I recently purchased an ESP32-CAM but have had no luck in programming the board or getting any response whatsoever. I first tried to program it using the an FTDI programmer and the Arduino IDE (following the steps from this tutorial: https://randomnerdtutorials.com/esp32-cam-video-streaming-face-recognition-arduino-ide/).

I used this exact wiring diagram: wiring diagram but got the Timed out waiting for packet header error message. This was with the jumper on the FTDI on the 3.3V section.

Other things I've tried: -Moving jumper to 5V, powering ESP from 5V pin -Powering ESP from external 5V source (Arduino pin) -Powering ESP from external 3.3V source -Switching computers (Linux and Windows) -Programming board directly from Arduino (bypassing FTDI) -Various combinations of pressing/holding reset button during flash process

The other thing is that there is no LEDs that turn on when the board is powered. I couldn't find a concrete reference online that said an LED turns on when the device is on, but I assume the one LED would at least flash or something. Also monitoring the serial output with putty during boot did not yield any output. I'm all out of ideas and I am just starting to suspect that the board is completely dead. Any ideas would be appreciated, thank you.

  • 1
    the FTDI can't supply enough current for the ESP32 from the 3.3 V pin
    – Juraj
    Dec 2, 2019 at 9:09
  • @Juraj was right, connecting 5V to VCC worked! Seems like the diagram above is wrong then because the pin labelled 3.3V on the ESPCAM32 is just an output pin. The only issue I have having now is that my board is extremely hot when doing it this way, too hot to touch in most parts. Is this due to this connection or a different issue Dec 3, 2019 at 2:03
  • so I was not right. in the schematic Vcc pin is connected to both 5 V and 3.3 V. is there some jumper next to the Vcc pin, which I can't see on photos? use 5 V pin to power the board over voltage regulator. schematics from Adriano's link github.com/SeeedDocument/forum_doc/blob/master/reg/…
    – Juraj
    Dec 3, 2019 at 18:51
  • there are solder bridges labeled 3.3 V and 5 V next to Vcc pin
    – Juraj
    Dec 3, 2019 at 19:01
  • Yes I was going to say VCC has a bridge to 3.3V and 5V so it is likely an additional output based on the input power. I am still having issues with this chip, I was able to upload the one time by connecting 5V from FTDI to VCC on ESP. Now that is no longer working and it seems like the device is trying to boot but failing (I can see jumbled up output on a serial output when it tries to boot). Dec 4, 2019 at 5:10

1 Answer 1


You're right. There is no LED when you power up your ESP32 cam. So this is normal.

Try to power it with the 5V, so you can power it from your USB instead of the 3.3V regulator of your FTDI. The ESP just need 50mA when in programming mode, so it should not be a problem for your FTDI.

Do you see anything on your serial output? Once you connect it in this way, you should set the baudrate to 115200 on your serial terminal and see some characters.

Then, try to program it. Once you see the output "...___...", press the reset button! Since you are just connecting RDX and TDX, you have to manually press "RESET" on your ESP32 module.

At this point the ESP will reset and enter in the programming mode.

  • io 0 is wired to ground on the picture, so any reset or power-up will put the esp32 in flashing mode forever. no need to wait for ...___...
    – Juraj
    Dec 2, 2019 at 14:31
  • @Juraj: if he get the "Timed out waiting for packet header error message", the ESP is not in flashing mode or the RX/TX are inverted. If he get some characters on the FTDI, then the RX/TX are connected in the right way and the ESP is not in flashing mode. I can't see any other reason why it should not be able to connect.
    – Adriano
    Dec 2, 2019 at 14:54

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