WiFi Telemetry with Cheap 3$ ESP8266

Hello all,

It's not a new achievement using wifi as Telemetry but this UART to WiFi module has really long range (up to 400 meters), and unbeatable price. Very small form factor (about 2cm x 1.5cm) and light (3 gr). Great for the small sized UAVs. And your Smart Phone or Tablet will become a GCS with no additional hardware. And with module's available GPIOs it's functionality can be increased (PWM, I2C sensors) you can drive LEDs or get sensor data over wifi.

Get firmware from https://github.com/jeelabs/esp-link > this is the stable solution for UART only

Another eriksl's great firmware for ESP8266 https://github.com/eriksl/esp8266-universal-io-bridge > A lot of functions supports pwm display temp sensors but UART bridge not stable, random drop outs

I've been experimenting with new ESP8266 UART to WiFi module and happy to announce you that it can be used as Telemetry module. It should work on all MAVlink devices that uses Serial communication. I tested with ESP-03 and APM 2.6 (3.2) and range is acceptable for Follow Me, or Guided missions. it works reliable enough and its really cheap, start as low as 2,5 $ at several stores (its a 3.3v device you will need a good (about 300ma) power source).  I think APM 2.6 users should receive at least a one last bug fix release (several reports indicates 3.2.1 has some issues with altitude calculations), of course you can compile your own verison.

releated fix 



For those who are interested, I can provide APM:Copter 3.2 (not 3.2.1) firmware with the fix. I am happy with it, doing some great auto flights, checking parameters, follow me flights, you can fly your UAV even without RC controller, directly from your wifi enabled GCS.

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  • @naish88,

         Wow - thanks much for the URL to that help page - best info yet! I can now see the ESP on my tablet and cellphone.

          What I said about the Arduino was confusing - what I meant was that somewhere it was said that the 3.3v from a 5v Arduino UNO couldn't supply enough current. Also, that I needed a 3.3V Arduino in order to safely drive the TX/RX etc. I'm not sure what to order there - it looks like a seeeduino has a switch for 3.3v - I want to have an easy to use USB port to my PC.


    Question: Do you think two large (AG13) watch batteries could drive it for a half hour? I'm trying this out in the field.

    Thanks much for your expertise!


  • @Dave 

    You need to connect the pin CH_PD to VCC to enable the wifi.

    Also you are wrong.. it's the opposite you CANNOT use an 5V arduino. a 3.3v arduino is ok, or alternatively you can use a 5v one with a level converter. 


    ESP8266 Quick Start Guide
    Projects using the ESP8266 Microprocessor
  •  I purchased three of these WIFI chips from ebay but when I just connect Vcc (3.3v) and GRND, I see the power LED but not always the Blue LED - sometime it pulses when I touch the PCB. I never see it as ESP_**** on a tablet or my cellphone. Any ideas? I did read the caution that an Arduino UNO 3.3v cannot be used. 


  • @ Bernardo..  Yes I'm.

  • did you are using a level shifter? naish88

  • is it a product that costs under $500 or under $200?

  • http://www.prlog.org/12461240-saankhya-labs-launches-worlds-first-t...

    They also have a 1-ch DVBT transmitter module with USB input that may suffice if you are looking for Video Transmission only. 

  • I don't know any device using frequency under 900 MHz I could use for video transmission. Could someone please give here some links? Don't enter into radio licensing question please :-)

  • White space communications (less crowded spectrum and works through foliage/non-line-of-sight) has a range of >10Km. 

  • @naish88 I tried several firmwares they were all have buffer issues but eriksl's is the great one, can achive 2 mbps. any baud rate even the odd ones are supported but limited, buffer is the bottleneck. And ESP module can be easily overclocked to 160 mhz. It would be nice if someone go into deep particularly with data rates and overclock. Anyway i have been using it happily.

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