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The ESP WiFi Shield: the best value for money and low energy consumption

The ESP WiFi Shield: the best value for money and low energy consumption


It supplies Arduino with the WiFi connectivity and the external memory support on a SD-Card; it is based on a new module that is completely programmable, and offers the best value for money, with a very limited energy consumption that make it ideal for battery applications.



It is not the first time that we propose a shield that is dedicated to the network wireless connection, and there are two reasons for that: on a side, Arduino’s world is interested in applications that connect to smartphones and tablets or that may access Internet via WiFi, and on the other side there is the passionate activity of the manufacturers that are always launching new products that are more updated and competitive, with a good frequency.

The shield proposed in these pages is based on a new module that – in comparison to those used in the past (e.g.: those manufactured by Microchip) – has a very limited price, even if it keeps having remarkable features. The module is named ESP03 and is based on the ESP8266 integrated circuit, so to operate in an autonomous way inside a WiFi network; for the purpose the integrated microcontroller possesses an EPROM Flash memory, on which to run a dedicated program. The possibility to run an internal program enables the management of some pins (GPIO), in order to create a system that may interface external peripherals: all of this, without need for much external hardware. In the ESP03 module, in addition to the ESP8266, there are: an integrated antenna, a 4 kB non volatile memory and a power supply manager, besides some passive components. It must be noted that there are various WiFi modules based on the ESP8266, that distinguish themselves because of the form-factor: in our shield we considered the ESP03 – the one we are going to deal with – but it is also possible to mount the ESP01.


Therefore the module – with a very small encumbrance – enables to create a complete stand-alone system for the WiFi. The module is also fitted so that it may interface an external logic, on which to run even some more complex software, as we will see in this article.

The component is destined to the following applications: Home Automation, mesh network, industrial wireless control, Baby Monitor, Network Camera, sensor networks, wearable electronics, wireless location-aware devices, Security ID tag and wireless positioning system signals.

The features and the implemented functions are:

  • it is compatible with 802.11 b/g/n;
  • Wi-Fi Direct (P2P), soft-AP;
  • TCP/IP stack support;
  • TR switch, balun, LNA, RF amplifier and network coupling are integrated;
  • PLL and power supply manager are integrated;
  • transmission power in 802.11b: +19,5 dBm;
  • integrated thermal sensor;
  • support for the diversity antenna;
  • a 32-bit CPU;
  • SDIO 2.0, SPI, UART;
  • STBC, 1×1 MIMO, 2×1 MIMO;
  • only 2ms needed for the connection and for the data packet transfer;
  • current drawn when in off state is under 10 µA;
  • power consumption when in standby mode under 1 mW (DTIM3).


fig 1

The family of ESP modules.

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