Guide to Program ESP8266 With Arduino IDE

Guide to Program ESP8266 With Arduino IDE

Want to control your lights from your computer? All you need is an ESP8266 and Arduino IDE to get going! With the huge community and outstanding features, this board is getting popularity among the tinkerers and electronics enthusiasts. Check the complete guide below which explains about the ESP8266 Arduino IDE and how to program with it.

What is Arduino IDE?

The Arduino IDE or Arduino Integrated Development Environment is a software that gives you the opportunity and the facilities to write programs of your own to perform a particular task or address a problem. The IDE also contains library functions to program a board easily.

Since Arduino is an open-source hardware, the IDE that comes it is also publicly released. The Arduino IDE has a text editor for developing code, a message area, a text console, a toolbar with buttons to demonstrate the more common functions of the board and a series of menus. It connects to the hardware to upload programs and communicate with them. A program written in Arduino IDE is called a sketch.

What is the ESP8266?

The Arduino ESP8266 is a miniscule WiFi board with the huge advantage of having a small processor onboard, which means it can function in a self-sufficient manner, i.e., without an additional Arduino board. This board can have as many WiFi-like abilities as are offered by WiFi shields.You can program ESP8266 with Arduino IDE and can create limitless possibilities.

This board is an effective and inexpensive answer to IoT (Internet of Things). If engineers and hobbyists like you want to use the power of Wi-Fi and hook it up with your Arduino IDE, there is great news; this board also comes with a pre-programmed AT command set firmware! You can simply connect it to your breadboard with an Arduino board or use an FTDI cable to connect it directly to the computer and get started with the integration of the board with Arduino IDE. If you do use an FTDI cable keep in mind that it has to be compatible with the voltage level of the ESP8266 board, i.e., 3.3 V

Steps to program ESP8266 with Arduino IDE

Let’s look into detailed but simple steps to connect ESP8266 using Arduino IDE:

Step 1: Get Arduino IDE installed or updated on your computer. You will get the latest Arduino IDE on the Arduino site. Caution: old Arduino IDE might not always work with ESP8266.

Step 2: To connect ESP8266 with Arduino IDE, open Arduino Development Environment. If you are using Windows or Linux, go to the File tab in the menu and select Preferences. If you are using OS X, go to the Arduino menu and select Preferences.

Step 3: A new dialog box will pop up, where you can use the below URL in the Additional Board Manager URLs tab:

This URL contains the source code to get the generic ESP8266 available under Board Managers in Arduino IDE. If you want to add more than one URL, separate them with a comma. Each URL need not be added more than once. Click OK when you’re done.

Step 4: Go to the Tools tab in the menu and select the board that is displayed, e.g.,- ESP8266. Select Board Manager option from the drop down of the board. Scroll down, select and install the ESP8266 platform from the list.

Select the CPU frequency as 80 MHz for now. If you want to overclock, you can later select 160MHz later and see what happens. Keep the upload speed at 115200 baud. It is a safe speed to start with for now. You can select higher speeds for faster communication later.

Make sure you don’t forget to select the matching COM/serial port in your IDE (in the Tools menu under the option to upload speed) as is in your FTDI or USB cable.

Step 5: Finally reopen Arduino IDE and start playing around with the ESP8266’s

Testing the connectivity of ESP8266 with Arduino IDE

We will be using a LED circuit to test whether we can control the lights and make them blink using our computer. You can look up any basic circuit to join the LED to the board. Once you have prepared the circuit, follow these steps:

Step 1:  Make sure the LED circuit connected to the board is correct. It’s time to say hello to the electronic world.

Step 2: Develop a blink LED sketch and keep it ready to upload to the ESP8266 board. Check your FTDI port number set under Tools –> Port in Arduino IDE with the physical port number.

Step 3: Put the board into bootload mode before each upload. Hold down the GPIO0 button (you will see the LED lit up). While holding the GPIO0 button press down on the Reset button. After a while release the Reset button and then release the GPIO0 button. When you release the Reset button, you will see the LED light up dimly, meaning the board is ready to bootload.

Step 4: Once the ESP board gets in the bootload mode, you can upload the sketch to the board and watch the LED start blinking; this will establish that the connection was successfully made.


Get cracking with the ESP8266 board and Arduino IDE! You can create an infinite number of sketches for any number of tasks you want to be done. Only your imagination is your limit!

About Arduino Geeks 18 Articles
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