How To: ESP8266 – Remove/disable LED

In recent years, the ESP8266 has become more and more the universal microcontroller that can be used in almost any project. A microcontroller for ~2€ including Wi-Fi and with lots of memory can be found at most at the big brother the ESP32.

The ESP8266 exists in different versions and breakout-boards. The most common, because certified, version is the version ESP-12 with all its sub-variants. This one gives access to almost every GPIO and also the ADC, which is not always the case with other versions. But there is also one “disadvantage” …

A bright blue LED on the PCB of the ESP is indeed handy to see if the ESP is powered. But in projects in which the ESP8266 should be installed as invisibly as possible, this is quite disturbing.

But there are ways to get rid of these LEDs. How to do it and what you have to keep in mind is described in the following article.

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Safety instructions

I know the following hints are always a bit annoying and seem unnecessary. But unfortunately, many people who knew it "better" from carelessness lost their eyes, fingers or other things or hurt themselves. In comparison, a loss of data is almost not worth mentioning, but even these can be really annoying. Therefore, please take five minutes to read the safety instructions. Even the coolest project is worth no injury or other annoyance. https://www.nerdiy.de/en/sicherheitshinweise/

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Requirements

Helpful Articles:
In the case of the hardware solution, you should have already dealt with the soldering iron.
For this you can find more information in the article Electronics – My friend the soldering iron.

Required tools:
-none-

Required material:

In the following list you will find all the parts you need to implement this article.


The software solution

The simpler solution to the “LED problem” that requires no soldering iron or other tools is the software solution. Because a look at the circuit diagram of an ESP8266 in version 12 shows that the cathode of our problem LED (in the circuit diagram “LED1”) is connected to the GPIO02 via a resistor. And if there is a GPIO is, there is also a switching option by software. 🙂

It should be noted that the switching logic of this LED is inverted because the LEDs “negative pole” is connected to the GPIO. In other words, if the GPIO02 is HIGH, the LED turns off, but turns on when it is LOW. This must be considered when switching the GPIO2.

Circuit diagram of the ESP8266 in the version ESP-12. Source: bimbo385@freenet.de or https://vietnhap.com/dien-tu-so/tom-tat-esp8266-va-phan-loai-cac-ho-esp.htm

In case you program your ESP8266 yourself via the Arduino IDE, the following code is enough to deactivate the LED.

  #define GPIO02 2
  pinMode(GPIO02, OUTPUT);
  digitalWrite(GPIO02, HIGH);

If you happen to use ESPEasy as the “operating system” for the ESP8266, you can use the following built-in function.

All you have to do is log in to the Web menu of ESPEasy and set the correct GPIO in the “Hardware” tab in the “Wifi Status LED” section – in the case of the ESP-12, that is GPIO-2. The hook for “Inverse LED” must be set, because the LED is controlled with an inverted logic as described above. Do not forget to save the setting by pressing the “Submit” button.

The hardware solution

The hardware solution is the solution of choice if you want to disable the LED but still want to use the GPIO02 to interact with other hardware. The LED is simply soldered out. Especially the GPIO02 or D4 is on Wemos D1 mini-boards is likely to use – at least from me – because he is right next to the “5V” and “GND” pins.(Perfect to connect one of the famous WS2812B LED stripes) The only drawback: The LED is usually destroyed, but in most cases you can get over it.

The Wemos D1 mini board also uses an ESP8266 ESP-12 with integrated LED.
The LED is located at the front left corner between the housing shield (silver rectangle) and the PCB antenna (golden curved line on the PCB).
The LED can now be soldered out with a soldering iron. Heat alternately for about 10 seconds the left …
… and right contact of the LED. The LED heats up completely until you can push it by gentle pressure of the solder pads. Most of the time the LED breaks during this step. The individual parts can be removed very well with the soldering iron.
If the LED is removed, it should look like this.
Check again that the two solder pads are not short-circuited/connected by solder residues. This is very important as the GPIO2 is otherwise at a constant HIGH level and could be in the way of being used as a GPIO.

This is admittedly the most radical solution. At the same time, it is also the only solution to disable the LED if you want to use the GPIO02 for other outputs at the same time.


Additional information

https://vietnhap.com/dien-tu-so/tom-tat-esp8266-va-phan-loai-cac-ho-esp.htm


I hope everything worked as described. If not or you have any other questions or suggestions, please let me know in the comments. Also, ideas for new projects are always welcome. 🙂

Fab

P.S. Many of these projects - especially the hardware projects - cost a lot of time and money. Of course I do this because I enjoy it, but if you appreciate it that I share these information with you, I would be happy about a small donation to the coffee box. 🙂

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