How to debug an ESP32S2 with an Arduino project and GDB?

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The ESP32S2 Modules are being adopted many boards, all of which can now be debugged using an External Hardware debugger, directly in Visual Studio, with vMicro!

This page applies to all ESP32S2 Modules. See these pages for the Standard ESP32, ESP32S3 via USB, and ESP32C3 via USB or ESP32C3 via JTAG.

Note Icon Note:

NOTE: If you are using ESP32 Core v2.0.1 or 2.0.2 there is an issue with the GDB.exe reported here.  Roll Back to v2.0.0 to ensure this is reliable, or use v2.0.3 onwards which have the issue resolved.


External Debug Interface: JTAG

To see a list of all debuggers currently supported within vMicro please click here.

NOTE: If using External JTAG debugging any SDCard functionality will need to be removed as this conflicts with the JTAG pin assignments.
           All boards support the vMicro Software Debugger which only requires the Serial interface to work

External Debugger Connections

To connect your JTAG debugger to the ESP32S2 / ESP32S3 board you will need to connect the below pins:

ESP32S2 / ESP32S3 JTAG Connections


Specific Probe Wiring Diagrams

Jlink Wiring Diagram

ESP-PROG Wiring Diagram

FT2232H Dual 

FT2232 Mini Module

ESP-DEVKIT Wiring Diagram

Then you will also need to connect your Debugger to the PC on one USB port, and the ESP32 on another USB Port


Software Setup

Note Icon Note:

  • This is only reliable from vMicro Version 2022.0429.02 onwards.
  • This currenly requires a Local board.txt to function at its best:
    # Most stable OpenOCD Version for newer ESP32 Boards 
    # Very Latest OpenOCD (seems less stable than the above)
    # tools.openocd.debug.path={}
    # tools.openocd.program.path={}
    # tools.openocd.upload.path={}
    # Ensure Upload Pattern contains adapter speed
    tools.openocd.program.pattern="{program.path}/{program.cmd}" {program.verbose} -s "{program.path}/share/openocd/scripts/" -f "interface/{openocddebugger}" -c "adapter_khz 5000" -f "board/{upload.openocdscript}" -c "echo -n {****[vMicro]**** Uploading App :}" -c "telnet_port disabled; program {{runtime.platform.path}/tools/partitions/boot_app0.bin} 0xe000" -c "echo -n {****[vMicro]**** Uploading Bootloader :}" -c "program {{build.path}/{build.project_name}.bootloader.bin} {build.bootloader_addr}"  -c "echo -n {****[vMicro]**** Uploading Sketch :}" -c "program {{build.path}/{build.project_name}.bin} 0x10000"  -c "echo -n {****[vMicro]**** Uploading Partitions :}" -c "program {{build.path}/{build.project_name}.partitions.bin} 0x8000 reset; shutdown"


There is also a video guide to the software and driver setup described below

Ensure you have Visual Studio and the vMicro Extension Installed

Open your Sketch and select the Debug > Hardware, and the relevant Debugger you have available

Visual Studio Toolbar Selections for ESP32

NOTE - The vMicro > Debugger > Compiler Optimization MUST be set to "No Optimization" for this board to function with the debugger

You may need to install an additional USB Driver on Interface 0 of your debugger to allow it to function with this software - check in the debugger list here

Remember - If you have installed a new driver, you may have to do it again if you connect the debugger to a different USB port next time.....


Start Debugger

  1. Ensure you have the Debug Configuration selected from the Configuration Manager Window
  2. If you know where you want the first breakpoint in your code, add it now
  3. To start the debugging process, you can either:
    • "Debug > Attach to Process" button if your code has already been uploaded to the ESP32 board
    • "Debug > Start Debugging" if your code has not been uploaded
ESP32 Debugging in vMicro and Visual Studio

Congratulations - you should have the debugger running, and further windows can be opened from the "Debug > Windows" menu once you have started debugging


There is also a video guide on this below: