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ESP8266-01 Arduino Shield

(click thumbnail)
ESP8266-01 shield for Arduino

ESP8266 Voltage and Current:
Please note that a ESP8266 runs on 3.3V.
When using Serial with 5V RX-TX then use a 3.3V<->5V 'Logic Level Converter'.
Wi-Fi transmit can use up to 215 mA (too much for a 5V Arduino UNO). Use a 500-800 mA power supply or, for example, a DCCduino UNO (max. 800 mA). A 5-15V to 3 .3V circuit can be found in the electronic scheme (click thumbnail 5).

The Shield:
I use the Arduino Prototype Shield v5 with already soldered headers, two buttons an two LEDs + resistors.

HardwareSerial and SoftwareSerial:
Serial communication with Arduino is selectable with jumpers. With SoftwareSerial you can use Arduino's USB.
The SoftwareSerial RX buffer should be increased to prevent overflow and lost data:
File: <drive>:\<path>\Arduino\hardware\arduino\avr\libraries\SoftwareSerial\SoftwareSerial.h
 // ****** #define _SS_MAX_RX_BUFF 64 // RX buffer size
 #define _SS_MAX_RX_BUFF 256 // RX buffer size

Use the Arduino IDE to Flash your own ESP8266 firmware:

ESP8266 Arduino Shield as ESP8266-01 Programmer:
Solder a 2x4 pins headers on the shield as adapter for ESP8266-01 modules. Then you can use the ESP8266-01 as separate module with two GPIO ports.