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Minimalist/compact ESP-8266 environmental sensor/programmer.

Sensor Front

This is a Kicad design which uses a PCB USB connector and integrates a ESP-12 (or 07), CH330N USB controller, a small voltage regulator (HT7233), an AHT-10 temperature/humidity sensor, and a VEML-7700 ambient light sensor. Flash and reset buttons are also included.

Sensor Back

My prototype was done on a PCB mill (0.3mm 30 degree V-bit), so things like trace sizes and clearances reflect that. 0805 passives are used since that's as small as I can go and still be able to route a trace between the pads.

Milled Back

If you don't want to roll your own PCB's, Oshpark does a nice job on these at a great price. The PCB is approx 39mm x 21mm.



This PCB is designed for reflow soldering of the SMD components (I use hot air). I'm sure someone can hand solder it, but it wouldn't be me.

Either or both sensors can be left off entirely, as the application dictates.

R3 should be left out if the ESP modules being used have an internal pullup between RST and 3V3 (which most newer ones seem to have). Otherwise, you end up with a combined pullup resistance near 5k, and GPIO16 though a 1k resistor seems to struggle to pulse that long enough to perform a proper wake. With the modules I've tested (ESP-12E, ESP-12F, ESP-07) there's been no issues with deep sleep wake and R3 unpopulated.

I usually mount my ESP modules on 2mm pin headers. It's not really necessary unless you screw up designs as often as I do. However, doing so technically makes all the USB stuff optional for some boards since I can just remove the module for programming. On the other hand, I'm keeping the USB stuff as I'm finding these boards are an extremely convenient programmers for my pluggable modules.

The standard 1.6mm PCB is too thin to solidly fit most USB ports. I use a thin (0.5mm) 3D printed shim on the front to bring the thickness up. I've milled my latest from 2.17mm thick FR4 and it fits a port perfectly.


The temperature sensor is mounted to the backside of the board from the ESP-8266. Practically speaking, this means that unless you want to monitor the temperature of the MCU, you need the device to spend as much time in deep sleep as needed to bring the temperature down to ambient. When waking up, it's best to take the temperature reading ASAP during startup, prior to doing something like a DHCP connect, during which the ESP starts to ramp up the temperatures. Testing shows that this sort of delay can spike the temperature reading by 0.5C or more. I expect that a combination of deep sleep and ESP-NOW would be ideal.

I still not sure what I'm going to use the ambient light sensor, but it fits the design nicely. Unfortunately, orientation matters and not all USB jacks are going to cooperate with that.

A minimal example sketch is included. It requires an AHT10 library (I rolled my own, at, but others exists, YYMV, etc) and the VEML-7700 library at

v1.5 of the board used the LTR-303 ambient light sensor. I haven't been a fan of the stability of that device. The VEML-7700 Just Works.

Design Notes

The CH330N is running off the 5V rail, which technically means it's driving the ESP UART at (allowing for a 0.3v drop from D1) approx 4.2V, which is clearly above the 3.6V rated max for the ESP. In practice, the ESP-8266 is quite 5V tolerant on GPIO's, and the CH330N only drives at something like 4mA, so this probably isn't worth worrying about.

I've found that 10K pullups on the I2C sensors works in most cases, but 4.7K might be better. Still testing that.

The HT7233 is a perfectly fine regulator, but most similar SOT-23-3 regulators rated for at least 250mA should work. Just check the pinout.

No auto-reset/program circuit is included; you'll have to use buttons like some kind of caveman.

Bill of Materials

Most parts are from LCSC. Some of these choices aren't ideal, but I had them on hand and they work. A design based around one of the more common DFN-6 sensors like the Si70xx series might happen down the road. I'm also seriously considering a design based on a SOT-23-6 temperature sensor like the LM73, as humidity isn't quite so critical for most of my applications. Note that the photos show 1% resistors; that precision is not necessary, it's just what I usually buy.

Strictly speaking, most of the USB protection components aren't necessary for a simple sensor device, but I had the parts and the space...


minimalist ESP-8266 temperature/humidity sensor






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