In recent months a quiet buzz has been building among the Internet of Things maker and developer communities, and the word on everybody’s fingertips is: ESP8266.
OK, that’s not exactly a word. It’s the designation of a range of tiny new, low-cost Wifi microcontrollers based on an ESP8266 SoC with an integrated TCP/IP stack and Xtensa processor. Designed by Shanghai-based Espressif Systems, the ESP8266 is available in a number of compact modules from various manufacturers — often for as little as $2.50 a pop if you buy in 100 bulk orders.
Though it was originally created as an adaptor to convert the one-bit-at-a-time serial communication used by most wired computer systems into free-flowing Wi-Fi radio signals, and despite the original documentation being almost entirely in Chinese, hardware enthusiasts around the world quickly realized that the ESP8266 wasn’t limited to that niche use. An english-language community has sprung up around esp8266.com, with forums and a wiki for users to share knowledge and ideas as they’ve experimented with getting various programming languages and development tools up and running.
The most recent success, and possibly the one that will turn the ESP8266 from an indie phenom into a pop diva of the IoT, was the release this past weekend of a port of the Arduino Integrated Development Environment. Arduino already has a huge community of developers who know how to write code for it, so being able to natively program the ESP8266 through a familiar IDE — along with the incredibly low price point — makes it immediately accessible to a much wider audience.
As more and more people embrace the ESP8266 as a cheap, small and effective way to get low-impact devices connected to the Internet of Things, we’re sure to see the hardware also become more accessible. In fact, an ESP8266-based IoT prototyping kit, complete with add-on “shield” modules, is already in the works from Phasor.
Sample Specs for the ESP-01:
- SoC – Espressif Systems ESP8266 32-bit RISC processor with 802.11 b/g/n support(32-pin QFN package),
- Interfaces: SDIO 2.0, SPI, UART, I2S
- Wi-Fi – 802.112 b/g/n with WEP, TKIP, AES, and WAPI engines, Wi-Fi direct (P2P), and soft-AP
- Header – 8-pin header with GND, VCC (3.3V), Rx and RX, and 4 NC pins.
- Standby power consumption – < 1.0mW (DTIM3)
- Dimensions – 21 x 11 mm
- Weight – 3 grams
- Video: Overview video – GreatScott
- Installing and Building an Arduino Sketch for the $5 ESP8266 Microcontroller – Make (4/1/2015)
- Designing a Breadboard Adaptor for the $5 ESP8266 Microcontroller – Make (4/1/2015)
- Using the ESP8266 module – Instructables — Propellerpowered
- Getting Started with the ESP8266 ESP-12 – Instructables — ankitdaf
- Video: How To Add More GPIO Pins (MCP23008 Driver) – AllAboutEE
- ESP8266 weather display – Zeflo
- WiFi Thermostat with weekly scheduler – – Martin Harizanov
- WiFi finder – Stevica Kuharski
Where to buy:
Related: IoT Hardware