Overview - XBee Tutorial

From :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zigbee

The technology defined by the ZigBee specification is intended to be simpler and less expensive than other WPANs, such as Bluetooth. ZigBee is targeted at radio-frequency (RF) applications that require a low data rate, long battery life, and secure networking.

ZigBee is a low-cost, low-power,
wireless mesh networking proprietary standard. The low cost allows the technology to be widely deployed in wireless control and monitoring applications, the low power-usage allows longer life with smaller batteries, and the mesh networking provides high reliability and larger range.

[ Foreword ]
Xbee can be used for wireless communication with low power consumption.    A 3.6V 600mA Lithium battery may last 6 - 12 months for powering up an Xbee while the wireless range can up to 1 mile.    It talks with well known UART interface and makes it easy to use.     It is simple and straight forward if you only use 2 Xbee for communication.    People use this for their own electronics projects for wireless communication.    Arduino plus Xbee is a very popular combination for electronics projects.

In this tutorial , I'll show you the most basic way to make a Xbee network communication happen which is only consist two Xbee.    You will be able to use Xbee in your robot control / monitor project.

Xbee is the module using Zigbee protocol.    Zigbee is a wireless communication protocol like wifi and bluetooth.    
ZigBee defines a network layer above the 802.15.4 layers to support advanced mesh routing capabilities.

It is simple to make XBee talk to another XBee( P2P , use 802.15.4) , however , it is not an easy job to setup a Zigbee Network.    This tutorial will also demonstrate a simple way to make it happen.

When you are trying to touch and play Xbee in the first time , you may notice that it is not just like plug and play.      The datasheet has totally 69 pages , and the content does not show you how to make it work right away.

Also , when you try to update the firmware , you may have a lot of questions in your mind about :  Which modem and function set is the one that I need?   

You may found after upgrading the firmware , the XBee looks like transforming into a "Brick" from USD$25.0 (or
USD$55.0 if you're using the Pro ver.).

After succeeding in updating the firmware , how do I configure these tons of setting so the Xbee will start communicating?

This tutorial will show you the tips and shortcuts about how to make Xbee Net Work !

[ The Scope Of This Website ]

[ Configure XBee with X-CTU ]
Digi International write a software X-CTU for configuring XBee.    With X-CTU , it is simple and easy to update the firmware and modify the parameters.    Before you can do that , you will need an USB adapter for XBee.     After the right setting , the XBee will work for you and your projects.    The basic tutorials of XBee configuration for both P2P(802.15.4) and Network(Coordinator and Router) will be covered in here.

[ PC Talk To XBee ]
Sometimes , you wanna your PC be able to communicate with other electronics device , such as Arduino , an Embedded Sytem in your home , or other electronics projects , wirelessly.     In this time , XBee is one the best choice , and you'll need an USB adapter for this purpose.

X-CTU is a very good tool for updating firmware and parameters ,  however , it can not perform this task.    For doing this , you will need :
  1. Windows Serial Port Programming
  2. An USB Adapter for PC to connect to XBee
In my case , the USB Adapter has a FTDI chip : "FTDI FT232RL".     It will create a Virtual COM Port(VCP) in your PC , such that you can write a simple program which can talk to this Virtual COM Port.     The tutorial of Windows Serial Port Programming is here.     Then , this VCP driver will talk to your XBee through USB Port and the FTDI chip.     In this case , you can use your PC to collect and store the data from your electronics project , or control / monitor them , wirelessly.

[ Web Server For Electronics Project ]

Further more , if you make your own Customized Web Server , a simple one of course , then you can access (monitor and control) your personal electronics project from Internet.
The tutorial of Making Your Own Web Server is here.


[ Application ] Not only just on and off , XBee can communicate wirelessly.    This is an example of using XBee to communicate between PC and a microcontroller(Arduino).      So , the XBee can transfer input data from a microcontroller to PC.    Tell PC "Hey , Buddy!   Something is happening here!   What should I do?".     So the PC got input data and found it is too dark and the vehicle hit the wall.     Then , PC commands Arduino through XBee "Don't Panic and stay cool.     Just turn on your flashlight.    Then go backward and make a right turn!".

[ A Friendly Reminder ]
This website may contain error messages and personal opinions.    Be aware that all the information here are just for viewer's references.

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bdragong@gmail.com