Installing and configuring Arduino IDE for the ESP8266

Arduino is an open-source electronic prototyping platform that allows you to create interactive electronic objects. It contains an easy to use C++ editor and C++ complier. It has a large user base, with many open source libraries supporting a wide range of sensors, and microelectronic devices.

The following steps describe how to install and configure Arduino IDE to work with an ESP8266.

  1. In order to connect and program the ESP8266, your computer needs the CH341SER USB serial drivers. Configure your computer with the CH341SER USB drivers, as follows:
    1. Go to http://www.wch.cn/download/ch341ser_exe.html.
    2. Download an install the appropriate version of the CH341SER USB according to the operating system you use.
  2. In order to operate, Arduino IDE requires Python. Download Python from https://www.python.org/downloads/ and install it on your computer.
  3. Download Arduino IDE from https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software and install it on your computer.
  4. Arduino IDE comes with a few default built-in libraries. However, to have an up-to-date list of libraries for other boards (i.e. sensors and microelectronic devices) you must define the following Additional Boards Parameters URLs within the parameters : http://arduino.esp8266.com/stable/package_esp8266com_index.json.

    To do this, do the following within Andruino IDE:
    1. Open the Preferences dialog box (Arduino > Preferences on Mac).
    2. Specify http://arduino.esp8266.com/stable/package_esp8266com_index.json in the Additional Boards Parameters URLs field.
    3. Click OK.
  5. Many projects (known as sketches) simply require writing your sketch’s .ino file to the flash memory of your ESP8266 based micro controller unit (MCU). If however, your project requires writing additional files (which are located in a data directory of a sketch) to the file system of the ESP8266, you additionally need to install the ESP8266 file system tool. To do this:
    1. Go to the arduino-esp8266fs-plugin page.
    2. Download the tool archive from releases page.
    3. In your Arduino IDE sketchbook directory, create a tools directory if it does not exist yet.
      On Windows can find the location of your sketchbook directory in the Arduino IDE at File > Preferences > Sketchbook location.
      On OS X and Linux based operating systems, your sketchbook directory is in ~/Documents/Arduino/.
    4. Unpack the esp8266fs.jar file into the tools directory (the path will look like <sketchbook directory>/tools/ESP8266FS/tool/esp8266fs.jar).
      Once installed, the Tools menu additionally contains the ESP8266 Sketch Data Upload item.

      This menu item, when selected will upload the contents of the data directory of your current sketch to the file system of the ESP8266.
  6. For Arduino IDE to connect the the V3 NodeMCU, you must additionally configure the following items under the Tools menu:
    • Board : NodeMCU 1.0 (ESP-12E Module).
    • Flash Size : 4MB (FS:3MB OTA:~512KB).

Voila ! The steps above are sufficient to install and configure Arduino IDE for development use with a V3 NodeMCU.