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ESP8266 - IoT applications written in forth and basic — Parallax Forums

ESP8266 - IoT applications written in forth and basic

bob_g4bbybob_g4bby Posts: 247
edited 2020-10-30 16:39 in Microcontrollers
I've been researching what's available to make IoT devices on ESP8266 and ESP32, for connection to a propeller to provide wifi / front panel features. If the propeller runs Tachyon / Taqoz, then the ESP can send forth commands to the propeller to execute via serial link, as though it was being typed by the user.

For ESP8266 only, Punyforth seems to work well - I've taken the trouble to write a word glossary for it, which is now included on the Github site The user terminal can be via serial lnk or telnet. Recommended for high-speed applications.

For ESP8266 and ESP32, Annex Basic is an excellent basic interpreter with very good documentation at The user interface is all web based, on four pages for Source Editor, Configuration, File manager and Program Output - how neat is that? A lot of the examples stored on the EEPROM are out-of-date, but anything I've written has worked well. Thoroughly recommended for relatively low-speed applications.

There are other interpreters around for Lua and Micropython but they aren't quite as fully developed from an IDE perspective as Annex Basic - but still very usable if you must program in one of those. For faster execution, both ESP8266 and ESP32 can be programmed using the Arduino IDE - but I've never used that, so a much bigger learning curve which didn't seem worth it for now.

It's very easy to make stand-alone programs with either Annex Basic or Punyforth and the controller boards on ebay are dirt cheap.

If your application runs off mains power, then it's worth getting the USB ported ESP8266 or ESP32 with the most pins brought out. However, if you need to run off batteries, it's worth using the devices without USB port. These will go to to sleep with very low standby current (uAs). The USB port type do not turn the USB chip off and continue to draw too much current.


  • Agree, regarding Annex although IIRC it is only capable of executing @ 15,000 lines/sec and the last time I checked, still doesn't support Bluetooth.

    Annex also runs on the M5stack products.

    Another alternative is B4R if execution speed is an issue.
  • bob_g4bbybob_g4bby Posts: 247
    edited 2020-10-31 07:13

    I compiled a 'blinky' in b4r on an ESP32 successfully. Am I right in thinking that debugging a B4R program is limited to sending log messages via serial link? B4R looks to be a powerful tool with plenty of documentation, libraries and a thriving community. Have you written any code with it?
  • MicksterMickster Posts: 1,893
    edited 2020-10-31 09:30
    Not B4R but I have been using B4A since 2012. These products are very capable and the support is second to none.

    I have recently received a variety of M5Stack modules that I am anxious to try with B4R. Just a bit swamped with work atm.

    Edit: Not sure about the debugging possibilities.
  • How about developing on a platform with good debug facilities for deployment on the ESP? All depends on how consistent the language is cross-platform.
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