The ESP8266 is a small WiFi module that has become very popular in the maker and developer community. The ESP8266 comes in different flavors and form factors for example; you may use the WiFi module just by itself and a Microcontroller or bundled together in a development kit such as the NodeMCU.
Here’s a list of most popular dev kits with the ESP8266 module on the market:
These dev kits are available from different distributors across the world so it makes them widely available.
Now let’s talk about what you need to tinker with these little guys and actually do something fun! All of these boards can be used with the Arduino IDE so if you don’t have it go ahead and install the latest version.
Next, install the Arduino ESP8266 Library. Under Arduino IDE, go to Preferences window and enter the following url under:
“Additional Board Manager URLs”:
Second, go to Tools > Board > Board Manager and search ESP8266 and install library.
After successfully installing the library the board menu should now include a list of all supported ESP8266 board family.
Now you are almost ready to code and program the ESP boards. However, there is one more important step, drivers.
Each family of the ESP uses different USB to Serial interface drivers, without the right one for your operating system and board you won’t be able to flash these boards. Please see each family website for the right driver.
SparkFun ESP8266 Thing (Drivers)
WeMos D1 (Drivers)
Now you are ready to get started coding.