This is the SparkFun ESP8266 Thing Dev Board — a development board that has been solely designed around the ESP8266, with an integrated FTDI USB-to-Serial chip. The ESP8266 is a cost-effective and very capable WiFi-enabled microcontroller. Like any microcontroller, it can be programmed to blink LEDs, trigger relays, monitor sensors or automate coffee makers. With an integrated WiFi controller, the ESP8266 is a one-stop shop for almost any internet-connected project. To top it all off, the ESP8266 is incredibly easy to use; firmware can be developed in Arduino and uploaded over a simple serial interface. The ESP8266 Thing Development Board breaks out all of the module’s pins with pre-soldered headers, and the USB-to-serial converter means you don’t need any peripheral components to program the chip. Just plug in a USB cable, download the Arduino board definitions, and start IoT-ing.
Why the name? We lovingly call it the “Thing” due to it being the perfect foundation for your Internet of Things (IoT) project. The Thing does everything from turning on an LED to posting data with phant.io, and can be programmed just like any microcontroller. You can even program the Thing through the Arduino IDE by installing the ESP8266 Arduino add-on.
The ESP8266 Thing Development Board is a relatively simple board. The pins are broken out to two parallel, breadboard-compatible rows. The USB connector sits next to an optional power supply input, and an ON/OFF switch — controlling power to the ESP8266 — sits next to that. And LEDs toward the inside of the board indicate power, charge and status of the IC. The ESP8266’s maximum voltage is 3.6V, so the Thing has an onboard 3.3V regulator to deliver a safe, consistent voltage to the IC. That means the ESP8266’s I/O pins also run at 3.3V; you’ll need to level shift any 5V signals running into the IC. If your project requires a power source other than USB, the Thing Dev Board includes footprints for a 2-pin JST, 2-pin 3.5mm screw terminal, or a simple 0.1"-pitch 2-pin header. Unlike the original ESP8266 Thing, the ESP8266 Thing Dev Board does not have a built-in LiPo charger.
The Thing Dev Board even includes a PCB trace antenna as a default WiFi antenna. It’s cost-effective and works really well! If you need to connect a more sensitive antenna, or need to route outside an enclosure, a U.FL connector is also available on the board. Some soldering will be required to get the U.FL connector functioning, but instructions can be found in the Hookup Guide we have written for the dev board.
Note: We’ve provided a few Example Sketches to experiment with on your SparkFun ESP8266 Thing Development Board. These sketches can be found in the Hookup Guide in the Documents section below!
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Based on 6 ratings:
0 of 1 found this helpful:
It was no trouble to open the bag the Thing came in, download the Thing plugin for Arduino’s IDE, program it via the Arduino IDE, and see it serving a “hello” message in my PC’s web browser. The library is so much easier/better to use than the old AT command set interface to the ESP8266 - now I see why people love this chip.
0 of 1 found this helpful:
Very useful micro controller.
The flash size on the board was far too small. A blank Arduino sketch used up 52% of the flash. Because of the insufficient flash size I was unable to flash firmware over the air, which is important for the product I am developing.
You can add a battery connector to use a lithium battery, but the board lacks the capability to charge a connected battery or easily check the state of charge.
The reset switch is very cumbersome and a button would have been much more appropriate, because of how often I had to hard reset the esp8266.
This board is good for tinkering but not at all appropriate for creating IoT products with potential end users.
Was the perfect board for me to jump from the functionality of the “bare” WiFi module (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13678) to the full capability of the ESP8266 with all GPIO available.
Good little board. Works well for its intended project.