I started to mess around a bit more with the ESP-01 WIFI boards a couple weeks ago. I have a couple of projects in mind for using several of them around the house. As everyone else found, they’re not that easy to work with in their design. Accessing the pins is difficult without some sort of jig. I based my board on the design from over at hackster.io. But I wanted a little more than just being able to program it, I wanted to be able to keep it in the jig and access the GPIO pins as well as the serial pins.
Not exactly my best work, but it’s functional, and it fits nicely into my Mega Breadboard. It’s powered from the 5v bus that I used on the breadboard and with the voltage regulator has the ESP-01 running at 3.3v. I can easily access the GPIO and Serial pins, as well as keep the FTDI board plugged in to monitor it’s serial output through the IDE. There are pairs of pins at each corner that fit into the bus bars of the breadboard, similar to how my Arduino Pro Helper Board works.