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Goodbye Arduino: ESP8266 development boards are coming – with Lua firmware!

The ESP8266 is a tiny, cheap MCU with integrated WiFi and impressive specs (datasheet here) and a lot of modules have been on the scene for quite a bit of time.

There are different versions of them, and this is the most common one:

An ESP8266 module

An ESP8266 module.

 

The fact is that, even if those modules have mostly been used for WiFi-to-serial communication with Arduinos, the chip can do a lot more than that. In fact, it’s a 32-bit MCU, which has a lot of horsepower compared to your average Atmega. Also, many of the modules don’t have all the pins broken out (10 GPIOs).

I actually thought about designing a proper breakout board for this chip, but many people from the community preceded me.

There is a toolchain you can use to write bare C to the chipset and access all of its functions (including all the GPIO pins). It’s been out for quite a few time and many firmwares have been developed, extending and improving AT commands.

One of the best news I came across this week is the release of a new firmware for the device, called nodemcu, which supports Lua commands: programming becomes Arduino-easy!

The guys over at nodemcu also developed a nice breakout board: I just bought one and I hope it comes here soon. It has a CH340G USB-to-serial converter on board together with a microUSB connector. All pins are also broken out on pin headers!

 

The nodemcu dev board

The Nodemcu dev board.

This is very exciting news and, in my opinion, the start of a new era for makers! This is what I’ll use for all my future projects.

You can find more info on the ESP8266 forums.

 

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  1. Really nice, i like the work you do on your blog. I was in the same university course you were, electrical engineering, maybe if i had met you i wouldn’t have dropped out to another school. Now there is just one thing, a bloody little thing that really bothers me: it’s Lua, not LUA. As said on their website: “”Lua” (pronounced LOO-ah) means “Moon” in Portuguese. As such, it is neither an acronym nor an abbreviation, but a noun. More specifically, “Lua” is a name, the name of the Earth’s moon and the name of the language. Like most names, it should be written in lower case with an initial capital, that is, “Lua”. Please do not write it as “LUA”, which is both ugly and confusing, because then it becomes an acronym with different meanings for different people. So, please, write “Lua” right!”
    Now, just kidding, keep up the good work. Andrea

    • Whoops, fixed that. I did little-to-no research before writing this post so I didn’t know what Lua stood for, that was interesting!

      My dev board has since arrived and it’s a nice little thing to play with: I advise you to get one if you’re into this kind of stuff as you can’t really go wrong for the price.

      I have written a NodeMCU library for the TI HDC1000 (a temp/humi sensor I have also developed a breakout board for, I’d be happy to give one to you!). You can find the code on my GitHub, and I’m finishing the blog post as we speak.

      Were you at PoliMI too? What are you studying now?

      Cheers,
      Francesco

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