C/C++ esp8266 Internet of Things microcontrollers WebSockets

ESP8266 IOT Microservo WebSocket

Internet of things devices can be networked wirelessly over internet and integrate easily with cloud, mobile and web applications.

WebSockets ( RFC6455 ) run on a variety of platforms including embedded systems and web browsers enabling low latency bidirectional binary socket communication over TCP/IP.

ESP8266 is a low cost Wi-Fi micro-controller compatible with Arduino open-source electronics framework designed for networked sensor, robotics and micro-electronic control applications.

A microservo controlled by ESP8266 with web & mobile interface

WebSocket MicroServo

In a simple example a micro-servo reports position data and is controlled via a potentiometer (rotary encoder), web and mobile interfaces.

This tutorial demonstrates:

  • Microservo / Potentiometer GPIO control
  • ESP8266 WebSocket Client
  • Binary format Messaging
  • Python WebSocket Library to synchronise state between clients
  • Responsive HTML5 / Javascript Browser Control Interface

Circuit Wiring

  • 5v regulated DC power supply
  • Microservo connected to ESP8266 GPIO 15
  • 100k Potentiometer – CLK -> GPIO 12, DT -> GPIO 13

Microservo Setup

Microservo power is provided by an external regulated 5v DC power supply sharing a common ground connection to microcontroller.

Servo library initialisation and global variables –

#include <Servo.h>
int servoPin = 15;
int angle; // current angle (degrees)
int servoStartAngle = 90; // initial position
int limit = 90; // range of servo in degrees
Servo Servo1;

// in setup()

Servo position is set in a function by passing angle in degrees as a parameter –

void rotateServo(int angle)
  Serial.print("RotateServo: ");

Potentiometer / Rotary Encoder Setup

Potentiometer, a type of incremental rotary encoder based on variable resistance, allows relative rotary motion to be tracked, 2 out-of-phase output channels indicate direction of travel.

#define outputA 12 // Rotary Encoder #1 CLK
#define outputB 13 // Rotary Encoder #2 DT

int counter = 0; // rotary encoder incremental position
int aState; // rotary encoder state comparator
int aLastState;  

void setup() {
   aLastState = digitalRead(outputA);

Rotary encoder CLK and DT pins are compared to determine direction of rotation. Calling map() converts counter (relative position) to angle –

void readRotaryEncoder()

  aState = digitalRead(outputA);

   if (aState != aLastState){     
     // If the outputB state is different to the outputA state, that means the encoder is rotating clockwise
    if (digitalRead(outputB) != aState) { 
      if (counter < limit)
        counter ++;
        angle = map(counter, -90, 90, 0, 180);
    } else {
      if (counter + limit > 0)
        counter --;
        angle = map(counter, -90, 90, 0, 180);
  aLastState = aState;

ESP8266 microcontroller, Potentiometer (Rotary Encoder), Microservo, 5v DC power supply

Websocket Binary Message Framing

WebSocket protocol natively supports binary framed messaging, offering a compact lightweight format for fast and efficient endpoint messaging.

To report and update microservo position command messages are passed between control interfaces and microcontroller as binary data.

A Python service running on server creates WebSocket and maintains and synchronises shared application state between connected clients.

In web browser user interface, Javascript also has native support for (un)packing binary data.

Data Serialisation

A C struct data_t encapsulates two fields – “cmd” (unit8_t) and “value” (int) – two commands are defined, one to report servo position and another to set a new position, value represents an angle.

To assist serialisation data_t is wrapped in a packet union –

// data message
typedef struct data_t
  uint8_t cmd;
  int value;

// message packaging / envelope
typedef union packet_t {
 struct data_t data;
 uint8_t packet[sizeof(struct data_t)];

#define PACKET_SIZE sizeof(struct data_t)

#define CMD_SERVO_ANGLE 12 // command to report servo position
#define CMD_SERVO_ROTATE 13 // move servo to a specified position

Instances of data structs are created representing send and receive messages.

