Although makers/hackers/DIY enthusiasts have been around since man invented the wheel — or perhaps even before — it seems that a big part of what’s fueled the current crop of home invention has been inexpensive development boards like those developed by Arduino. In fact, if you’re going to make a simple robot or automatic device, Arduino products, specifically the Arduino Uno acts as a sort of de facto standard.
The great thing is that this means that there is an incredible pool of resources to pull from, including learning materials and expansion shields. This works really well for simple applications, but there are other options available that have more power and/or communications capabilities than what the Uno offers. One exciting possibility involves development boards based around the ESP8266 and ESP32 WiFi modules. Not only do these modules have WiFi capabilities, they can be very small, and feature a powerful ARM processor.
If you’d like to get your feet wet with this system, this X-Project Starter kit features boards with an ESP32, as well as one with the ESP8266-based WROOM-02. Along with these boards, the kit includes a series of “X-size” shields, so you’ll have components to play with right off the bat.