Being able to control home appliances via the Internet is a dream come true for many people. Not only does it make life easy, but also helps save energy. Unlike in the past, home automation is not expensive and doesn’t require specialists to build your own home automation system. Now, even an electronics newbie who gets his or her hands on an Adafruit Feather Huzzah ESP8266 can do it. Are you wondering why this board is great to build home automation or IoT projects? Well, let us find out.
What is the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266
The Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 is an all-in-one Wi-Fi board that is ideal for IoT projects. Just as its name suggests, it is designed to be thin and light. This makes it small enough to fit in your home automation projects with limited space requirements.
The board is built around the ESP8266 WiFi chip. This microcontroller operates at a logic level of 3.3V and is clocked at 80MHz. The ESP8266 chip has complete Wi-Fi stack and a Tensilica core, which makes it an all-in-one SoC. Using it, you can access your Wi-Fi network and communicate with both local and online servers, allowing remote control of your devices.
Programming the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 is simple and no boot loading is required as it comes programmed with the Lua Interpreter. Therefore, you can program it using NodeMCU Lua straight from the box. If you are not familiar with NodeMCU Lua or simply don’t feel like learning a new programming language, you can still use the Arduino IDE to program your board. Of course, you will need to download the Arduino ESP8266 library if you want to use the Arduino IDE.
There are several things that make the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 board special compared to other ESP8266-based boards in the market. For starters, it is very easy to program unlike many other ESP8266 boards. Therefore, you do not need to use an FTDI breakout board or cable to program it. It has an on board CP2104 USB to serial converter, so all you need to do is plug it to your computer and upload your code. Note that you might need to install the CP2104 drivers on your computer, depending on your operating system.
If you have used the basic ESP8266 module, you know how frustrating it is to press and hold the reset and flash buttons while waiting for the code to start uploading. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of doing so then you won’t need to, when using the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 board. This is because it supports auto-reset, which automatically puts the board in bootloading mode before a program is uploaded.
Another strength of the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 board is its size. It is very small and light. Therefore, it can be integrated into projects that have size constraints. It also has a JST connector for power, so it’s very easy to power from LiPo batteries.
How to Use the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 for Your Open Home Automation Projects
The Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 board board is part of a long line of FeatherWings add-on boards. Each board has a specific function that can be used together with the ESP8266 board or separately to accomplish different home automation tasks. Some of the boards available in the feather wings line include:
- FeatherWing 128×32 OLED
- FeatherWing 7-segment LED matrix display
- FeatherWing Latching mini Relay
- Feather board prototyping add-on
- FeatherWing RTC board
- FeatherWing terminal block breakout board
These boards can be used together with the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 in home automation projects. For instance, you can use the terminal block breakout board to make it easy to interface the ESP8266 board with other peripheral devices or the RTC board to enable the ESP8266 to use the real time when logging sensor data. Using the feather wings boards is easy because they all have a compatible pin configuration.
There are many home automation projects that you can accomplish while using the feather HUZZAH ESP8266. For instance you can use it to make a motion triggered intruder alert system that switches on security lights or an alarm and sends you a tweet when motion is detected inside the house while you are away. This is a simple yet useful system that could keep your home safe.
There are several other hardware parts that you need when using the feather huzzah ESP8266. They include a micro USB cable and a Li-Po battery. The USB cable is used to power as well as program the board. If you are intending on using the board in a remote location, you can use a Li-Po battery. The board has a Li-Po battery connector, so no soldering is needed.
Most of the times the board comes with no header pins soldered on it. Therefore, you need to fist solder the pins when you get your board, unless you are planning on soldering or attaching wires directly to the pinholes.
What Could be Better With the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266
One of the downsides of the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 is that it only has one analog pin. In addition to this, the analog pin can measure a maximum range of 0 – 1.0V which is too little for most analog sensors. This limits the number of sensors you can use with it.
This problem can be solved by adding an analog to digital converter (ADC) that has several channels and higher reference voltage, on the board. A good example of a Wi-Fi board with an on-board ADC is the adafruit feather M0 Wi-Fi. It runs on the Cortex M0+ processor which has a 12-bit ADC with 10 channels. You can attach up to 10 analog sensors to it, which increases its functionality.
My Verdict on the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266
The Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 is an all-in-one Wi-Fi board that is perfect for low-power home automation and IoT projects. It might have that small shortcoming I just pointed out, but the advantages it brings to the table are far too many. Therefore, if you asked my advice on what to buy for your upcoming home automation project, my first answer would be the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266.