Make ESP8266 REV-12 Prototype Friendly

Introduction: Make ESP8266 REV-12 Prototype Friendly

You might have heard about the ESP8266, it's a new wifi chip that, if used with the correct firmware, can run Lua code and that all just for 3 dollars! The problem is that the most populair version only has 2 GPIO's available. Luckily the new rev-12 is out and this one counts up to 9 GPIO's! Unfortunately the spacing of the holes is 2 mm instead of 2.45 but this can be solved.

Step 1: The Materials

You're going to need some equipement:

  • Soldering iron (~$8 on ebay)
  • Solder (~$2.50 on ebay)
  • Knife, scissors or something like that

The materials consist of:

  • A prototype board (~$0.30 on ebay)
  • Female headers (~$0.60 on ebay)
  • Kynar wire (~$1 on ebay)

The shipping was free for me on all these items

Step 2: Preparing the Materials

First cut the board with a sharp knife before you break it because otherwise you'll get a tear in your board.

Step 3: The Soldering

You'll want to strip the isolation of the kynar wire (entirely you don't have to worry about them shorting). Bul the wire trough a hole and bend it back. The wire should point away from the board (as shown in the pictures) and te other end should be folded around the hole so it just touches it's self.

Next you want to apply a bit of solder to your iron (not to much!) and just touch the golden connector on the ESP. If you can see the solder covering op the hole (on the other side too) it's good.

Next you put all the wires in the designated holes and pull them trough (using a plier or something). If you soldered the wires correctly they can withstand a bit of force so don't worry.

Then insert in the same holes the female headers (you'll have to press pretty hard). Turn the board over and add solder to the holes until they are filled up.

Step 4: Add Labels

Add labels to your headers because you can now not longer see the indications on the back of the board:

















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15 Discussions

I'm having so much trouble soldering the ESP to the breakout board. How do you get the wires soldered to the board without having them fall off? Should I be using a specific wire with an incredibly small pitch? Also, do I need to use a specific soldering iron that will prevent the board from being burned?

1 reply

I assume you mean the wires to the ESP8266? I'm using a particularly thin wire that easily goes though the holes in the ESP, after that you can just fill these holes with solder and the wires will not fall off (some flux might help, though it's unnecessary if you use solder with a flux core). Concerning the temperature, just take a break when the esp8266 gets too hot to touch.

I'm having so much trouble soldering the ESP to the breakout board. How do you get the wires soldered to the board without having them fall off? Should I be using a specific wire with an incredibly small pitch? Also, do I need to use a specific soldering iron that will prevent the board from being burned?

nice work. i was just looking into this new version. how many analog sensors can you connect to this, like 3 photocells maybe? thank you for sharing

11 replies

You could connect 9 of those if you wanted to, i'm currently working an a RGB led dimmer. I'm having a bit of trouble uploading/flashing things to the ESP so i have ordered a separate 3.3V power supply.

Are you programming in C or in Lua?

Do you think it is worth the effort to learn about programming the ESP8266 directly instead of using it as transmitter via Arduino?


just like rutierut has put it, for the size/price of this chip and what it can do, it is definitely worth it. i personally don't know how to code in LUA or arduino, i copy and paste other codes and change minor lines. so i won't actually personally be putting in any "more" time. i'm sure your knowledge about mcus are way ahead of mine. i didn't even know what arduino was 8months ago..


however, check out this board - cactus micro. it's only $11. a pro mini arduino with on board wifi chip (esp8266 rev-11). i haven't received one yet, but author yanc has a very good post on this board;


i have been using the esp chip with an arduino in my projects so far, but this way is more complicated and requires more voltage. much less efficient for battery especially. if your project is running on ac, then connecting them together this way is just fine. i have examples of both scenarios,




if for the first link i switched to only esp-12 and eliminated the arduino completely, also the bilevel shifter, and with the sleep mode enabled on esp chip. this thing could run for a very long time / or forever with the solar skin;

and imagine all the space i would save..!!


but yes for the ease of upload and availability of examples online, using an arduino is usually the choice for wiring, especially for beginners. however the board mentioned above solves all of the issues at once. it can operate on a single 3.7V li-ion cell in many situations. it is the perfect board. :) can't wait for it to arrive, it's been 22days. i will be testing/experimenting with both cactus micro and esp rev-12 on my instruments,


there are many incredible versions of esp8266 rev-12 on ebay. have you looked?


Lua, it's super simple to learn and there are lot's of examples online. And yes i do think it's worth it, it does not only save you quite a lot of money, it's also more efficient and with a chip that has 9 GPIO's what else do you need?

Excellent, thanks. I can't wait for mine to arrive in the mail.

Do you know anything about persistent storage capacity of ESP8266's, and its RAM?

I looked but couldn't find it.

I thought it was 200kb of ROM (for permenant library functions), 32kb SRAM and 80kb DRAM. But i'm not sure.

yes it definitely does require its own power source. i have been using the ESP for a while now, and i get the best results when i apply a logic level converter
. what I am trying to do is to install one of these modules inside a plant pot and have it email you when the plant is thirsty, cold, sleeping etc. for this i need 3 analog sensors and 1 rgb led to change color according to the conditions and also collect data on thingspeak. do you think the esp could do this on its own. could it also control the RGB according to the data collected from the sensors ?? if so, not only my project will be %50 cheaper but it will also be 50% less in size, and probably much more battery efficient as well.. what do you think?


I think that would definitely be possible, for the LED's I would have a look at this page:

Just add another channel and your done.

Concerning the sensors there are plenty of tutorials on this subject so that's no problem at all.

(for example:

So that would mean 3 PWM outputs for the led, and 3 more for the sensors, this will leave room for even three more i/o's so you could even add an autonomous watering system if you wanted too.

One last thing, since you have to use the ESP-12 be sure to pull gpio-15 low too when flashing, otherwise it will not work!

Hey yhea no problem ask anything you like, to check if its running you could: Connect the ESP to its power source, connect your serial out to the esp (RX-TX TX-RX GND-GND) and just put a couple of

print ("Reached point A in code")

in your code and look at the serial output, if no output is given just send an ⏎ using coolterm if you receive a > back the esp is active. About the errors, i have absolutely no idea, at all, how to fix those. They look really weird and i have never seen errors like those before.

Btw, i'm working on a RGB led dimmer, using an encoder right now it's pretty basic but i want to use JQuery for the web interface which turns out to be pretty difficult for me.