I want to connect 50 ESP8266 in AP-Mode

I 'm involved in a brasilian percussion band (batucada), and try to light our drums.
We have to connect up to 50 nodes, without wire, without 4g or 5g (not garanteed).
I tried first with 3 nodes with this setting:

  • ESP8266 - NodeMCU LolinV3 flashed with WLED_0.14.0-b1_ESP8266.bin
  • WS2812B
  • 5V power bank

1 ESP is set in AP-MODE (called WLED-AP1)
the others connect to WLED-AP1
1 only set led config to 60 leds by strip and allow send to every checkbox in the main ESP.

Everything goes well with 3.

So I bought 10 more sets.

And it don’t work well, it looks like WLED-AP1 can’t handle with more than 4 units.

I need help to configure everything. I’m sure it’s not an hardware issue, more my lack of knowledge. I searched in a lot of youtube, forums, but I couldn’t find similar projects.

Thanks in advance (ps English is not my language, thanks to explain like I’m a kid)

The 8266 is not very powerful. I’m doubting a single one can broadcast to many individual IP’s simultaneously, although I don’t know that for a fact. I do know it can’t process nearly as many LED’s as ESP32. An ESP32 might be able to do it. You might try getting one and using that as AP1 and all your 8266’s connect to that one.

Hi Cronix,

Thanks for your answer. I checked the data sheets, and it appears that in AP mode:

  • ESP8266 can connect to max 8 users (4 by default),
  • ESP32 up to 15.

Since every node must receive the same data, therefore light the same thing, I will try to connect them in “cascade” (not sure this is an english word), meaning:

  • node A: master, AP provider
    *nodes B1, B2, B3, B4 connected (STA) to node A, and providing APs B1 to B4,
    *nodes C1 to C4 connected to B1, C5 to C8 connected to B2, …

In the wled sync config, each node would receive 1 and send 4.

If somebody ever tried this or can advice me for the setting up, I would appreciate

In my opinion, your efforts would be better spent getting a good WiFi access point and connecting them all to that. The AP doesn’t need to be connected to the internet. But WLED synchronization is done via UDP broadcasts. So you really want them all on the same network.

I agree with you, but it means that somebody have to carry a wap router with WiFi 6 and battery in a backpack. I can’t find the good device for this, and I wonder about health and waves… We need up to 3 hours… That’s why I think about WiFi 6, probably better optimization of waves and power ?

I want to try DDP also. I don’t get how it works for now…

These ESP devices only use very old 2.4GHz wifi, not wifi6 or even 5GHz.

There are really good portable routers these days that can run on a USB power bank. I have one made by TP-link that is basically the size of a deck of cards, and I’ve had it run for over 10 hours on an average USB bank. You could likely run it on the same bank as one of the WLED ESP devices. Range on them is impressive on the 2.4GHz spectrum. If I were trying to solve your issue I’d be just using one of those. Search for travel or portable routers, you’ll probably find similar ones to the TP link one I’ve used.

In fact, I did do this for a project. I didn’t have quite as many ESP devices, but I did have over 12 of them, plus a couple other devices. No outside internet, just a private wifi network so I could sync all the WLED devices. All devices on USB power banks.

Thanks, that’s exactly what I need!

By the way, do you think it’s ok to let DHCP mode, or fixed ip ? Will this setting modify the stability?

I may be late in replying, but here’s my $.02 worth. True enough, your problem is that the esp8266 can handle up to 8 clients, but it’s limited to 4 by the Arduino WiFi libraries. The best solution is a dedicated WiFi router-AP, but that does seem something of overkill. My solution has been to use 1 ESP32, or ESP8266 as a dedicated AP, using the Arduino WiFiAccessPoint.ino with the lib modified for more than 4 clients.

Here’s the code in WiFiAP.h that has to be modified:

class WiFiAPClass

// ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
// ----------------------------------------- AP function ----------------------------------------
// ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


bool softAP(const char* ssid, const char* passphrase = NULL, int channel = 1, int ssid_hidden = 0, int max_connection = 4);

Change max_connection to something else.

Hi there, how did you manage to power the ESP and the led strip both from a single power bank?


For now I have 15 esp sync with an access point handled by my phone. Each strip is one meter and 60 led long, so there is no need to add extra power.

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Is it possible for you to share the model or the mobile router/access point?

Xiaomi mi 9.

Sorry for the misunderstanding, I was talking about the mobile access point which you are able to handle 15 clients.

Many thanks in advance

Almost any mobile router should work.