// send / receive msg data structures
union packet_t sendMsg;
union packet_t receiveMsg;

// messaging function prototypes
void readByteArray(uint8_t * byteArray);
void writeByteArray();
void printByteArray();

// buffer 
uint8_t byteArray[PACKET_SIZE];

Methods allow struct data to be written and read from byte array buffer –

// read bytes from buffer
void readByteArray(uint8_t * byteArray)
  for (int i=0; i < PACKET_SIZE; i++)
    receiveMsg.packet[i] = byteArray[i];

// write data to buffer
void writeByteArray()
  for(int i=0; i<PACKET_SIZE; i++)
    // msg into byte array
    byteArray[i] = sendMsg.packet[i]; 

ESP8266 Wifi / Websocket Setup

Details for setting up ESP8266 wifi can be found here.

ESP8266 Websocket library is added by including headers, defining server IP address / port / path and creating a WebSocketsClient class instance.

#include <WebSocketsClient.h>

WebSocketsClient webSocket;

const char* ws_server = "";
const uint16_t ws_port = 6789;
const char* ws_path = "/";

In setup WebSocket library is initialised –

void setup() {

    // server address, port and URL
    webSocket.begin(ws_server, ws_port, ws_path);
    // event handler
    // use HTTP Basic Authorization (optional)
    //webSocket.setAuthorization("user", "Password");
    // try again if connection has failed

WebSocket – Message Receive

Event of type “WStype_BIN” defines handling when a binary format message is received, size is reported and hexdump() displays message contents –

void webSocketEvent(WStype_t type, uint8_t * payload, size_t length) {

  switch(type) {
    case WStype_BIN:
      Serial.printf("[WSc] get binary length: %u\n", length);
      hexdump(payload, length);

In setServoPosition() received byte array is de-serialised into message data structure. Angle field is used to update servo and potentiometer position.

void setServoPosition(uint8_t * byteArray)

  int angle = (int);

  counter = map(angle, 0, 180, -90, 90); // update rotary encoder

WebSocket – Message Send

Servo position is reported by populating sendMsg data structure, converting to byte array and calling webSocket.sendBIN() passing a pointer payload data and size.

// send servo position to Websocket server
void sendServoPosition()
{ = CMD_SERVO_ANGLE; = angle;

  // write message to buffer
  webSocket.sendBIN(byteArray, PACKET_SIZE);

Server Side – Python WebSocket (WS) Library

A simple WebSocket server implemented in Python v3x is tasked with text / binary message exchange, tracking connected clients and maintaining shared application state.

WebSocket server event loop is started by passing function/method name, IP address and port –

start_server = websockets.serve(wsApi, "", 6789)

In event loop new clients are registered. Clients can be identified by checking protocol headers –

async def wsApi(websocket, path):
    # register(websocket) sends user_event() to websocket
    await register(websocket)

async def register(websocket):
    await notify_users()

### debug output
Connection: Upgrade
Upgrade: websocket
Sec-WebSocket-Version: 13
Sec-WebSocket-Key: LnOM1uj7n3gE4cFGqJ1yFg==
Sec-WebSocket-Protocol: arduino
Origin: file://
User-Agent: arduino-WebSocket-Client

Received message and headers are printed and handling is defined for binary (byte array) format messages.

### <class 'bytes'>
### b'\x0c\x00\x00\x00@\x00\x00\x00'
### (12, 64)

Python struct library allows packed binary bytes representing C structs to be unpacked as native python data types.

Format specifier “Ii” represents a message containing an int and unsigned int.

        async for message in websocket:
            print('Sec-WebSocket-Key: '+websocket.request_headers['Sec-WebSocket-Key'])
            print('MessageType: '+str(type(message)))
            if isinstance(message, (bytes, bytearray)):

                tuple_of_data = struct.unpack("Ii", message)
                cmd = tuple_of_data[0]
                value = tuple_of_data[1]
                STATE["value"] = value
                await notify_state()
    except Exception as e:
        await unregister(websocket)

Connected WebSocket clients are push notified (synchronised) when position data (state) is updated –

async def notify_state():
    if USERS: 
        binary_data = struct.pack("Ii", 12, STATE['value'])
        await asyncio.wait([user.send(binary_data) for user in USERS])

WebSocket Browser Client – Binary Messaging in JavaScript

Web Interface is responsive and runs in mobile and web browser clients.

