Programming the ESP-01 | Attempt #1

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Using the versatile ESP8266 to control an 8-bit array of LEDs for displaying a single-digit binary clock!

acrobotic-industriesACROBOTIC Industries 02/26/2018 at 00:440 Comments

The next step was loading some code into the ESP-01.  This module doesn't have a built-in USB-to-Serial adapter, so we needed to build or purchase an external adapter.  Though we've built some in the past on a breadboard, we didn't want to deal with messy wiring, so we went for the latter of the two options and picked up a cheap ESP-01 programmer on eBay.

The thing is that we want to remove the header of the ESP-01 so that the LED board sits flush against its back side, so we needed to connect the programmer and ESP-01 module without using the pin socket.  In such cases where we don't have a header to use, we turn to pogo pins for making temporary-but-robust electrical connections between PCBs.

Luckily we had some 2×4 pin-to-pin breakout boards for a different projects that came in very handy!

Our first attempt, without too much thinking was to create a 2x4-to-pogo pin sandwich board that we could simply plug into the header of the ESP-01:

Unfortunately this didn't work because we only have access to the top side of the ESP-01 as the pins on the back of the module are soldered to the LED board, which doesn't have pads/pins on its top site.  As such, the connections are reversed by a mirror image.