This tutorial will help you get started with the KEYES ESP-13 WiFi Shield.
The ESP-13 WiFi Shield is compatible with an Arduino UNO and has the same form-factor. Essentially this shield will give your Arduino project WiFi capabilities. While it interfaces nicely with the Arduino, it can operate without it. However, if I were planning on using the shield independantly, then I probably would opt for an ESP module rather than a shield.
I bought my shield from Jaycar (CAT.NO: XC4614), however you can get it much cheaper from other online retailers at about a quarter of the price. The instructions on the Jaycar website are not that good, and at first I thought I had bought myself a useless product. It just didn't seem to work regardless of what I tried. There were some tutorials online that gave me hope, only to find that my shield was not quite the same and therefore I did not get the same results. But after countless hours of trial and error and patching various bits of knowledge together, I finally worked out how to use this shield. Everything has fallen into place. And it is easier that you would think... let me show you how.
- Arduino UNO (or compatible board)
- KEYES ESP-13 WiFi Shield - from Jaycar (Cat. No: XC4614)
- USB cable - to connect Arduino to Computer
- 4 wires: 4 x Male to Male connectors
Libraries and IDE
While there are many Arduino IDE alternatives out there, I would recommend that you use the official Arduino IDE for this project. I used the official Arduino IDE app (v1.8.5) for Windows 10.
Make sure to get the most up-to-date version for your operating system here.
Upload BareMinimum Sketch
Upload a BareMinimum Sketch to the Arduino UNO (or compatible board) before making any connections to the ESP-13. We want to upload the BareMinimum sketch because we don't want the Arduino UNO interfering with our setup in anyway. Here is how to do that:
- Start your Arduino IDE
- Connect the Arduino UNO to the Computer using a USB cable
- Select: File > New (or Ctrl + N)
- Select: File > Examples > 01.Basics > BareMinimum
- Select: Tools > Board > Arduino/Genuino UNO
- Select: Tools > Port > COM4 (Your Arduino may be on a different COM port)
- Select: Sketch > Upload (or Ctrl + U) - or click on right arrow symbol
- After the sketch has uploded. Disconnect the USB cable from the computer/Arduino.
IDE Configuration for ESP-13
Now for the fun part. The ESP-13 WiFi Shield is itself a microcontroller, however, the Arduino IDE is not by default, configured to communicate with or program the ESP-13 WiFi Shield. We are about to change that:
- Select File > Preferences from the Arduino IDE menu (or Ctrl+Comma)
- Insert the following text into the Additional Boards Manager URLs field:
If there is a URL in that space already, then insert a comma, and append the URL to the end:
- Once the URL is added, press OK.
This will allow us to install the ESP8266 package in the next step.
Installing the ESP8266 board
- Select: Tools > Board: "xxxx" > Boards Manager
- Search for ESP8266 using the Search bar
- Select the "esp8266 by ESP8266 Community" board from the list.
- Select the latest or most up-to-date version from the drop-down box (eg. 2.4.2)
- Press the Install button.
- Make sure that the esp8266 board is installed. Then press the "Close" button
- Choose the ESPDuino(ESP-13 Module) from the ESP8266 Modules list:
Tools > Board: "xxxx" > ESPDuino(ESP-13 Module)
ESP-13 Flash Settings
You will then want to check that you have the following settings in the Tools menu of the Arduino IDE:
- Board: "ESPDuino (ESP-13 Module)"
- Flash Size: "4M (1M SPIFFS)"
- Debug port: "Disabled"
- Debug Level: "None"
- IwIP Variant: "v2 Lower Memory"
- Reset Method: "ESPduino-V2"
- VTables: "Flash"
- CPU Frequency: "80MHz"
- Upload Speed: "115200"
- Erase Flash: Only Sketch
- Port: - (we will select that later)
The Arduino IDE is now able to communicate with, and program the ESP-13 WiFi shield.
Now let us have a look at how to use the default AI-Thinker AT-firmware that comes pre-loaded on the shield.
