The ESP8266 is a WiFi +Processor module that costs less than $3 . The specifications of the processor are quite good, and include up to 4MB of flash, and 256KB of RAM. In addition to these, it also includes peripherals such as ADCs, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, and GPIO.
The extremely low pricing has driven a lot of open source community effort towards software development, and lightweight web servers and programs that allow transparent TCP->UART bridges are also available.
Since the vLabtool uses a serial to USB ACM converter to interface with PCs and Android devices, the ESP8266 with its UART is an easy fit to make a wireless unit.
Two approaches can be tried towards making a wireless device
- Load the ESP with a UART-TCP bridge software, and use Platform specific Applications that use TCP sockets to fetch data from the device via the ESP.
This means that the vLabtool will be locked down to the platforms for which Applications are available.
- Load the ESP with a lightweight webserver, and include applications designed in HTML and JS. Any device with a web browser can now connect to the vLabtool and directly run experiments. The ESP will also have the job of fetching the data from the vLabtool’s processor, interpreting it, generating plots etc.