In the diverse world of microcontrollers, getting confused is extremely easy. The plethora of choices that there are to choose from can make any newcomer nervous.
The ESP8266 is one such chip. It includes an onboard WiFi, along with microcontroller operability. Think of it as an Arduino UNO, just with WiFi built it.
There are numerous adaptations of the ESP8266 module. The most common ones are perhaps the NodeMCU and the D1 Mini by Wemos. Both these boards use the same chipset, offer the same functionality and have pretty much the same pinout so to say.
In this article, we bring you a straight up comparison of the two.
The NodeMCU is an open source IoT based microcontroller that uses the ESP8266 SoC. Consider it an Arduino UNO just with WiFi embedded.
There are two language options to code it in. Lua and Arduino Programming Language. Depending upon the application, you can choose either.
For beginners, we suggest using the APL as you’ll feel right at home with the NodeMCU. There are thousands of libraries available for pretty much every sensor, and there’s no external software needed, except for the Arduino IDE, of course.
The best part about using the NodeMCU is its footprint. It’s more power efficient than the Arduino, can interface with almost everything that the Arduino can, and can fit anywhere.
Overall, It’s a significant step up from the Arduino.
Also read: Is gaming possible on a Raspberry Pi?
Wemos D1 Mini
The Wemos D1 Mini is also an adaptation of the ESP8266.
The most notable difference between the D1 Mini and the NodeMCU is the size. As the name suggests, the D1 Mini is tiny.
Specifications wise, both are almost identical — however, one area where the D1 Mini is the customizability factor.
You see, the NodeMCU comes with headers soldered on. With the D1 Mini, there are no pre-soldered headers. Instead, you get multiple options in the box.
Talking of options, the D1 Mini also comes in with a bunch of stackable shields consisting of various sensors, relays, and even screens. All these shields go in a stack and make prototyping extremely easy.
It’s also way more power efficient than the NodeMCU. It does, however, use a 3.3v logic level. So you might require a logic level converter.
The only drawback of the D1 Mini, in my opinion, would be the lack of as many GPIO pins. Because it’s a significantly smaller size, it can only hold so many GPIO pins.
Which one should you choose?
It’s more of a matter of what you have at hand.
Both the boards are pretty much the same when it comes to specs. The D1 Mini might be a bit cheaper and comes with a bunch of aftermarket options for quick prototyping, while the NodeMCU is just straight up accessibility across the board.
Technically they function the same. You can even program them in the same language. Hence this choice really comes down to personal preference, availability and project requirements.