IoT is everywhere. It will supply circuito.io and its users with endless possibilities to innovate and create connected projects.
Why did we choose ESP8266-01 upon other possible components?
The ESP8266-01 was the most requested IoT component by circuito.io users. There are many more models of ESP8266 and other WiFi board shields, each has its own advantages and drawbacks. The ESP8266-01 is the cheapest and simplest on one hand, but it has weak GPIO capabilities on the other. Therefore, we decided to go with ESP8266-01 yet implement it as a peripheral component and not as a stand alone board.
As said before the ESP8266-01 doesn't have much GPIOs so it is not a good versatile board, furthermore, uploading firmware to it requires flashing, which means using more components such as FTDI which makes it less cheap and simple. Therefore, we decided to add it as a peripheral to the Arduino circuit, rather than using it as a board.
We had two main issues to solve:
Finding or creating a good working library.
Dealing with the high baudrates of the ESP over software serial with the Arduino Uno.
We started searching online for some working libraries to work with the ESP8266 as a peripheral. We found an AT command library by ITEAD, which needed some modifications to suit our goal: an out-of-the-box working IoT solution.
Based on this lib we had successfully established a connection, after dealing with Software Serial baudrate issues. The Software Serial on Arduino Uno pins cannot handle high baudrates, we found a way to set the ESP8266 baudrate to a lower 9600 bps, without depending on the current baudrate of the ESP8266 being used.
Integrating Dweet.io and Freeboard - a full IoT solution
Adding the ESP8266 to circuito was only a partial solution to IoT. In order to give a full solution, like we do with all circuito.io components, we integrated dweet.io and freeboard.
dweet.io is a service offering simple messaging to the Internet of Things. Its service is simple, free, and does not require signup. This is one of the reasons we chose it over similar services. Furthermore, dweet.io offers FreeBoard, an online dashboard to visualize IoT. We supply our users with a standard dashboard including buttons to control the outputs of the circuit and visual widgets for the inputs all already synced with the Firmware.ino we provide, just insert your wifi SSID, PASSWORD and upload to your board.
As you can see, we put a lot of thought into making the IoT solution simple and affordable.
We hope you enjoy it and are always happy to hear feedback so we can improve.