will also work with the Freenove board and vice-versa by just changing the pin assignment in the code.
The ESP32-CAM Ai-Thinker comes with a built-in microSD card slot, while the Freenove doesn’t. The Freenove comes with more accessible GPIOs than the Ai-Thinker, including GPIOs being used by the camera. This means that when you’re not using the camera, you have more GPIOs to use, almost as in a regular ESP32 board. If you intend to use a microSD card in your projects, maybe the ESP32-CAM is a better idea. However, you can easily connect a microSD card module to the Freenove because it comes with several available GPIOs.
The Freenove comes with BOOT, and RESET buttons, while most ESP32-CAM Ai-Thinker boards only come with RESET button.
The Freenove comes with built-in indicator LEDs, and the Ai-Tinker doesn’t. This makes me think that the ESP32-CAM Ai-Thinker is better in terms of power consumption, even though I haven’t tested it.
The Freenove comes with a built-in USB to TTL converter, which means you can easily upload code to the board and provide power through the USB socket. The AI-Thinker board doesn’t come with this feature, which is a big drawback when you’re experimenting with code and debugging—uploading code can become a tedious task.
The Freenove comes with an onboard antenna, while the Ai-Tinker is available with an onboard antenna and with the possibility to connect an external antenna to increase the wi-fi range.
For a better comparison between the ESP32-CAM AI-Thinker and the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM, check the table below.
|Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM||ESP32-CAM AI-Thinker|
|Antenna||Onboard||Onboard and external|
|Where to buy?||Check best price||Check best price|
Programming the ESP32-Wrover CAM board with Arduino IDE
In this getting started guide, we’ll show you a quick example to demonstrate how to program your board using Arduino IDE. Before proceeding, you must have Arduino IDE installed on your computer, as well as the ESP32 add-on for the Arduino IDE.
We recommend following the next tutorial to install the Arduino IDE and add support for the ESP32 boards if you haven’t already:
Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM Video Streaming Web Server Example
In this section, we’ll upload an example that creates a video streaming web server that you can access on your local network.
In the Arduino IDE, go to Tools > Board > ESP32 Arduino, and then select ESP32 Wrover Module.
Go to File > Examples > ESP32 > Camera and open the CameraWebServer example.
Make sure you select the right board on the code (remove the // on the CAMERA_MODEL_WROVER_KIT and make sure all the other board selections have //), as shown below:
// =================== // Select camera model // =================== #define CAMERA_MODEL_WROVER_KIT // Has PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_ESP_EYE // Has PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_ESP32S3_EYE // Has PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_M5STACK_PSRAM // Has PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_M5STACK_V2_PSRAM // M5Camera version B Has PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_M5STACK_WIDE // Has PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_M5STACK_ESP32CAM // No PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_M5STACK_UNITCAM // No PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_AI_THINKER // Has PSRAM //#define CAMERA_MODEL_TTGO_T_JOURNAL // No PSRAM // ** Espressif Internal Boards ** //#define CAMERA_MODEL_ESP32_CAM_BOARD //#define CAMERA_MODEL_ESP32S2_CAM_BOARD //#define CAMERA_MODEL_ESP32S3_CAM_LCD
Then, scroll down the code a bit and insert your network credentials on the ssid and password variables so that the board can connect to your network.
const char* ssid = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_SSID"; const char* password = "REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_PASSWORD";
After selecting the right board and inserting your network credentials, you can upload the code to the board.
Upload Code to the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM Board
Uploading code to the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM is straightforward, there’s no need for extra circuitry or an FTDI programmer. You just need to connect a USB cable (with data wires—USB cables that are charge-only won’t work to upload code) to the board USB connector and connect it to your computer.
Then, in the Arduino IDE, go to Tools > Port and select the COM port it is connected to.
Don’t see the COM port, or it is greyed out? It means you might not have the required drivers installed. This specific board uses the CH340 drivers. So, do a quick search to install those drivers on your operating system. After installing the drivers, try to upload the code again.
Then, you need to select a board model in the Tools menu.
Select the following settings:
- Board: ESP32 Wrover Module
- Partition Scheme: Huge APP (3MB No OTA) (or different, depending on your project requirements).
Finally, you just need to click the upload button.
After a few seconds, the code should be successfully uploaded to the board.
After uploading the code, open the Arduino IDE Serial Monitor at a baud rate of 115200.
Press the board RST button. The ESP32 IP address will be printed on the Serial Monitor.
Open a browser on your local network, and type the ESP32 IP address. In my case:
You should get access to a page where you can start video streaming and get pictures from the camera.
Press the Start Streaming button to start video streaming or the Get Still button to take photos.
There are also several menus that you can play with to adjust the camera settings.
For higher resolutions, the picture is pretty good. However, video streaming in higher resolutions with this board is a bit slow if you’re not right next to the router.
Currently, this example doesn’t have face recognition enabled for this board, but face detection works for CIF or lower resolutions.
This tutorial was a quick introduction to the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM board. Depending on your project requirements, this can be a good alternative to the most popular ESP32-CAM AI-Thinker.
We have other projects that you can try with the Freenove ESP32-Wrover CAM board. The following tutorials are compatible, just make sure you adjust the pin assignment in the code:
- ESP32-CAM Remote Controlled Car Robot Web Server
- ESP32-CAM Save Picture in Firebase Storage
- ESP32-CAM Pan and Tilt Video Streaming Web Server (2 Axis)
- Telegram: ESP32-CAM Take and Send Photo (Arduino IDE)
- ESP32-CAM: Take and Send Photos via Email using an SMTP Server
If you want to learn more about the ESP32-CAM, check out our resources:
We hope you found this tutorial useful.
Thanks for reading.