Playing with the ESP32

With my new spare time recently I started revisiting some of my old electronics projects. Most of what this entails is blowing up LEDs, destroying Arduinos and generally discovering how little I know about the world of microelectronics.

As part of an AliExpress order, to replace some of the components that had been lost in the most recent experiments, I had added a few ESP32 chips to my order. I'd heard good things about them and the concept of a cheap chip that was slightly more powerful than Arduino and has built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth sounded almost too good to be true.

My first experience was not great - using the Arduino IDE on a Mac, I was unable to get any programs to upload to the chip. After much googling it seems that using USB serial on a Mac is a losing battle - unless you're willing to install and untrusted Chinese firmware which was not something I was willing to do.

Instead I tried using Arduino IDE on a Windows machine. This seem to do the trick and I was able to upload some of the test programs to the ESP32. With literally no coding required I was able to have a webpage control a LED on the chip.

The Arduino IDE package includes examples that show the chip running as a web server, connecting to Bluetooth, and many more.

You can also just use the chip as a simple microcontroller- I was able to recompile some Arduino projects fairly easily with some pin changes.

I haven't had a chance to use the chip for anything exciting yet, but the possibilities are great, and I’ll definitely be using this chip in future projects.