Recently I’ve had a lot of hands-on time with the ESP8266, a small chip made by the Chinese manufacturer Yue Xin. This little chip has got the internet buzzing with excitement as its potential is very big. So what is it? In short it’s a WiFi chip, it offers wireless connectivity and has been used as a Serial to WiFi bridge. However, there is als a very capable microprocessor on the chip that allows custom firmware to be run. This in effect removes the need for any other microprocessor (such as the Arduino a lot of folks use).
In order to get your own firmware build on it a toolchain has to be build. I’ve followed the guides describing how to completely do it yourself, however this GitHub by Paul Sokolovsky makes it much easier. Within some minutes you can have a toolchain set-up and ready to compile your own code.
This is where the fun begins! There are many examples on the internet of possible uses and custom firmwares, for example the well known NodeMCU which offers a LUA interpreter on this little device or the MQTT firmware by Minh Tuan. An entertaining blog about progress with the ESP8266 can be found on the site of Pete Scargill.
For one of my own projects I have the MQTT firmware modified into something that will do deepsleep & measure things. This involves a hardware mod on the ESP-01 unit I’m currently using (overview of modules). The evaluation board allows an easy way of flashing firmware into it, although the documentation is scarcely found and in Chinese.
Hope to post some updates on my progress, but in case you don’t have some of these boards at home yet be sure to get them and get in on the whole Internet of Things thing!