Ralph S Bacon

MicroControllers, Electronics and IOT

The Arduino UNO is dead – long live the ESP8266!

I recently decided to increase the number of my Arduino UNO sized boards (not original ones, clones) from a Chinese warehouse, any of them, I’m not fussed.

Imagine my consternation when the board I wanted, a standard UNO format but with a micro USB socket rather than a full sized one were rarer than hen’s teeth. And quite expensive, relatively speaking.

I can remember just a couple of years ago that all the Far East sites were awash with these boards for about $3 ($2.50) each. Now they are around the $6 mark (£5) – if you can find them at all.

There are plenty of Nano-sized boards at very good prices but I wanted a full-sized UNO board! With a micro USB socket!

What I found instead, around the $3 mark, is the UNO sized board with an ESP8266 chip on it. I rejected these at first, as my brain’s filter mechanism was switched on. But it suddenly dawned on me that the UNO ATMEGA328P had been usurped by the ESP8266 – and why not?

It can do everything the UNO can, plus it has the undoubtedly desirable feature of inbuilt wifi. And it’s faster. Quite a bit faster.

OK, the generated, compiled code is considerably bigger, and so takes more time to upload but the actual C++ source code (that we write) is pretty much the same.

It would be a shame to use such a capable board to flash an LED on and off but then an ATMEGA328P is probably pretty bored at doing that too.

Have a look around the Chinese warehouse sites if you don’t believe me – the UNO (with micro USB socket) is dead! Long live the ESP8266!

I’ve (helpfully) included the link below – it’s an affiliate link that might help my YouTube channel. It shows everything under $5 at AliExpress, which should include those elusive UNO-sized boards!

Click this link to see all Items under $5 at AliExpress!

At the time of writing, I’m off to Germany for a few days to see the family and celebrate my brother’s 55th birthday all rolled into one. I’m just worried about this tickle in my throat…



19 replies

  1. I really like the Arduino line for its simplicity and contributions to the maker communities.
    If I want WiFi I probably also want a lot of other stuff, and then I turn to the Raspberry Pi.
    How about the Arduino Mega Pro you introduced in video #108? I found that one very interesting.
    Also, do you take requests? Tomorrow the Redboard Artemis line from Sparkfun is released to the wider public, and I’ve ordered the Uno type.
    Sparkfun premises ultra low power consumption, full Arduino compatibility, onboard Bluetooth (or BLE), and a bunch of other extras.
    So if it’s not too much, could you please have a look at Sparkfun’s Artemis Redboard line of Arduino clones, and tell us what you think? I for one would appreciate that.
    Thanks for your great YouTube channel 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do not completely agree with this. It consumes lesser power(slower clock), has a smaller footprint(Atmega328) and is also cheaper. This means that it is much better suited for applications which are more basic in nature and are limited in terms of power supplied. Plus it is mentioned that the compiled code is larger which means that their are some inefficiencies present.


    • Yes, the ATMEGA328P-based Arduino probably still has a long life ahead of it, not least in teaching situations. And, as you say, in simple projects that don’t require huge processing power. The lack of Wi-Fi can be a bit of a show-stopper but a simple ESP8266-01 could be used to alleviate that.

      Perhaps I was just being a bit premature on the wonderful Arduino UNO and family!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ralph, how can i put a scroll bar to use with enc28j60 to use with lighting control .çan you help me with the code ?


  4. Hi!Thank you for such great tutorials!Could I suggest the STM32 “blue pill” as an excellent value for money board?Currently very cheap and powerful.Cheers Lach


  5. I have a few Arduino’s still Ralph, and plan on playing with them with a BME280 at some point – to compliment my SONOFF TH10 central heating controller (we have emailed each other about this recently). However, my most recent purchase is that of 2 x ESP8266’s and 2 x ESP32’s as I am experimenting with MicroPython. This combination compliments the RaspberryPi quite nicely, too. Personally, I think Python is likely to be more popular and used more prolifically than C++. Now if only we could use MicroPython on the Arduino :). Enjoy Germany.


    • Germany is great so far, v and it’s my brother’s birthday party this evening. Homemade beer too! 🍻 Regarding python, the only thing i don’t like is that is not compiled, well, that and the mandatory indentation. But, yes, it is definitely gaining traction, perhaps i need to do more on my Pi too.


    • It you want speed of execution, low memory size, and closeness to hardware then short of Assembler, C is the language. For most uC work C++ is overkill.

      Python, as you dig deeper, gets obtuse. Its current popularity – I think – is due more to AI fanboys. Python is slower and requires more memory.

      My take is;
      C for most uC and uP projects.
      Python for programmer wanna-bes and AI fans.


  6. I’ve never actually used an Uno in a permanent project. I either use the Protoduino format or the Nano and Pro Mini formats most of the time, with an occasional bare chip setup. I’ve only ever used an Uno for experimentation as it does lend itself to that but it can be somewhat bulky (especially when you start plonking shields on it) for more permanent use.


    • Exactly so, Nick, these are for demo use as i used two in my last real project (dog deterrent) as i had created full sized PCB shields. Normally i would have used nano boards, v cheap, small and do everything a full sized Uno can do.


  7. Whatever you call the newer boards follower it’s not going to roll off the tongue as well as Arduinites.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Ralph good to hear from you I always like reading your post I hope you are well and that your eye is better now I am in the process of selling all my Arduino boards genuine and China made plus loads of other stuff due to illness and not being able to get out into my shed so if you hear of anyone that is interested please let me know I need to site and list it all out.

    All the best Bob (the rain sensor man)


  9. PS There’s this one available for £2.39 delivered https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/tkkRZhJ

    Not sure if that helps you.


  10. Hi Ralph,

    Shocked by the lack of Unos but I guess everything has its day eventually. Maybe it’s because the Nano fits in a breadboard?

    I’m a massive fan of the ESP8266 but, whilst it has all the advantages you highlighted in your post it has two significant downsides compared to the Uno. Firstly it is 3v3 not 5v (and yes there was a Facebook post by the CEO saying it was 5v tolerant but the datasheet says otherwise). Secondly it has only 1 analogue pin and that only measures between 0v and 1v which can limit it’s use in certain projects.

    I know the Uno form factor has a lot of support but it is important to note that the pin-out of the ESP8266 boards in the Uno form factor aren’t pin compatible and so they won’t work with a lot of shields. The lack of analogue pins and the lack of onboard 3v3-5v logic level switching rules out the use of even more shields.

    This lack of shield compatibility make them, in my humble opinion, not a good buy for beginners who may not realise that using shields could damage the board.

    Personally I prefer to use the Wemos D1 Mini or the NodeMCU boards they are breadboard compatible and also have pre made and prototyping shields available.

    Just my own 2p as a relatively inexperienced maker.

    Hope you have a good rest in Germany with your family, look forward to more great videos on your return.



    • You make some excellent points, Gavin, but least the 3.3v limitation. I guess some might chance that the GPIO pins are, at least, 5v tolerant but I’m not that sure. Adding a level shifter is easy but messy, too many connections.
      I did a video on the Wemos D1 series, the main drawback was that the shields are tiny! I guess a custom PCB would get round that though.


  11. Sorry Ralph, stuff the ESP8266, long live the superior ESP32.


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