I'm currently working on a project with the ESP8266 and Arduino Nano, and when I power the device via USB they talk to each other via SoftwareSerial just fine. I use the Arduino IDE Serial Monitor to monitor this communication. But when I power it with a 15 V wall wart to Vin it returns mostly garbage, again I can tell this with the Arduino IDE Serial Monitor (I know I shouldn't connect two power supplies at a time). When powered over 5 V USB everything is great. Why would I have a problem only when connected to an external power supply?