This page provides a step-by-step guide to connecting up your ESP8266.

Step 1

Collect together the following bits and pieces:

Step 2

Go to the Arduino website and download and install the version of the free IDE that matches your PC's operating system.

Step 3

You will need to add the ESP8266 libraries to your Arduino IDE. These can be added by going to File->Preferences and then typing

in the Additional Boards Manager URLs field, then click OK.

Arduino Preferences dialogue

Step 4

You need to install the corresponding libraries so go to Tools->Board->Boards Manager.... Scroll to the bottom of the list and the ESP8266 libraries should be listed. In this screen they are already installed but you should install them at this point by clicking Install - it can take a couple of minutes but there's an indicator so you can monitor progress.

Arduino Boards Manager

Step 5

In my case I was using the MakerHawk ESP8166 NodeMCU V3 PCB and you need to set the board type, etc. Other websites suggest using Generic ESP8266 Module but this did not work for me. The type of programmer to use seems equally unclear, and possibly irrelevant, but choosing AVR ISP worked. You should use the recommended settings for your board.

Arduino Tools settings

Step 6

The software installation is now complete. Since the purpose of the ESP8266 is to work over WiFi, we'll skip the "Hello World!" example and go straight to a sketch that connects to WiFi.