I am in the process of creating a simple and cheap Wi-Fi PCB design that can send and receive messages to an app (through a cloud of course). I intend to attach this PCB to a fish tank temperature gauge and a fish tank heating tube.

Basically here are the only forms of communication between the PCB and my app:

  1. Send temperature readings when requested by app user

  2. Receives requests to change temperature high or lower

  3. Turn heating device on/off

  4. I need to configure the PCB so that it can communicate with a cloud service (installing SDKs, frameworks, and program logic to handle sending/received messages through cloud)

What components do I need in my PCB that allows me to achieve these tasks? And what is the bare minimum flash and processing that can handle those tasks, or do I not even need processor chip or flash memory? I'm a beginner with PCBs.

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    Welcome to the site. Have any parts of your architecture been defined already? Or is it just thing, cloud and app and everything more detailed is still up in the air? – Helmar Feb 8 '17 at 17:43
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    What are the models of the two peripherals you intent to connect? – Helmar Feb 8 '17 at 17:45
  • Well, I'm not asking for anything TOO specific. The gauge and heating tube can just as well be anything else (fish feeder, lights etc). The prevailing point is that they have simple forms of communication to the PCB (i.e. "give me a value" or yes/no). I'm just so new to PCB's that I'm wondering what basic components of a PCB that I need that allows me to achieve simple use of the 4 things I listed. Broader answers are just as appreciated. – BossGiveMeArrays Feb 8 '17 at 19:52

You do not want a WiFi antenna on your PCB. If you take this approach, you will need to do some RF layout and submit for type-approval/FCC testing. The beat approach to this sort of problem is to use a WiFi module. Here is a page discussing the esp8266 and RTL8710 modules to give you an idea of what is out there.

These modules are (probably) designed so you can use them without having to repeat any regulatory testing. The on-board MCU has a small amount of excess processing power (above what is required to manage the wireless communication) and you can use this to interface to your sensors.

If your sensor is analogue, you will need some sort of ADC. Otherwise, find a sensor with an SPI (or similar) digital interface. Your PCB will need to handle connector issues, power supply, indicators and display, that sort of thing.

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  • Ah ok, The potential sensor communication incompatibilities will not be a problem. Do you think a module with the specifications of the RTL8710 that you linked is enough to handle the simple tasks that I outlined (numbers 1 - 4)? Again, sorry PCB hardware is not my forte. – BossGiveMeArrays Feb 8 '17 at 19:22
  • You need to understand what (4) means. This is not a PCB problem, it is a software problem. The linked device is capable of doing the type of task you descrive for sure. There are development boards for this type of device, which allow some prototyping without making a board. – Sean Houlihane Feb 8 '17 at 19:43

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