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ESP-WIFI-MESH Development Framework [中文]

Documentation Status

ESP-MDF, or Espressif Mesh Development Framework, is a development framework for ESP-WIFI-MESH, a networking protocol built on top of the Wi-Fi protocol. ESP-MDF is based on the ESP32 chip.

Matters need attention

  1. This version of MDF is based on the IDF master branch and is not recommended for product development. If you need a stable version of MDF, please use branch release/v1.0.
  2. ESP-MDF master branch already supports ESP32S2, but some example can not build and run on ESP32S2 now. We will support these in the future. They are:
    • function_demo/mconfig
    • development_kit/buddy
    • development_kit/button
    • development_kit/light
    • development_kit/sense
    • wireless_debug


ESP-MDF is based on the ESP-WIFI-MESH protocol stack to facilitate your development of ESP-WIFI-MESH. ESP-MDF provides the following features:

  • Fast network configuration: In addition to manual configuration with the network configuration apps, such as ESP-WIFI-MESH App or similar third-party apps, ESP-MDF offers a chained way of network configuration, during which devices autonomously and quickly establish a network, and form a greater coverage area.

  • Stable upgrade: The upgrading process has become more efficient with such features as automatic retransmission of failed fragments, data compression, reverting to an earlier version, firmware check, etc.

  • Efficient debugging: Various debugging approaches are supported, such as wireless transmission of logs and wireless debugging, debugging through a command terminal, etc.

  • LAN control: Network can be controlled by an app, sensor, etc.

  • Various application demos: It offers comprehensive solutions based on ESP-WIFI-MESH in the areas of lighting, etc.


ESP-MDF consists of Utils, Components and Examples (see the below figure). Utils is the encapsulation and third-party library of ESP-IDF APIs. Components are the ESP-MDF functional modules that use Utils APIs. Examples are the ESP-WIFI-MESH solutions based on the Components.

  • Utils

    • Third Party: the third-party items
      • Driver: drivers for different devices, such as frequently used buttons and LEDs
      • Miniz: lossless, high performance data compression library
      • Aliyun: Aliyun IoT kit
    • Transmission: the way of data transmission between devices
      • Mwifi: adds to ESP-WIFI-MESH the retransmission filter, data compression, fragmented transmission, and P2P multicast features
      • Mespnow: adds to ESP-NOW the retransmission filter, Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC), and data fragmentation features
    • Mcommon: modules shared by all ESP-MDF components
      • Event loop: deals with ESP-MDF events
      • Error Check: manages ESP-MDF's code errors
      • Memory Management: Memory Management for ESP-MDF
      • Information Storage: Store configuration information in flash
  • Components:

  • Examples:

    • Function demo: Example of use of each function module
      • Mwifi Example: An example of common networking methods: no router, no router. First develop based on this example, then add distribution, upgrade, wireless test and other functions based on it.
      • Mupgrade Example: Upgrade example of the device
      • Mconfig Example: Example of network configuration of the device
      • Mcommon Examples: Common Module Example, Event Processing Memory Management Example of Using Information Store
    • Debug: Performance Testing and Debugging Tools
      • Console Test: Test the ESP-WIFI-MESH throughput, network configuration, and packet delay by entering commands through the serial port.
      • Wireless Debug: ESP-MDF debugging via wireless
      • Development Kit: ESP32-MeshKit usage example for research and understanding of ESP-WIFI-MESH
      • ESP32-MeshKit-Light: Smart lighting solution with ESP-WIFI-MESH functioning as the master network. The kit consists of light bulbs with integrated ESP32 chips. Support BLE + ESP-MDF for BLE gateway, ibeacon and BLE scanning
      • ESP32-MeshKit-Sense: Development board, specifically designed for applications where ESP-WIFI-MESH is in Light-sleep or Deep-sleep mode. The board provides solutions for:
        • Monitoring the power consumption of MeshKit peripherals
        • Controlling MeshKit peripherals based on the data from multiple onboard sensors.
      • ESP32-MeshKit-Button: Smart button solution, tailored for ESP-WIFI-MESH applications with ultra-low power consumption. The device wakes up only for a short time when the buttons are pressed and transmits packets to ESP-WIFI-MESH devices via ESP-NOW.
      • Cloud Platform: ESP-MDF docking cloud platform
      • Aliyun Linkkit: Example of ESP-MDF access to Alibaba Cloud platform
      • AWS: ESP-MDF Access AWS Platform Example ## Develop with ESP-MDF

You first need to read ESP-WIFI-MESH Communication Protocol and ESP-MDF Programming Guide and research and learn about ESP-WIFI-MESH through the ESP32-MeshKit development kit. Secondly, based on Function demo for your project development, when you can encounter problems in development, you can first go to BBS and Issues to find out if a similar problem already exists. If there is no similar problem, you can also ask directly on the website.

Development Boards

ESP32-MeshKit Development board

ESP32-MeshKit offers a complete ESP-WIFI-MESH Lighting Solution (see the below figure), complemented by ESP-Mesh App (iOS version and Android) for research, development and better understanding of ESP-WIFI-MESH.

ESP32-MeshKit Light

ESP32-MeshKit Sense

  • Products:

    • ESP32-MeshKit-Light: The RGBCW smart lights that show control results visually. They can be used to test network configuration time, response speed, stability performance, and measure distance, etc.
    • ESP32-MeshKit-Sense: This kit is equipped with a light sensor as well as a temperature & humidity sensor. It can measure power consumption and develop low power applications. The kit may also be used with ESP-Prog for firmware downloading and debugging.
    • ESP32-MeshKit-Button: Serves as an on/off controller, ready for the development of low power applications. It can be used with ESP-Prog for firmware downloading and debugging.

