The SparkFun ESP8266 Thing is a breakout and development board for the ESP8266 WiFi SoC â€“ a leading platform for Internet of Things (IoT) or WiFi-related projects. The Thing is low-cost and easy to use, and Arduino IDE integration can be achieved in just a few steps. We\'ve made the ESP8266 easy to use by breaking out all of the moduleâ€™s pins, adding a LiPo charger, power supply, and all of the other supporting circuitry it requires.
Why the name? We lovingly call it the â€œThingâ€ due to it being the perfect foundation for your Internet of Things project. The Thing does everything from turning on an LED to posting data with [datastream](https://www.sparkfun.com/news/2413), and can be programmed just like any microcontroller. You can even program the Thing through the Arduino IDE by installing the [ESP8266 Arduino addon](https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/esp8266-thing-hookup-guide/installing-the-esp8266-arduino-addon).
The SparkFun ESP8266 Thing is a relatively simple board. The pins are broken out to two parallel, breadboard-compatible rows. USB and LiPo connectors at the top of the board provide power â€“ controlled by the nearby ON/OFF switch. LEDs towards the inside of the board indicate power, charge, and status of the IC. The ESP8266â€™s maximum voltage is 3.6V, so the Thing has an onboard 3.3V regulator to deliver a safe, consistent voltage to the IC. That means the ESP8266â€™s I/O pins also run at 3.3V, youâ€™ll need to level shift any 5V signals running into the IC. A 3.3V FTDI Basic is required to program the SparkFun ESP8266 Thing, but other serial converters with 3.3V I/O levels should work just fine as well. The converter does need a DTR line in addition to the RX and TX pins.