ESP8266 Thing Hookup Guide

Contributors: jimblom
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Programming the Thing

The ESP8266 has a built-in serial bootloader, which allows for easy programming and re-programming. You don't need a specialized, expensive programmer -- just a simple, USB-to-Serial converter.

We use a 3.3V FTDI Basic to program the Thing, but other serial converters with 3.3V I/O levels should work (e.g. FTDI SmartBasic, FTDI Cable 5V VCC-3.3V I/O, FT231X Breakout). The converter does need a DTR line in addition to the RX and TX pins.

Note: While programming the Thing, it's best to power it off USB. We've noticed programming is more likely to fail if the Thing is only powered via the battery.

The FTDI Basic's 6-pin header matches up exactly to the Thing's 6-pin serial port header. To set up for programming, simply connect the FTDI directly to this port -- take care to match up the DTR and GND pins!

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If you're short on USB ports, the SparkFun Cerberus Cable might be just what you need.

If you solder female headers to the Thing, plugging a 6-pin row of right-angle male headers between the FTDI and header helps create a temporary programming interface.