In this tutorial short, we will guide you through the process of setting up the Arduino IDE to program the ESP8266 series of boards. The ESP8266 is a popular Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller that can be used for a wide range of projects. By the end of this tutorial, you will have the Arduino IDE set up so you can begin programming your own ESP8266 projects.
Before we start, we need to get the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) installed. We are using version 1.8.19 for this tutorial, however if you are using version 2.0 or newer, the instructions remain the same, but the dialogues many look a little different.
The Arduino IDE can be downloaded from Arduino’s website: https://www.arduino.cc/en/software
Once it is installed, we need to add an additional Board Manager URL to the Arduino Board Manager. Basically, we are going to tell the Arduino Board Manager to look at an additional location so that the program can automatically install the ESP8266 support – don’t worry, it sounds much more complicated than it is.
Start by opening the Arduino IDE. In the top menu navigate to: File -> Preferences. This will open the Preference dialogue. Click the little window button (highlighted in red in the image) to add additional URLs.
On opening the Additional Board Manager URL window, you will see a small text box with 1 (or more) addresses. Don’t remove anything! This is just a simple list of addresses, one per line. On a new line add the following URL:
Once that has been added, Click “OK” and close the Preferences window.
Unlike plain Arduinos, there are quite a few settings that can be configured with the ESP8266. These settings are uploaded with your code. From here you can set the Flash memory size, overclock (or underclock) the CPU, and a variety of other settings. For the most part, basic projects can just use the default settings.
Due to the sheer number of different boards using the ESP8266, the next steps will be specific to the board you are working with. Some may require additional components and special cables to program while others may be as simple as plugging in a USB cable. For specific instructions on each board, be sure to check out the manufacturer’s tutorial!