Working with the ESP32

I recently bought a Sparkfun ESP32 Thing, and I’m excited. I think the ESP8266 is really cool, so its big brother is a must have. Wifi and BLE in one chip? Awesome.

Only one problem – the Arduino library for the ESp32 doesn’t include functionality for BLE (including several other functions, like analog read and write). This was disappointing for me because without BLE, the ESP32 seems just like the ESP8266 with a few more GPIO pins. So I made a big decision: I would use Espressif’s IoT Development Framework (ESP-IDF) instead of Arduino IDE.

In short: Compared to Arduino IDE, it’s a dark and scary world out there.

I shouldn’t be too dramatic, though. Following Espressif’s setup instructions is straightforward enough and actually seems to work. Kudos to them for putting together all of this. Their Github page is also really useful. However, they use a command-line environment to build and flash the code for the ESP32. I love a good command line, but it just isn’t as familiar as an IDE.

cmd.png
We’re gonna need a bigger window.

So I tried setting up something friendlier, like Eclipse, but it doesn’t seem to work 100%. I managed to work through the difficulty of adding the various include paths, etc., but Eclipse still won’t let me flash the chip. So I’ll be using the command line until further notice – plus, I’m starting to get used to it.

I mentioned earlier that I’m using an ESP32 Thing. I think that this setup is probably a bit different from what Espressif was imagining when they designed their IDF, since the Thing has so much extra hardware that makes it easier to use. However, I think I’m getting the hang of uploading code to the ESP32 – I’ll make a tutorial for that soon, in case other people are having trouble with it.

That’s all for now!

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