3D Printed ESP8266 Programming Jig

The various development boards such as the NodeMCU or Wemos D1 make working with the ESP8266 an absolute breeze. If they have a downside, it is that they are larger than the bare ESP2866, and of course cost a bit more. Just as with the Arduino, once you have the wiring sorted out and the code more or less finalized, your best bet is to ditch the unnecessary support hardware and use the bare module to save space and money in your final design.

The design took a few revisions to get right

Unfortunately, the ESP8266 form factor isn’t terribly forgiving when it comes time for hooking up a programmer. Rather than having to solder a serial adapter to the chip to flash it, [Ryan] came up with a slick 3D printed programming jig that uses pogo pins. If you have to program these boards in bulk, a jig like this can save a massive amount of time and aggravation.

Beyond the 3D printed holder for the pogo pins, this programmer uses a FTDI USB-to-serial adapter, a couple passive components to smooth out the power going into the chip, and a couple buttons.

In the video after the break, [Ryan] walks through the many iterations it took to get the 3D printed aspect of the jig worked out. The design went through a few rather large revisions, including one that fundamentally changed the whole form factor. Even with the jig now working, he mentions that he might circle back around and try it from a different angle.

Programming jigs are a staple of electronics manufacturing, and we’ve covered quite a few that have helped transformed a proof of concept into a small scale production runs.

20 thoughts on “3D Printed ESP8266 Programming Jig

    1. The material costs to build his jig is cheaper than that fixture, and building it is faster than waiting for the slow boat from china (though does use more of his time, sure).

      …but more to the point, just buying a premade solution is not really the spirit of hackaday :P

    2. Not cheaper, or faster. It took me a few days to make this (would take 3-5 weeks to get something from China) and that jig is under $2 to make (ignoring the plastic used in prototypes, might be $5 then). Plus, I got to learn and practice Fusion 360 to do the design which is always a bonus. As a side bonus I can easily print another for myself or for friends or modify/add/change the design to fit certain requirements.

  1. I’ve planned on building an 8266 programming jig, but this guy definitely beat me to the punch.

    I’m pretty sure you could build one much simpler: a basic ‘bed of nails’ pogo pin layout, 3d printed alignment jig, and a soft clamp to push the board in to the pogo pins. No weird vertical holder nor needing pogo pins on both side.

    But, again, he beat me to the punch, great to see something working.

    1. Unless you want to sell the modules pre-programmed, I agree, it is much more practical to go for the ICP solution. In fact, that is the ideal place to use pogo pins, but much shorter ones, as having that length exposed, makes them prone to bending. Smaller pogo pins are also available, such as the P50-B1 or P50-Q1 (different spring end shape).

  2. Huh. I really like the idea of having pogo pins on both sides of the board. I would have spent a long time cursing, trying to figure out how to get them to work on the 2mm centers…

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