I guess you all have heard about the little wonder ESP8266. It is a soc that contains wifi, CPU, GPIO and much more. It is incredibly cheap, only about $2-3 on Ebay.

In my greenhouse I want to measure and control many different things, my previous plan was to use arduino and the cheap nrf24l01 radio for this. The disadvantage is that I have to have another network on our farm (we already have Wifi), and off course I also need to bridge this network onto the Internet in order to make the data accessible for central processing.

So why not use Wifi instead, and I will have all infrastructure already in place!

The ESP8266 soc is hard to use withou making your own PCB, fortunatly there are a number of modules mainly manufactured by AI-thinker. They are named ESP-XX and all have different configurations, I have bought some ESP-01 (the first module), ESP-07 (possibility to add external antenna), ESP-12E and ESP-12F.

List of all modules

The boards have onboard flash memory to store user applications, and some (or all) GPIO pins exposed.

I think a really good “starter kit” is:

A module with bread board adapter:

ESP8266 SMD Adapter Board R2

I bought one adapter with a ESP-12F already soldered on, which is really convinient and it works very well. I also bought two extra without any module on it, and it worked great to solder both ESP-07 and ESP-12E onto it.

A breadboard friendly power supply:

Breadboard-Friendly Power Supply Module 5V/3.3V

The modules are quite power hungry, first i tried to feed it by the FTDI adapter (via USB), but it didn’t work very stable. The bread board power supply is really good, with on/off swicthes and the possiblity to feed both 5v and 3.3v at the same time.

An FTDI adapter (USP to serial), make sure it supports 3.3v:

CP2102 USB-TTL UART Module V2 (Genuine IC)