A radial D3.js radial gauge displays current angle. HTML5 buttons (divs) and slider control allow position to be updated.

Web / Mobile Interface provisioned by WebSocket (RFC6455)

JavaScript WebSocket onmessage function handles decoding of binary framed data.

A FileReader object is used to convert Blob to ByteArray in an asynchronous function, with flow control provided by a promise (future). TypedArray Uint8Array is used to extract 4 byte int and unsigned int command and value data fields –

websocket.onmessage = function (event) {
    if ( instanceof Blob)  // Binary Frame
      async function readBinaryData(blob) {
          let promise = new Promise((res, rej) => {

            var fileReader = new FileReader();
            fileReader.onload = function(event) {
                var arrayBuffer =;

          // wait until the promise returns us a value
          let arrayBuffer = await promise;

          var v = new Uint8Array(arrayBuffer);
          // v[0] = cmd, v[4] = value
          //console.log(v[0] + " " + v[4]);

          // update UI elements
          value.textContent = v[4];
          angleSlider.value = v[4];
          gauges.forEach(function(g) {



WebSockets offer significant advantages over HTTP request/response polling techniques for real time data exchange, principally overhead of opening connection should occur only once per client.

Message push notify model, lightweight protocol framing, client libraries for embedded devices and native support in modern web browsers make this protocol well suited to real time Internet of Things data message exchange.

While underlying TCP provides message ordering and re-transmission (of failed packets), higher level application abstractions: guaranteed message delivery (at least once, at most once), message acknowledgements and queue / persist / forward (to offline clients) are not specified by WebSocket specification.

Similarly, TLS SSL can be used at network layer to encrypt data transmission (WebSocket Secure WSS), but client authentication / authorisation is not handled by WebSocket protocol, meaning a strategy for token or key based client identification (OAuth for example) must be considered for secure use cases.

Event driven implementations supporting asynchronous non-blocking IO result in efficient, well structured and modular code with handlers dedicated to specific tasks.

Factors influencing choice between binary framing and text format messages (field delimeted, JSON) include legibility, convenience, compactness and parsing overhead. Binary format introduces complexity due to differences in compiler / platform / network architectures and data type implementations between programming languages.

Full Source Code on GitHub –

Web UI –

Python WebSocket Server –

ESP8266 WebSocket MicroServo Sketch –

arduino Coding Internet of Things nodejs Python Software

MQTT to Websockets with ESP32, NodeJS and D3.js

MQTT is a lightweight messaging protocol suitable for embedded and IOT devices.

Websockets ( RFC6455 – ) is socket programming for internet, an evolution of browser / web server HTTP enabling real-time bidirectional data exchange and binary messaging.

How do we interface a MQTT enabled IOT sensor device with a web browser interface displaying a real time graph chart?

A real time web based barometric air pressure chart interface created with WebSockets and D3.js

Introduction to WebSockets – Real Time TCP Sockets for Internet

With modern browser engines and responsive web UI technologies built on HTML5, SVG and JavaScript frameworks, sophisticated visualisation, display and dashboard reporting capabilities have emerged.

Responsive Web UI runs in any browser installed device – laptop, dekstop, tablet or mobile, without need to install additional software or prepare application code for specific device architectures.

HTTP browser clients essentially implement a polling request/response technique for retrieving and updating HTML format webpages.

Due to need to establish a connection for each new request, HTTP is not well suited to real time or high volume messaging, charting or visualisation applications.

Although AJAX (asynchronous JavaScipt XML) and REST, SOAP API programming overcome this to a certain extent these methods are relatively inefficient for some use cases due to protocol overhead.

With Websockets, TCP network socket programming becomes possible in a browser client application.

Clients can establish a network socket connection, this channel remains open and two-way data exchange including binary messaging formats takes place.

Sockets are well established in UNIX and Windows OS client/server programming, but are relatively new to the web.

