FireBeetle ESP32 Poor Wifi

Hi All,

Recently got a Firebeetle ESP32 (rev 3 board, rev 1 ESP32 silicon) from here which has really, really poor 2.4GHz wifi. Basically useless except for benchtesting.

This is my first ESP32 and I largely bought it for a play, but have decided to use it for a makeshift IR blaster to control some Luminara Candles through home automation. It all works (Openhab -> MQTT -> ESP32 -> sends IR code to candles for on/off), but I probably need to work some more on getting a stronger/broader IR signal. The showstopper problem is the Wifi strength of the ESP32.

Within 1-2 metres of the access point (Ubiquiti AP) it works ok, but RSSI is weaker than expected. As soon as I move to the other side of the room (3 metres) I start seeing packet loss, put a plaster wall in between and I can barely associate, bit further and nothing. I have 3 Raspberry Pi Zero W’s that all work solidly at same locations and distances far greater on the same bearing. Even close by the AP, moving the unit around often results in lost packets. Ubiquiti AP is showing RSSI far worse than any other device in same location.

I’m using Arduinio latest IDE.

I’ve tried:

  • simplifying the program to just wifi and outputting RSSI and pinging it. I don’t think its the code…
  • reflashing
  • erasing flash completely using esptool
  • using both the DFRobot recommended board setup/libraries and the much later/current one directly from espresif’s github.
  • the latter newer wifi library from espressif allows setting wifi tx power, so I’ve tried setting that from max, to lower power levels and they just make the performance/RSSI even worse than max power.
  • using some code I found on espressif’s forum to force an RF calibration and store it in NVS in case it was corrupted.
  • doing silly dances and waving the board around trying to find a good spot

None of this seems to have made a difference, so the question is, is the ESP32 WROOM module really that bad? Is DFRobot’s implementation just really poor? or do I have a faulty unit? I’ve found posts elsewhere complaining, but not enough to suggest it’s widespread.

Thought I’d post here to the local community to see if anyone with more experience than I has any thoughts or experienced the same. I’d be interested in trying another ESP32 board if someone can recommend one with reasonable wifi performance as there are many variations, or, another board the same if people thinks its faulty. If I can find a board that performs decently I have a range of IoT projects I want to do, and I’d prefer to focus on those than evaluating wifi performance of different devices :slight_smile:


I use a lot of ESP32 and the older ESP8266 based boards and never had issues with WiFi. Actually very much the opposite. The fact that it’s worse at max power sounds like the on board antenna might not be connected.

Do you know somebody with another ESP32 board you can test? It doesn’t have to be a Firebeetle.

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I think you might be right and thanks for confirming generally the ESP32 is good at wifi. I’ve ordered an espressif ESP32-DEVKITC-32D from amazon to compare, but I generally get the feeling there is something wrong with this particular DFRobot unit. I picked the espressif board as it has the antenna hanging over the edge of the board and I suppose the espressif one could be a kind of a reference (assuming the ones I’ve ordered is legit and not a ripoff). Either way, having more than oneo data point will help. Once I’ve gotten past this step I suppose the next will be finding a good non-dev module or small breakout to use for actual projects.

So to close the loop on this I got my espressif dev kit and it works perfectly (same code/circuit etc). wireless seems pretty solid from one end of the house to the other, which really shows how useless the firebeetle is. I can only assume its faulty.

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Unlike most of the ESP32 boards which have the antennae as part of the main PCB, the FireBeetle has a separate antennae circuit board soldered to the main board.

Check to see if the antennae is soldered properly, and isn’t detached.

Thanks Robin,

The antenna is attached to the ESP module which is in turn soldered to the board. There’s no physical signs of damage and the antenna is not broken out to the mainPCB. There is a version with an IPEX antenna connection but not this one. There’s clearly a problem with the antenna, but its on that module, probably under the RF shield. I found various reports online where people have had similar problems with these.