The ESP8266 is a single chip system (SoC) from Espressif. The special feature of this 32-bit microcontroller with RISC architecture is the TCP/IP stack which is implemented very close to the hardware. All ESP8266 modules are therefore equipped with WiFi connectivity, which is very energy efficient and can be easily integrated into projects.
In the Arduino world, the ESP8266 replaces the classic ATmega328p in many use cases. Besides the popular NodeMCU and Dev Boards with ESP8266, we also have ESP modules for use in our own circuits in our product range.
ESP8266 technical details
The ESP8266 with its Tensilica L106 32-bit RISC processor is superior to Arduino boards with Atmega328p in many cases. The processor clocks with up to 160 MHz and on most modules up to 4MB memory is additionally available via the SPI Flash FS.
During the development of the chip special attention was paid to a power-saving architecture, for example a deep-sleep mode is supported which enables permanent battery operation.
Our product range includes ESP8266MOD 12-F modules for the most power saving operation as well as dev boards like the Amica V2 board with USB interface and other useful features (e.g. onboard OLED).
Thanks to its high distribution and the good support by the ESP community, the ESP8266 can be programmed in the Arduino IDE as easily as the popular Arduino boards.
There are ready-to-use images available such as Tasmota, ESPEasy, ESPHome, WLED or Sensate, as well as graphical development environments (e.g. Blockly).
Advanced users also use the ESP with PlatformIO, Thonny IDE (Micropython), Visual Studio, Eclipse, with the Espressif-IDF or even the NodeMCU operating system for programming with LUA.
The boards with ESP8266 provide many hardware interfaces like UART, I2C or SPI. Besides the digital IO pins, there is also an analog pin that can be used with restrictions.
You can find the pinouts and connection diagrams of the ESP8266 on the respective product detail pages.
Projects for ESP8266
The ESP8266 scores especially in projects where a WiFi connection is required. For example, weather stations or clocks (with NTP) can be implemented very easily. In this way, control via app can also be integrated for the own projects.
Thanks to the logic level of 3.3V, the ESP8266 is compatible with many sensors and accessories for the Raspberry Pi or STM32. For example, the ESP8266 can be used to read sensor values and display them via a website hosted on the ESP.
What can be done with an ESP8266?
The ESP8266 is suitable as a stand-alone controller as well as a WiFi interface for existing projects. Many tutorials for the controller are available online. Due to the high degree of distribution and the extensive documentation, an entry into the world of microcontrollers with this architecture is particularly comfortable. OTA programming is also possible.
What is NodeMCU ESP8266?
NodeMCU ESP8266 modules are evaluation boards designed for use with the NodeMCU operating system. The NodeMCU firmware can be compiled via an online cloud service with pre-configured extensions (libraries).
Does the ESP8266 have Bluetooth?
The ESP8266 modules are all equipped with WLAN. If you are looking for a microcontroller with Bluetooth, you should go for an ESP32.