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DougLorenz

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Better (and cheaper) than Bluetooth -- ESP8266 WiFi

by DougLorenz » Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:35 pm

Here's the project that I am starting. This is outside of my current skill set, so I can muddle along and try, or someone who is more skilled than I am may be able to casually knock it out in an afternoon...

The ESP8266 chip is an incredible new development. It has been listed and used as a serial to WiFi device for Arduino, but in reality it is a full SoC that can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. There are many different form factors, all fairly small, with a number of available GPIO options. The most common is the ESP8266-01, which sells for about $5.

esp.jpg
esp.jpg (91.65 KiB) Viewed 3516 times


One of the things these little microcontrollers can do is take a serial data stream and send it out over TCP using WiFi. It uses more power than a Bluetooth adapter, but the range is far greater. You also have a choice of connectors, with some ESP8266 devices using etched-in or ceramic antennas, and some including a U.FL connector for an external antenna and greater range.

But beyond being a simple serial to WiFi gateway, this SoC can have many more uses. Since it can be programmed using the Arduino IDE, and has a number of GPIO pins, one idea that I have is to use an ESP8266 to receive telemetry data from the flight controller over the serial connection, send that information out over WiFi, and also use a GPIO pin to drive a series of WS2812 multicolor LEDs, causing those LEDs to change colors or brightness depending on information gathered from the telemetry data.

For an initial resource, check out: http://www.esp8266.com/

A good article on the ESP8266 and Arduino IDE: http://makezine.com/2015/04/01/installing-building-arduino-sketch-5-microcontroller/

Universal I/O bridge firmware for ESP8266: https://github.com/eriksl/esp8266-universal-io-bridge

I believe that this has a lot of potential to replace Bluetooth as a short-range telemetry protocol, and bring new features as well. I'm going to try to stumble around with this thing and figure it out myself, but I'm sure that there are people who are far better qualified than myself to point this project in the right direction. Any takers?
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DougLorenz

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Re: Better (and cheaper) than Bluetooth -- ESP8266 WiFi

by DougLorenz » Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:39 am

Here is a link to a NeoPixel (WS2812) library that works with the ESP8266.

https://github.com/Makuna/NeoPixelBus
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VArcht

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Re: Better (and cheaper) than Bluetooth -- ESP8266 WiFi

by VArcht » Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:43 am

Another exciting use( to me at least) is the possibility of running a web server, I'd really like to see a web based (not chrome app) GCS.

This project looks interesting, websockets... :) https://github.com/israellot/esp-ginx
Last edited by VArcht on Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Better (and cheaper) than Bluetooth -- ESP8266 WiFi

by VArcht » Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:52 am

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DougLorenz

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Re: Better (and cheaper) than Bluetooth -- ESP8266 WiFi

by DougLorenz » Mon Jul 20, 2015 3:09 am

I've got a NodeMCU test board on order, as well as an ESP8266-07. They should be here in a couple of days and I will be able to start writing something. The ESP8266-01 that I have doesn't have enough GPIO pins to do anything really fun.

The flying webserver seems like an interesting approach, but a little more complex than the first attempt that I'd like to start with.

For me, this whole idea just came out of the fact that I hate the short range of bluetooth, and thought that WiFi would be better, then I began to learn everything that this little board is capable of. So my primary goal is WiFi telemetry, and then add stuff from there.
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Re: Better (and cheaper) than Bluetooth -- ESP8266 WiFi

by jbar » Thu Dec 31, 2015 11:43 am

I used a BT HC-05 for some time and it worked ok. The only cons was its short range, communication delay and sometimes a bit of instability. In particular when using 115200 baud....

I since changed to a ESP-01 using the ESP-LINK firmware (https://github.com/jeelabs/esp-link) and it works great for telemetry. Range is improved and communication seems to be much more reliable, with the added benefit of supporting MQTT (integration with other personal projects).

The setup is rather simple. I used a small and cheap adjustable DC Step down converter (17mm, 11mm) to get 3.3v from the FC 5V, which actually fits in the back of the ESP with double sided tape, and connected everything to the Sparky Main port. TX and RX lines are connected directly, VCC and Ground go through the Step Down converter. I also had to short the VCC and CH-PD pins of the ESP-01.

Even with this module, and using the ESP-LINK firmware, because it packs a webserver it could interesting to implement a web based GCS running in the quad. Actually, mostly in javascript and using the ESP for serving data and static pages. Because the UAVO protocol is defined in XML and we have bindings in several other languages, it could be feasible to build a web bridge.

EDIT: there is another forum member which developed a javascript parser for the UAVO protocol. The code in the ESP would only require to proxy the messages between the serial port and the webserver, without any manipulation.
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Therflub

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Better and cheaper than Bluetooth ESP8266 WiFi

by Therflub » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:48 pm

I have seen details of this module of a truck forum and watched a video with one fitted to a Tamiya Jagdpanther. The sound seems much more like a real Jagdpanther than the standard Tamiya unit.

Has anyone tried one of these...

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AndrewWem

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Better and cheaper than Bluetooth ESP8266 WiFi

by AndrewWem » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:20 am

I was going to say that a beer would be better than wine as the smaller neck of the bottle would mean less spillage when running. But then I thought with all the movement your beer would just get all churned up and frothy. Perhaps shots are the way to go...
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Harriettmup

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Better and cheaper than Bluetooth ESP8266 WiFi

by Harriettmup » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:09 pm

Why is Drionic so much cheaper than the other machines out there such as Fisher and Idrostar? Is it the least effective?

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