Run JavaScript in your ESP8266 device

In the previous article we saw how to build the Smart.js framework and flash the firmware in the ESP8266 device. Now is time to play a little more with it.

In this article I will show how to read the temperature and the humidity from a DHT11 sensor connected to the ESP8266 device and how to send those values to a public site using an HTTP GET request, all using JavaScript code.

How to add new files to the firmware

To add a new file to the firmware add it in the smart.js/platforms/esp8266/fs folder. All the files in the fs folder are added to the file system of the firmware during the build process. Those file will be accessible using the File API.

Lets try it creating a file myfirst.js with the following code:

Now save the file and run the firmware build process:

Connect the ESP device as explained before and flash the new firmware.

In the console we can now load and evaluate our JavaScript file using the eval function from the File API:

The code in the file is evaluated and the functions that we have defined can now be called:

The sayHello method prints the “Hello World” message visible in the output area. Instead the “undefined” value is the value returned by the function and printed by default.
Let’s try the other function getMyIp:

The execution terminates with an error message, this happens because the WiFi is not configured. We can configure it using the Wifi API:

The setup function will make the ESP device scan for the specified network and connect to it. If everything go fine the method return the true value.

The Wifi API offers also a method to check the current Wifi status:

Now that the Wifi is configured we can try the getMyIpFunction:

The printed IP is our external IP, the one of our modem. If, instead, we want the internal IP, the one assigned by our access point, simply call Wifi.ip().
Now we are able to write our program and execute it. Time to read values from a DHT11 sensor.

Wiring the DHT11

To read the sensor values we will use the only available pin in the ESP device the GPIO_02.
First connect the VCC and GND pins of the sensor to the respective VCC and GND on the USB adapter. Then connect the DATA pin to the ESP GPIO_02 pin. Note that the GPIO_0 is NOT connected to the GND.

Now connect the USB adapter to the computer and click the “connect” button on the Flash’n’Chips tool. I don’t know why but sometime I have to disconnect the sensor DATA pin before turn on the ESP device otherwise the ESP console don’t reply.

The framework comes with the support for the DHT11 sensor, a global object DHT11 is defined with a read function. The function takes an integer as input, the sensor port, in our case is the number 2.

We can use the DHT11 object simply calling his read method:

The returned value is an object with temperature and relative humidity. Time to publish the sensor values.

Publish the sensor values

We will publish the sensor values in a site that accepts a GET request with the values as url parameters, something like http://mysite.com/publish.php?temperature=22.0&humidity=55.0

Create a sensor.js file in the fs folder with the following code:

Build the firmware with the new file. Before flash the device re-connect the GPIO_0 to the GND and disconnect the sensor DATA pin. After the flash is complete disconnect the adapter e disconnect the GPIO_0 from the GND.

Connect the adapter to the computer, then click the “connect” button in the Flash’n’Chips tool. After the console is connected re-connect the DATA pin.

First, setup the WiFi:

Then load and evaluate the sensor code:

We can now run our method readSensor. It will read the values from the sensor and publish them to a site using the HTTP API. Here the console output:

And a chart built using the published values:

chart

So our little ESP device is able to read values from a sensor and publish them in a site using the Wi-Fi network.

Continuous and automatic publication

What if we want a continuous publication of sensor values?
Here the solution:

This method will publish the sensor data every 5 seconds.

What if we want to start the publication automatically without the need to run it from a console?
Here the solution.

First append those lines to the sensor.js code:

The first line checks if the WiFi is active otherwise setups it. The second line starts the data streaming.

In order to make our sensor.js file evaluated at boot time we need to modify the user.js file under smart.js/src/js folder appending this line:

Build and flash the firmware. After rebooting the device it will start to publish the sensor values.

Conclusions

We saw how to run our JavaScript code in our ESP device thanks to the great work from Cesanta. The framework is still under development so the APIs or the tools can change in any moment.

I think there will be for sure a lot of news in the coming months. One thing will be the integration of the web server Mongoose in the Smart.js framework, that means connecting directly to the device using the browser!
Another thing, as I can understand from the Smart.js online dashboard, is that we will be able to upload our JavaScript code directly from our browser so we don’t need to flash the firmware every time we update the code!!!

Build the Smart.js framework

Cesanta has developed a JavaScript engine, capable of run JavaScript code in the ESP8266 device and in other embedded devices. The JavaScript engine is provided with the Smart.js framework. The framework offers a set of APIs for files management, networking and WiFi management, SPI and I2C communication, GPIOs and Cloud services. The framework is distributed ready to flash under Windows and Mac. Here you can find a short guide.

In this article I will show how to build the framework under the Ubuntu’s like OS and flash your ESP8266-01 device with the latest Smart.js framework version.

Framework build

In order to build the Smart.js framework we need first to install Docker. A complete and updated set of instructions on how to install Docker can be found here. To make it short you can simply run this command in the console:

After the Docker installation is complete we checkout the framework code:

To build the framework move to the esp platform directory:

and run the build process:

The first time it will require a little bit because the tool has to download the docker images. Next builds will be really fast.

The three binary files composing our ESP firmware will be generated under the firmware folder. Now we need the tool to flash the ESP device.

Flash’n’Chips build

The Smart.js framework is provided with a tool for flashing our devices: Flash’n’Chips.

fnc

To build the tool first we need to install the required dependencies: Qt 5 and libftdi.

To install Qt 5 you can use the installer distributed by Qt here. It will install all the Qt tools under the specified folder. In the folder you will find the binary required to compile Flash’n’Chips. I suggest to add the bin folder to your PATH variable:

To install the libftdi library run:

Now we are ready to compile the Flash’n’Chips tool. Move to the source folder:

And run first:

then:

In a bit the tool will be ready to be executed. Time to connect the ESP device to your computer.

Wiring

To connect my ESP 8266-01 I’m using a FT232 adapter. If you are using it remember to set it to 3v3.

ft232

We connect the respective VCC and GND pins, same for RX and TX pins but inverting them. We need also to connect the ESP CH_PD to the VCC and, only for the flashing process, the ESP GPIO_0 to the GND.

ft232 esp8266_bb

We are now ready to flash the previously built firmware into the ESP device.

Flash the ESP

Connect the USB adapter and run the Flash’n’Chips tool using this command from the flashnchips folder (I had to use this parameters for some issues with my ESP board):

The tool should show the “Flash firmware” button active.

fnc ready

If not press the “Detect devices” button and see if the adapter is recognized.

Press the “Flash firmware” button and the flash process will start. You can see the progress bar running and the current operation explained under it.

fnc flash

When the process is completed the communication console will be activated under the progress bar area. You will see some messages from the device.

fnc console

Now we are ready to run some JavaScript commands in our ESP device.

Play with console

The Flash’n’Chips console has two areas, the first shows the device output, the second let us write commands to send to the device. The commands are snippets of JavaScript code that are executed on the device.

We can start writing a simple expression:

The device will calculate it and reply with the result:

We can also use the framework’s APIs, for example we can list the files present on the device:

It should output something like:

These are some of the JavaScript functions that our device can run. In the next article we will see how to run a simple program that reads values from a DHT11 sensor and publish them in a site.