Not all is easy-peasy with the ESP8266, with a short addendum

April 3, 2015 | Arduino, Development Boards, Embedded | By: Mark VandeWettering

Okay, after I did my quick video record yesterday re: the ESP8266, I continued to play with it a bit more. And, it must be said, I had a little bit of difficulty which I thought I would write up so that other people who are experiencing the same issues might be able to comment, and hopefully benefit as we get the problem resolved.

First of all, I observed a couple of different issues in just repeatedly playing with the board. Occasionally, the board would seemingly hang when a new URL request was received. It would print out an informational message that said that a new client had connected, but it wouldn’t actually print the message that it received. I had to recycle the power to reset it.

Secondly, when I had the LED connected, it would sometimes just fail to boot my program entirely. It would spew random crud into the serial monitor. Not good.

I suspect that both of these things might have to do with inadequate power supply. I am powering it entirely from a little 3.3v FTDI cable I had lying around (I believe it is this one, now retired.) If I read the datasheet properly, it appears that it can only power about 50ma of external circuitry. That’s simply not enough: I’m kind of shocked that it can boot at all. Peak current draw is probably somewhere around 300ma. Most every page on ESP8266 development says that I should use a high quality 3.3v power supply able to supply at least 500ma.

Next experiments will try to feature a better power supply. MOAR POWER.

Addendum: The module that I am using is the ESP-01. As you can see, it’s very simple, has only 8 pins, and is not breadboard friendly. Luckily for experimenters, there are other varieties of boards available based upon the same chipset. For instance, the ESP-04 has seven GPIO pins broken out, and can needs an external antenna. The ESP-201 is much more breadboard friendly, and includes both an on-board antenna, and UFL connector for an external antenna. There are lots of other types too, all very reasonably priced. If you haven’t bought the ESP-01 already, some of these other boards might be better to experiment with. But there are also people making various adapters for the ESP-01, such as the ESP8266 buddy, which sells for a paltry $2.50 and can adapt the ESP-01 to your breadboard. I think I’ll be getting a few of these.