The first projects built with this module all used a microcontroller to control the ESP8266 as a Wi- Fi peripheral using an AT command set over a serial interface. While this was made to work, some of the projects suffered from stability problems as the ESP8266 firmware continued to
evolve. Lately, however, a group of enterprising individuals
have made the ESP8266 Arduino compatible. This is
important for numerous reasons:
1. It allows people familiar with the Arduino IDE
(Integrated Development Environment) to develop
software for the ESP8266 module.
2. It allows the software developed in the Arduino IDE
to be run directly on the 32-bit microcontroller on the
ESP8266 module, eliminating the need (in many cases) for
a separate microcontroller altogether.
3. It allows the use of numerous third-party Arduino
libraries, as long as they don't depend on direct access to
the underlying AVR hardware.
Arduino compatibility and the low cost of the
ESP8266 are major developments for the Internet of
Things (Io T) movement currently sweeping the tech world.
Using the ESP8266 allows for very small and inexpensive
products to be created that can be controlled and/or
Note if you plan on putting an ESP8266 module into a
commercial product, you will have to pass FCC
Meet the ESP8266
By Craig A. Lindley
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42 October 2015
A Tiny, Wi-Fi Enabled, Arduino Compatible Microcontroller
It is not very often that a new piece
of hardware comes along and
immediately captures the attention of
the entire maker community. The
Raspberry Pi and the $9 C.H.I.P. are a
couple of recent examples, but the
ESP8266 module from Expressif
Systems ( expressif.com) wins this
prize. This little board (see Photo 1)
is only about the size of a nickel, yet
contains a powerful 32-bit
microcontroller and a Wi-Fi interface,
and it can be purchased for around
$4 in single unit quantities.
Photo 1. The ESP8266 module (ESP-01) is about the
size of a nickel.