Day 1: The NodeESP Board
This is the first day of the 2018 Advent calendar project. The time has come to open the first window. Behind this calendar door you will find a microcontroller board. The main task today is to connect to the home network and to become acquainted with the board.
In a first step we will supply power to the board by simply connecting the board using a MicroUSB cable to the PC or to a standard smartphone charger. You will need at least 300mA to power the board. Older laptops and USB hubs may pose a problem, if they do not have an external power supply however. After a short while the RGB LED on the board turns on and glows yellow. Initialisation is complete. Now all you have to do is enter your Wi-Fi data. There are two ways to do that:
Option 1: WPS
You may already know the WPS feature from other devices. By pressing a button on your router and on the device that you want to connect, you are enabling both devices to exchange Wi-Fi data independently. The NodeESP board, too, has this feature. Press and hold the boot button for a few seconds (the button near the battery terminal highlighted in the picture) and the LED will flash yellow. Now press the WPS button on your router. The NodeESP restarts after a short while. If the connection was established successfully, the LED will flash briefly and then the green light is on. If this is not the case, repeat the process or try the second option.
Option 2: Configuring via die Website
Visiting the pre-programmed configuration web page offers a second way to connect to your home network. To use this option, you need to connect to the board’s hotspot. This creates an open Wi-Fi network in your environment called NodeESP. Connect to this hotspot using a PC or Smartphone. Open a browser and type the address of the board http://192.168.4.1 in access point mode. The website integrated in the board is called up.
A complete web server is running on the small board, and you can thus visit quite a few sites. Among other things, you will find the Board Configuration page there. You have also the possibility of entering your Wi-Fi data here. Click on WIFI Station Settings. The board will scan for Wi-Fi networks within reach. After a short while you can select your network from the list and enter the password in the text field below.
You have now configured the connection to the home network and can access the board website via your home network. You can also find the board IP on the board’s configuration page. You may need to reconnect to the NodeESP network for that. The IP address assigned to your board by your router is listed in the Board WiFi Status section. Connect to your home network again and view this IP in the browser. In our example this is: http://192.168.178.114/.
Apple’s Bonjour service offers a handier approach. To use this, you need to install a little tool that you can download from the website https://support.apple.com/de-de/bonjour
Note: Only Windows users need to follow these steps. The service is already pre-installed for Apple and Linux users. It won’t work on Android smartphones.
Once the service is installed, simply type http://nodeesp.local/ into your browser to access the board’s web page. No need to remember the IP address anymore. The service behind all this is called mDNS (multicast domain name system). It works because the board constantly sends its IP and domain name to the network. By the way, you can also adjust the mDNS name on the configuration page. This would create a connection to the home network. If you should encounter any problem write a comment below.