ESP32-Buddy Development board

ESP32-Buddy is a development board specifically designed to test the development of ESP-WIFI-MESH. With its small size and USB power input, the board can be conveniently used for testing a large number of devices and measure distances between them.

  • Functions:
    • 16 MB flash: stores logs
    • OLED screen: displays information about the device, such as its layer, connection status, etc.
    • LED: indicates the board's status
    • Temperature & humidity sensor: collects environmental parameters

Quick Start

This section provides the steps for quick start with your development of ESP-MDF applications. For more details, please refer to ESP-IDF Get Started.

The directory

will be used further to install the compiling toolchain, ESP-MDF and demo programs. You can use another directory, but make sure to modify the commands accordingly.
  1. Setup Toolchain: please set up according to your PC's operating system (Windows, Linux or Mac OS). If you use linux, you can use this commands.

    git clone -b v4.3.1 --recursive
    cd ~/esp/esp-idf
    . ./
  2. Get ESP-MDF:

    git clone --recursive

    If you clone without the

    option, please navigate to the esp-mdf directory and run the command
    git submodule update --init
  3. Set up ESP-MDF Path: Toolchain uses the environment variable

    to access ESP-MDF. The setup of this variable is similar to that of the variable
    . Please refer to
    Add IDF_PATH & PATH to User Profile
    . If you use linux, you can use this commands.
    cd ~/esp/esp-mdf
    export MDF_PATH=~/esp/esp-mdf
  4. Start a Project: The word project refers to the communication example between two ESP-WIFI-MESH devices.

    cp -r $MDF_PATH/examples/get-started/ .
    cd  get-started/
  5. Build and Flash: For the rest, just keep the default configuration untouched. menuconfig -p [port] -b [baudrate] erase_flash flash
  6. Monitor/Debugging: If you want to exit the monitor, please use the shortcut key

    . monitor
  7. Update ESP-MDF:

    cd ~/esp/esp-mdf
    git pull
    git submodule update --init --recursive

ESP-WIFI-MESH Highlights

  • Easy setup: ESP-WIFI-MESH expands the original Wi-Fi hotspot range to the reach of the most distant node in the mesh cloud. Such a network is automatically formed, self-healing and self-organizing. It saves the efforts of laying cables. All you need to do is configure the router password.

  • Gateway free: The decentralized structure of ESP-WIFI-MESH with the absence of a gateway precludes the overall network breakdown if one single node fails. Even if there is a single ESP-WIFI-MESH device, the network still works as usual.

  • Safer transmission: Both the data link layer and the application layer can be encrypted.

  • More reliable transmission: The transmission and data flow control between two devices are more reliable. Also, unicast, multicast and broadcast transmissions are supported.

  • Large network capacity: ESP-WIFI-MESH takes the form of a tree topology, so one single device can connect to 10 devices at maximum, and an entire network can have over 1,000 nodes.

  • Wider transmission coverage: The transmission distance between two devices is 30 m through walls, and 200 m without any obstacles in between (relevant to ESP32-DevKitC).

    • Smart Home: Even if there are only three to five devices in your home, they can form a network and communicate with one another through walls.
    • Street light: If ESP-WIFI-MESH is used for the street lighting scenario, two long-distance devices can communicate with each other.
  • High transmission speed: For Wi-Fi transmission, the speed can reach up to 10 Mbps.

    • Environment Control System: Directly transfers the raw data collected by sensors and analyzes mass data for calibration of algorithms, thereby improving sensors' accuracy.
    • Background Music System: Both audio and video transmissions are supported.
  • Simultaneously run Wi-Fi and BLE protocol stacks: ESP32 chips can run both Wi-Fi and BLE protocol stacks side by side and use ESP-WIFI-MESH as the main network to transmit data, receive BLE probe beacon, send BLE broadcasts and connect BLE devices.

    • Items tracing: Monitors the BLE or Wi-Fi data packets from a device at multiple selected spots.
    • Pedestrian counting: Through monitoring Wi-Fi probe request frames.
    • Indoor positioning: Each device functions as a Beacon AP, continuously sending Bluetooth signal to the surroundings. The network can analyze a device's signal intensity and calculate its current position.
    • Product promotion: Sends real-time product information and promotions through iBeacon.
    • Bluetooth gateway: With each device serving as a Bluetooth gateway, traditional Bluetooth devices can also be connected to an ESP-WIFI-MESH network.

Related Documentation

  • For ESP-MDF related documents, please go to ESP-MDF Programming Guide.
  • ESP-WIFI-MESH is the basic wireless communication protocol for ESP-MDF.
  • ESP-IDF Programming Guide describes Espressif's IoT development framework.
  • To report a bug or request a function, please go to Issues on GitHub to submit them. Before submitting an issue, please check if it has already been covered.
  • If you want to contribute ESP-MDF related codes, please refer to Code Contribution Guide.
  • To visit ESP32 official forum, please go to ESP32 BBS.
  • For the hardware documents related to ESP32-MeshKit, please visit Espressif Website.
  • ESP32-MeshKit-Light purchase link: Taobao.
  • ESP32-Buddy purchase link: Coming soon.

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