What is ESP8266 WiFi Module?

What is ESP8266 WiFi Module
Photo credit: ghalfacree Mirobot Robot Kit via photopin (license)

If you don’t have much knowledge about ESP8266 WiFi module and looking for more details this article is for you.

ESP8266 is a compact and low cost chip with an inbuilt WiFi module and a microcontroller. It was invented by Espressif Systems in China and manufactured by both Espressif Systems and Ai-Thinker.

It became increasingly popular after the Ai-Thinker launched their first ESP8266 model ESP-01 in year 2014. Low cost and reasonable capacity paved the way for this device to increase it’s popularity rapidly.

So far this device has produced in over a dozen different models. These models provide different capacities and features.

Models available to date are as follows.

Espressif

  • ESP-WROOM-02
  • ESP-WROOM-02D
  • ESP-WROOM-02U
  • ESP-WROOM-S2

Ai-Thinker

  • ESP-01
  • ESP-01S
  • ESP-01M
  • ESP-02
  • ESP-03
  • ESP-04
  • ESP-05
  • ESP-06
  • ESP-07
  • ESP-07S
  • ESP-08
  • ESP-09
  • ESP-10
  • ESP-11
  • ESP-12
  • ESP-12E
  • ESP-12F
  • ESP-12S
  • ESP-13
  • ESP-14

 

Microcontroller

ESP8266 module consists of a ESP8266EX microcontroller which includes a 32-bit Tensilica Processor. It has a maximum clock speed of 160MHz and consumes extremely low amount of power. This microcontroller has a low capacity and it can handle a small piece of code. But it is sufficient enough to use for a small scale applications. If required we can use it with another microcontroller to handle a larger code. To facilitate it, this module has SPI, SDIO, I2C, and UART communication methods integrated to it.

It also consists of 17 GPIO pins. Some of these pins are assigned with specific functions such as controlling onboard LEDs and for reset button, etc. You can use these GPIO pins to integrate few external devices such as sensors and relays to the device.

Furthermore this device consist of four PWM interfaces, a single 10-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) interface and a single infrared (IR) remote control interface.

 

WiFi Module

Inbuilt 802.11 b/g/n supported WiFi module allows the device to connect to an available WiFi network and establish a TCP/IP connection through it.

This device has 3 modes of operation. Those are Station mode, Access Point mode and Station+Access Point mode. Station mode means it operates as a WiFi client. Also Access Point mode means it works as a WiFi access point. Furthermore Station+Access Point mode means that it acts as a WiFi client position and WiFi access point simultaneously.

Also there is an antenna integrated to this compact device. It provides a decent coverage to the device.

Furthermore this device supports 2 programming languages known as Lua language and AT language. So users can write their own code in any of those 2 languages. But before downloading the user written code to the device you need to flash an appropriate firmware to this device. Once you have flashed the firmware you can download your code to the device.

Importantly this device operates on 3.3V voltage. Therefore you must be careful when supplying power to the device.

This device can be used for various applications. For example we can use it to control home appliances remotely. Or we can use it to monitor data from a remotely located sensor. Users can get sample codes for various applications with the Software Development Kit (SDK) and also from internet. It’s up to you to think and come up with innovative ideas to use this small but powerful device.

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