ESP WiFi Board Experiments

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of some ESP32 board tutorials over at MsRaynsford.co.uk.1 You know it’s a fast moving area when a post that’s less than a month old already has a dead link.  :)  Rather than re-creating all the tutorials that are already out there, I’m going to just jot down my notes and links as a short of “quick start guide to quick start guides.”

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  1. ESP Boards
    1. There’s several different “flavors” of ESP WiFi tech, however it seems as if they all break down into one of three different categories.
      1. Bare ESP WiFi module.  These require a bit of effort to make work since the bare module requires the pins to be broken out to be made useful.
      2. ESP WiFi breakout boards.  This type of board, which has 8 pins broken out, requires a programmer.  Since these 8 pins are arranged in a 2×4 pattern, they can’t be used directly in a breadboard.
      3. ESP WiFi development boards.  These board seem to have lots of pins broken out and typically a USB connector.  Since these boards have more features (voltage regulators, compatibility with other boards’ form factors, USB communication built-in), they’re going to be more expensive.  There’s the Adafruit Huzzah, the Sparkfun ESP Thing, and then something called the ESP Wemos D1.
    2. There are several different ESP modules and boards which have varying amounts of space from 512kb to 4MB and varying amounts of pins from 2 to 24 pins.  These modules all tend to have different names (ESP-01, ESP-07, etc, etc) but are all known as ESP8266.
    3. The ESP modules require 3.3v, so a 5.0v USB or other source will fry them.  Plan accordingly.  Some development boards have voltage regulators on them to adjust the power going to the module.
  2. Correct Board Manager URL for ESP boards
  3. An overwhelming amount of information for ESP boards
  4. Ordering Boards
    1. I’m ordering several boards off of Aliexpress.  I’m getting a few Wemos D1 boards, since they’ll be easy to prototype with2 , and a few ESP-01 breakout boards and a single programmer to toss into a project.  Then again, at <$3 a piece for the Wemos boards and <$2 a piece for the ESP breakouts, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to stretch to put the ESP-01’s into a project.  My thinking is that most any project I build will only use a pin or two and not be too terribly complicated anyhow, so that once it’s been prototyped I can just burn it into the ESP-01’s and permanently install it into a project.
    2. I’m not exactly sure which what WiFi enabled things I’d like to build yet. 3  Here are some ideas:
      1. A pair of tap lights that are connected over the internet.  I’d tap one before I left work, it would flash a color to let me know it sent a message, and the other one at home would light up to let my fam know I was on the way.  I guess it’s similar in theory to this.
      2. A button to call an Uber or Lyft.
      3. A button that will email or call my cell in 2-5 minutes from the time I press the button.  Useful when I know someone who stepped into my office isn’t good at taking a hint.  Or when I need to get off a conference call.
      4. A button that can be used to log simple events.  Might be useful at work in a variety of ways.
      5. A button that will automatically start a print job on my WiFi enabled 3D printer.

  1. Another tutorial here and here []
  2. Solder in headers, connect via USB, drop in breadboard, prototype away []
  3. Sometimes I will buy a few parts I know will be useful, spend some time tinkering with them, and then later build something when inspiration strikes. []