This is a very flexible programmer for ESP8266 modules, like the ESP12, ESP08 and ESP07. No other programmer offers you the flexibility or desired amount of freedom, like this programmer. What I mean ? It's easy to slide in a module and make your first steps. Onboard LEDs will indicate the status of a pin.
This programmer requires an external powersupply / adapter (AC or DC). For this, a locked 2-pin socket and jack it included.
:[Wiring]: When I made my first steps into IoT, I bumped into an ESP12-module. When the ESP12 arrived, I had to hardwire some electronics to create a programmer. It was with ups and downs. Most important problem : 115k2 Bps transfer-rate for programming. Thin wires and high-speed data transfers don't mix well together. They're a source of troubles (interference because they act like an antenna and other errors might pop up.).
:[Pin-status]: OK,. so I had to go for a programmer. Searching a bit, found one, got one. It contained an "integrated" onboard ESP12. Great, no loose connections ! However, everytime verifying the status of a pin, I had to grab my oscilloscope, Logic Analyzer or multimeter.
:[Pins]: I also noticed the pins at the programmer where facing down. Probably ment for breadboard-experiments. I don't like breadboards : not reliable connections and a specific seize is needed. I like female connectors. Just bend some pins of a sensor and it'll fit right away. Use a cable with male pins at the end, and I still can connect it to a breadboard (but at a location I want / need it).
:[Power]: I don't like pins as a way to connect a powersource to a programmer. Pins means sliding off a connector after a lot of experiments. I like powerjacks or at least : no sliding pins. I got several adapters laying around, for experiments. I solder a jack to it and it should work. Right,... pay close attention to the "it should work"-part. Most adapters are DC,... but some are AC. And indeed, it happened to me, that I grabbed an AC-adapter by mistake (2 times). When connecting it to the programmer, it was the end of playing with the ESP12. Just poooffff...
:[More and more]: OK,. after several hard lessons (see above), I got the sourcecode ready. Great ! Or not ?!? I had some projectboards, ready for the ESP12s. Next problem I ran into : how can I program 10 pieces ESP12s ? The official route is : desolder the programmed ESP12, and solder a new one onboard (times 10). What ?! This is not the way I like to work.
This last bottleneck made me realize : "I've to create a better programmer." And well,... here it is !
Well, I tackled several important issues :
I enjoy to improve a design. I've created several versions of this programmer. Sometimes the improvements were minor, sometimes less minor. So what you get, is a dedicated tool, using proven and sometimes out-of-the-box techniques.
(*) Ha, you probably think : "Why is shipping from the Netherlands so special ?" It isn't, but in general, shipping takes less time, than from China. On the other side, this tool doesn't exist in China (so you even have to wait longer). All items I ship, are send by priority mail.
:[Some background info]: An ESP8266 is an IC (Integrated Circuit, or chip) which works like a tiny computer. It's dedicated to do "WiFi-stuff". When assembled to a board, including additional electronic components it's called a module. An ESP-07, ESP-08 and ESP-12 are coded names for such modules. A module contains several inputs and outputs. Inputs can be digital and analog signals. Outputs are digital and can control other ICs, LEDs, buzzers, relays or, well a ton of options are available. And like a computer, it requires a kind of "Operating System". See it as DOS, Windows, Unix or whatever operating system you're familiar with.. Such type of OS is stored at the onboard memory-IC of the module, which is a kinda harddisk at your computer.
When buying an ESP-module, default an OS is present. You can "talk" to it by serial-port communication. Default, there's no program onboard the ESP-module. I assume you got several programs installed at your computer, like a webbrowser, mail-program and alike. For an ESP-module, you need to create such software yourself. This software is called a sketch, script or -like I prefer- sourcecode.
Writing your own sourcecode offers a lot of freedom : you can make it as complicated as you like. Control external devices or read out sensors and present results at a webpage, access it by mobile phone, laptop, or other WiFi-device. Lucky for you, at internet a lot of tutorials are available to get started. There are even forums available to ask for help.
The sourcecode for a module, has to be developed at a computer. After this is done, you need to transfer it to the ESP-module. Such can be done by a programmer, like this Flex NodeMCU programmer.
I've written a document for this programmer as a troubleshooter if things don't start well. Also, you can find some links to YouTube and others sites to get a basic idea and get started. You can download it >here<
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About 20 years ago I finished my study Business Management (B.Sc) including a background in Chemistry. During my study I assembled / repaired computers, designed web-pages to get some money to burn. When I finished study I became a software engineer (Oracle and Visual Basic) and worked for several large companies. In 2002 I got in contact with a small business in dental healthcare. Their request was to develop a software-tool for their whole business : keep track of sales, stock, working procedures, Human Resource and alike. Spending time at each department, I figured out what they needed. Developed it from A to Z. I even had to design the carton package for it (am still proud of it). It was a wise lesson. It provided very good experience, to run such a project on my own.
After a while, the software-tool required an encryption hardware key (kind of USB-stick). Oh man, this was my real introduction into the world of electronics. I loved it, looking for more and more input, gaining experiences. It was the moment I felt :" I can create whatever I want". It's a mighty feeling !
Back in those days, electronic shops were still scarce. Whenever I needed something, most of the time they didn't even had it in stock. I had to pre-order it. Next, I noticed I could order components at a far better price, in large quantities, abroad. Those were the days internet-shops popped up. It made me order all kind of components. After a while I stocked 1.000.000+ components.
If I look back now, it's hard to say : "I'm just a hobbyist".
Research and Developement is where my heart is. Whenever I notice an electronic device lacks a certain functionality, it peeks my interest. Same goes for tools which don't exist yet, but I wish there was "something" available / for sale. That's the moment you'll see me absent minded. I'm searching and crawling for solutions (even outside the box), start with raw ideas, create prototypes and tinkering. And when ready,... use it.
When creating prototypes or final versions, I often end up with 10 pieces (minimum). And exactly this is where selling at internet (i.e. Indie) steps in.
So what am I ? If I can't come up with a straight and short answer, people mumble : "Creative problem-solver". I think it's a good description. I can stick with that.