Adding WiFi to any project can be difficult. There are a few off the shelf options that make it easier. One option is the official Arduino WiFi shield. This full-featured shield uses its integrated microcontroller to handle the WiFi protocol, security, and the TCP/IP stack for you. From “plug it in and go” perspective, this is an awesome option for Arduino-based projects. Plenty of example code supports the nicely designed hardware. The main downside to some people is the price.

The more popular option these days is the ESP8266, typically advertised around $5US. They are about the size of a TO-220 packaged transistor. How do they get so small? Using a technology known as “System On a Chip”, or SOC, these tiny modules pack everything on the Arduino WiFi shield inside of a single chip! SOCs are great when space is limited. If production volumes are high enough, there can even be a cost advantage.

After spending some time with an ESP8266 I bought on eBay (which I don’t recommend..), I’ve found some things you need to know before building your ESP8266 based project.

The next stage of the reflow oven project is moving to a custom PCB for the controller electronics.  Overall the board is based on the ATmega32u4 with a DS3231 RTC.  The LCD module is intended to be driven by one of Adafruit’s Serial backpacks.  There is an area of LED indicators (something I learned from a previous project) and some extra VCC/GND pins sprinkled about.

The folks over at Seedstudio have created a first for Arduino:  a FPC version!  In the past, it was very common for this material to be used as interconnects between circuit boards in production products.  The flexibility makes it simple to use and the ability to attach components directly saves space.  These are just prototypes, but Seeedstudio is looking for ideas to help move into higher volume production.  Who is going to make the first…