Arduino ESP32 Barometer Sensor MQTT Device

An ESP32 microcontroller with BMP280 environmental sensor and OLED LCD display

An environmental sensor based on an Expressif ESP32 micro-controller and BMP280 Bosch sensor reads air pressure, temperature and altitude –

#include <Adafruit_BMP280.h>

Adafruit_BMP280 bmp;

void setup() {

  if (!bmp.begin()) {
    Serial.println(F("Could not find a valid BMP280 sensor, check wiring!"));
    while (1);
  /* Default settings from datasheet. */
  bmp.setSampling(Adafruit_BMP280::MODE_NORMAL,     /* Operating Mode. */
                  Adafruit_BMP280::SAMPLING_X2,     /* Temp. oversampling */
                  Adafruit_BMP280::SAMPLING_X16,    /* Pressure oversampling */
                  Adafruit_BMP280::FILTER_X16,      /* Filtering. */
                  Adafruit_BMP280::STANDBY_MS_500); /* Standby time. */  


void loop() {

  Serial.print(F("Temperature = "));
  Serial.println(" *C");

  Serial.print(F("Pressure = "));
  Serial.print(bmp.readPressure()/100); //displaying the Pressure in hPa, you can change the unit
  Serial.println(" hPa");

  Serial.print(F("Approx altitude = "));
  Serial.print(bmp.readAltitude(1019.66)); //The "1019.66" is the pressure(hPa) at sea level in day in your region
  Serial.println(" m");                    //If you don't know it, modify it until you get your current altitude

  float t = bmp.readTemperature();           //Read temperature in C
  float p = bmp.readPressure()/100;         //Read Pressure in Pa and conversion to hPa
  float a = bmp.readAltitude(1019.66);      //Calculating the Altitude, the "1019.66" is the pressure in (hPa) at sea level at day in your region


Data is communicated over Wifi to an MQTT messaging server.

On Arduino we can use PubSub MQTT Library ( ).

To set this up, first we define Wifi and MQTT server credentials and topic id (channels) and define a transmit data buffer:

const char* ssid = "__SSID__";
const char* pass = "__PASS__";

IPAddress mqtt_server(192, 168, 1, 127); // local LAN Address
const char* mqtt_user = "mqtt";
const char* mqtt_password = "__mqttpassword__";

const char* mqtt_channel_pub = "esp32.out";
const char* mqtt_channel_sub = "";

WiFiClient wifi;
PubSubClient mqtt(wifi);

#define MSG_BUFFER_SIZE (128)
char msg[MSG_BUFFER_SIZE];

Then we setup Wifi connection:

  WiFi.begin(ssid, password);

  while (WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED) {

  Serial.println("WiFi connected");
  Serial.print("Connecting to ");
  Serial.println("IP address: ");

And attempt to connect to MQTT broker, sending a hello message:

void loop() {
  while (!mqtt.connected()) {
    Serial.print("Attempting MQTT connection...");
    // Create a random client ID
    String clientId = "ESP8266Client-";
    clientId += String(random(0xffff), HEX);
    // Attempt to connect
    if (mqtt.connect(clientId.c_str(), mqtt_user, mqtt_password)) {
      // Once connected, publish an announcement...
      mqtt.publish(mqtt_channel_pub, "hello ESP32");
      // ... and resubscribe
    } else {
      Serial.print("failed, rc=");
      Serial.println(" try again in 5 seconds");
      // Wait 5 seconds before retrying


After reading, we can transmit sensor values (Temperature T, Pressure P, Altitude A) on ESP32:

  snprintf(msg, MSG_BUFFER_SIZE, "%.2f,%.2f,%.2f", t, p, a);

  Serial.print("Publish message: ");
  mqtt.publish(mqtt_channel_pub, msg);

MQTT to WebSocket RFC6455 – Node.JS Relay

On server we require a relay to subscribe for MQTT messages on sensor device channel, establish a WebSocket and write data to connected browser clients.

An implementation in NodeJS requires WS, MQTT and events libraries:

// setup Websocket Server
const WebSocket = require('ws');
var ws_host = "";
var ws_port = "8080";
const wss = new WebSocket.Server({ host: ws_host, port: ws_port });
var ws = null;

