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Project: ESP8266
Featured: No
State Completed
Members Prodigity, Da Syntax, xopr
GitHub No GitHub project defined. Add your project here.
Description Playing around with cheap wifi modules

programming the ESP8266

hardware: using an FTDI cable

NOTE: some people state that you can connect GPIO0 to DTR and REST to RTS, but the current settings in Arduino don't support this properly (might be a configuration thing) This would enable automatic program mode for the ESP

Make sure your FTDI cable can do 3.3V!

  • connect CH_PD and VCC to 3.3V (use an external power supply as most FTDI cables are not capable of supplying the required amouunt of current
  • connect GPIO0 (program) via a momentary switch to GND
  • connect REST (reset), if available via a momentary switch to GND (or do a power cycle if you want to start the bootloader mode
  • and GPIO15 (if available) via a 10k resistor all to GND
  • press both reset (or cut power) and program
  • release reset (or restore power)
  • release program
  • upload using your favorite software method
  • Computer1up found that the CH340 Serial to USB modules should work. CH340 modules on Aliexpess We should have some of these modules in the hACKspace, in the corner where the ESP8266 modules are found.
  • Xopr originally thought that these don't supply enough power to program an ESP-12S (or E?), but computer1up has successfully programmed one of these ESP's using the CH340.
  • Also, computer1up has only had luck with programming his ESP-12S when the RESET pin is connected while programming, instead of disconnecting it after boot.

software: using Arduino 1.6.4

Taken from

  • Install Arduino 1.6.4 from the Arduino website.
  • Start Arduino and open Perferences window.
  • Enter into Additional Board Manager URLs field. You can add multiple URLs, separating them with commas.
  • Open Boards Manager from Tools > Board menu and install ESP8266 platform (and don't forget to select your ESP8266 board from Tools > Board menu after installation).
  • For the ESP^2, the device name (under Linux) is /dev/ttyACM3
  • Change the programmer from AVRISP mkII to ArduinoISP
  • poweroff ESP (either unplug the USB or pull the device from the socket
  • set the switch to prog
  • poweron the ESP
  • You can now upload your sketch

NOTE: currently, programming the ESP-12E will result in corrupted firmware with all kinds of strange behaviour. This is caused by the esptool that comes with the Arduino ESP8266 package. (See this comment on april 28)

There are two ways to circumvent this:

  1. Manual upload: In Arduino, click file, preferences and check verbose [ ]upload
    • upload without putting the ESP in bootloader mode so you don't waste any (corrupt) write cycles
    • note the location of the .bin file and use the esptool method
  2. add a better working in Arduino (which is what xopr did) by changing some files within the ESP8266 package
    • download and put it in ~/.arduino15/packages/esp8266/hardware/esp8266/1.6.<BUILD_NUMBER>/tools/
    • edit ~/.arduino15/packages/esp8266/hardware/esp8266/1.6.<BUILD_NUMBER>/boards.txt and after
    • add (python)
    • edit ~/.arduino15/packages/esp8266/hardware/esp8266/1.6.<BUILD_NUMBER>/platform.txt and at the bottom, add
    tools.esptoolpy.upload.pattern="{cmd}" "{path}/" --baud {upload.speed} --port "{serial.port}" write_flash 0x00000 "{build.path}/{build.project_name}"
    • Now, in Arduino, you have an extra menu option under 'Tools', 'Upload using', 'Serial (python)'

software: using Arduino IDE 1.8.2

  • Install the Arduino IDE from the Arduino website. Note: there's also a web editor, but this HAS NOT been tested if it works with the ESP boards yet.
  • Enter into Additional Board Manager URLs field. You can add multiple URLs, separating them with commas.
  • Open Boards Manager from Tools > Board menu and install ESP8266 platform (and don't forget to select your ESP8266 board from Tools > Board menu after installation).
  • Select your ESP8266 board from the board selector. The default settings are usually fine.
  • Note that this method is not tested with the ESP^2. This did work with an Arduino UNO R3 with its ATMega-chip removed and with the CH340 modules.
  • It seems that the strange behaviour of the esptool in the previous version of Arduino (or the board libraries) has been fixed.

software: using to upload binaries

  • Make sure you have a binary (for example, download NodeMCU here or do a search for "site: nodemcu firmware"
  • Download (and make sure you have python on your system
  • Upload using something that says:
    • Linux
      sudo ./ --port /dev/ttyUSB0 write_flash 0x00000 ../nodemcu_float_0.9.6-dev_20150704.bin
    • Windows --port COM1 write_flash 0x00000 C:\example\nodemcu_float_0.9.6-dev_20150704.bin
    • Mac
      GOOD LUCK, edit me if you succeeded

loading scripts from a webserver

I (Da Syntax) got tired from typing the scripts line for line into the lua console of the nodeMCU firmware. I wrote a little function to load the scripts from a webserver running on my laptop. This way I can just save the script on my laptop and load it to my ESP8266 calling 2 functions ( netload() and dofile("netloaded.lua") )

function netload()
	conn=net.createConnection(net.TCP, 0)
	conn:on("receive", function(conn, payload)
		print(payload)"netloaded.lua", "w")
	conn:send("GET /test.lua HTTP/1.1\r\nHost:\r\n"        .."Connection: keep-alive\r\nAccept: */*\r\n\r\n")

Prodigity: I've modified Da Syntax's code so that it will now recognize <code> tags. There are still some restrictions though:

  • It does not recognize closing tags and therefore your code should be completely at the bottom of a http response
  • The code tag will only work if it's behind a newline and should end with a newline. (both \n and \r\n are fine)
function netload(ip, port, url) -- url is the remainder after the domain name
    conn=net.createConnection(net.TCP, 0)
    conn:on("receive", function(conn, payload)"download.dat", "w")
        file.close()"download.dat", "r") -- Opens file twice, could be done nicer but does the job.
        line = file.readline()
        while line ~= nil do
            if line == "<code>\n" then
            elseif line == "<code>\r\n" then
            line = file.readline() -- Move file pointer
        data = -- Read remaining file contents after code tag
        if data == nil then
            return 1
  "download.lua", "w")
    conn:send("GET " .. url .. " HTTP/1.1\r\nHost: " .. ip .."\r\n".."Connection: keep-alive\r\nAccept: */*\r\n\r\n")

Future plans

  • Send mac address of the wifi module in get so the web server can return device specific firmwares
  • Put the script between specific tags so there won't be any problems with headers that are added by the web server + gives the possibility to add meta data (e.g. version of script or a signature)
  • Create a nice php/mysql webapp to easily manage the scripts per module

sample projects

Here are some sample projects

Webserver serving JSON (Arduino)

This arduino sketch provides a webserver-like interface and provides a json file (somewhat compatible with SpaceAPI) This implementation has been replaced with the new firmware which pushes its data to a MySQL server.

You can find the code of this old project here

SpaceAPI (Arduino)

The new SpaceAPI is a combination of some PHP, MySQL, and some ESP modules updating the space state and sensor data. The ESP sketch sketch will have several features like space state switch, indicator, Dallas temperature and other sensors, which can be enabled compile-time.

SpaceState (Arduino)

This Arduino sketch is a web client and will update the SpaceState

You can find the code here

NeoPixels (WS2812 LEDs)

See: NeoPixel

Location: hACKspace (ESP-12E for sale)