Preparing the WiFi Shield for Communication
The Keyes ESP-13 WiFi shield comes pre-loaded with AI-Thinker firmware. I thought I just had to place the WiFi shield on top of the Arduino UNO, and I should be able to send through some AT commands via the Serial monitor. Yes - it is a shield, and yes, we will use it as a shield later on, but if you want to use the Serial monitor while the shield is sitting on-top of the Arduino UNO, you will need to make use of the SoftwareSerial library. You can go down this path, but it is cumbersome. There is a better way. We will still need the Arduino UNO, but we need to connect it to the ESP-13 Shield in the following manner:
- Make sure that the Arduino UNO is OFF (i.e. not connected to power or USB port)
- Place the ESP-13 WiFi shield NEXT TO the Arduino UNO
- Connect a Red wire between 5V on Arduino UNO, and 5V (Arduino side) of the ESP-13 shield
- Connect a Black wire between GND on Arduino, and G (Arduino side) of the ESP-13 shield
- Connect a Green wire between D0(RX) on Arduino, and TX (UART - Arduino side) of ESP-13
- Connect a Yellow wire between D1(TX) on Arduino, and RX (UART - Arduino side) of ESP-13
- Make sure that both of the switches on the ESP-13 WiFi Shield are in the "ON" position.
Serial Monitor Setup
- Plug the USB cable into the computer, and the other end into the Arduino
- You should see a Red LED ignite on the ESP-13 Shield.
- In your Arduino IDE, make sure the correct COM port is selected:
Tools > Port > COM4 (Arduino/Genuino UNO) - your port may be different.
- The IDE recognises that an Arduino is using that COM port, even though ESP-13 Board selected
- Open the Serial Monitor: Tools > Serial Monitor (or Ctrl + Shift + M)
- Select: Both NL & CR from the drop-down box at the bottom right side of the Serial Monitor.
- Select: 115200 baud from the other drop-down box in the Serial Monitor window.
- Press the RESET (RST) button on the bottom left of the ESP-13 WiFi Shield.
- You may see some garbled information come through, but you should see "Ai-Thinker Technology Co.,Ltd" and "ready" messages in the debug window.
- You can now send through your AT-commands to the ESP-13 WiFi shield.
Using default AI-Thinker AT-firmware
Now is a good time to test the AI-Thinker AT-firmware. It is possible to program the Arduino to send a sequence of AT commands to the ESP-13 WiFi Shield, but for demonstration purposes, I will show you how to send the commands manually via the Serial monitor.
- If you see "ready" within the Serial Monitor window, the ESP-13 is ready to receive AT commands.
- Type: AT into the box at the top and press the Send button (or Enter)
- You should now see the AT command in the debug window, and a response "OK"
The commands allow you to test, query and configure the ESP-13 shield. Essentially a command-line interface. Try out the following commands to get a feel for these functions/queries. The commands are in bold, and I placed some of the responses that I got in the line below.
This resets the ESP-13 board. It provides some info about the board.
AT version: 0.40.0.0 (Aug 8 2015)
SDK version: 1.3.0
Ai-Thinker Technology Co.,Ltd.
Build:188.8.131.52 Sep 11 2015
+CWMODE:2 [1=STA, 2=AP, 3=BOTH]
+CWLAP:(3,"MYACCESSPOINT", -53, "xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx",6,-12)
So there you go. Now you have everything need to configure your ESP-13 WiFi shield. Once you are tired of playing around with AT commands, I will show you how to re-program and upload sketches to the ESP-13 WiFi Shield, and use it the way it was designed to be used (i.e. as a shield). To upload sketches to the Shield, you will need one extra wire. But I think that deserves to be another tutorial. Stay tuned.
In this tutorial, I showed you how to configure your Arduino IDE for the ESP-13 shield. I also explained how to wire the ESP-13 WiFi shield so that you can communicate with it using the Serial monitor. I hope this tutorial helped you in some way. If it did, please let me know in the comments below. I will be following up with another tutorial, which will show you how to upload sketches to the ESP-13 WiFi Shield, and free it from your computer.