// Setup MQTT Client
// mqtt[s]://[username][:password]@host.domain[:port]
var mqtt = require('mqtt'), url = require('url');
var mqtt_url = url.parse(process.env.MQTT_URL || 'mqtt://');
var auth = (mqtt_url.auth || ':').split(':');
var url = "mqtt://" +;
var mqtt_channel_in = "";
var mqtt_channel_out = "esp8266.out";

var options = {
    port: mqtt_url.port,
    clientId: 'mqttjs_' + Math.random().toString(16).substr(2, 8),
    username: 'mqtt',
    password: '__mqtt_password__',
    keepalive: 60,
    reconnectPeriod: 1000,
    protocolId: 'MQIsdp',
    protocolVersion: 3,
    clean: true,
    encoding: 'utf8'

NodeJS is event based, when an MQTT message is received it can be forwarded to all connected WebSocket clients:

mqttClient.on('message', function sendMsg(topic, message, packet) {

  console.log(topic + ": " + message);

  var eventListeners = require('events').EventEmitter.listenerCount(mqttClient,'message');
  console.log(eventListeners + " Listner(s) listening to mqttClient message event");

  wss.clients.forEach(function each(ws) {
    if (ws.isAlive === false) return ws.terminate();
    ws.send(data+" ");


MQTT allows many subscribers to receive topic messages.

Python Eclipse Paho MQTT client with Mongo DB

A client based on Eclipse Paho ( ) developed in Python might add persistence by writing to a Mongo DB datastore:

### Python MQTT client
### Subscribes to an MQTT topic receiving JSON format messages in format:
###    [{"ts":1586815920,"temp":22.3,"pressure":102583,"alt":76}]
### Writes receieved JSON data to a mongo DB collection
import paho.mqtt.client as mqtt
import json
import pymongo

mqtt_server = ""
mqtt_port = 1883
mqtt_keepalive = 60
mqtt_channel_out = "esp8266.out"
mqtt_channel_in = ""

mongo_server = "mongodb://localhost:27017/"
mongo_db = "weather"
mongo_collection = "sensorData"

def on_connect(client,userdata,flags,rc):
    print("Connected with result code:"+str(rc))
    print ("MQTT server: "+mqtt_server+", port: "+str(mqtt_port));
    print ("MQTT topic: "+mqtt_channel_out);

def on_message(client, userdata, msg):
    parsed_json = (json.loads(msg.payload))
    res = sensorData.insert_one(parsed_json[0])

mongoClient = pymongo.MongoClient(mongo_server)
mydb = mongoClient[mongo_db]
sensorData = mydb[mongo_collection]

mqttClient = mqtt.Client()

mqttClient.on_connect = on_connect
mqttClient.on_message = on_message


Web Browser Client – D3.js WebSocket Real Time Chart

WebSockets are supported natively in JavaScript by modern browser clients.

Setting up a WebSocket client, we consider re-connect attempts and parse received message data (JSON format in this example):

      <script type="text/javascript">

        var dataArr = [];

        var ws = null
        var maxReconnectAttemps = 10;
        var reconnectAttempts = 0;

        // setup WebSocket
        function setupWebSocket()

          reconnectAttempts = 0;

          ws = new WebSocket('ws://',[]);

          ws.onopen = function () {
            console.log('WebSocket Open');

          ws.onerror = function (error) {
            console.log('WebSocket Error ' + error);

          ws.onmessage = function (e) {
            var rawData =;
            if(rawData.trim().length > 1 &amp;&amp; rawData.trim() != "undefined")
              try {

                var jsonObj = JSON.parse(rawData);
                jsonObj[0]['t'] = jsonObj[0]['t']; // temperature
                jsonObj[0]['p'] = jsonObj[0]['pressure']; // air pressure
                jsonObj[0]['a'] = jsonObj[0]['alt']; // altitude


              } catch(e) {
                  console.log("Invalid JSON:"+rawData.toString());

        // check connection status every 60sec, upto maxReconnectAttemps, try reconnect
        const interval = setInterval(function checkConnectStatus() {
          if (reconnectAttempts++ < maxReconnectAttemps)
            if (ws.readyState !== ws.OPEN) {
               console.log("WS connection closed - try re-connect");
        }, 60000);

        document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", function() {

Finally D3.js ( ) is used to render chart as HTML5 / SVG.

D3.js real time barometer chart with WebSocket data provisioning

Source code and documentation can be found here:

Barometer D3.js:

ESP32 wifi Arduino MQTT sensor Client:

MQTT to WebSocket NodeJS relay: