ESP8266 SPI Spy

I came across a very useful post by Thomas Scherrer that describes how to read data from a Peacefair PZEM-021 energy meter by spying on the SPI bus with an Arduino. I decided to do the same thing with an ESP-12F WiFi module so that I could view the results remotely and plot graphs, etc. It took me a lot longer to get this working than I anticipated due to a few problems along the way.

The main hardware difference is the ESP8266 is a 3.3V device but the Arduino is 5V. The PZEM-021 is actually a mixture. The RN8208G metering chip is a 5V device. It is a SPI slave, the SPI master is an STM32 ARM processor that is 3.3V but with 5V tolerant inputs. That means the signals originating from the CPU can go straight into the ESP8266 but the data out from the RN8208G would need attenuating.

Copying Thomas, I removed the mains dropper components C1 and R1 and powered the PZEM-021 from an external supply. This allows it to measure voltages right down to zero instead of cutting out at 80V. I used this little 12V 1A supply recommended by Big Clive on YouTube.”