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Author Topic: Help with xbee hardware  (Read 584 times)
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Hi,
I want to start playing around with wireless (in a home automation context), and am getting confused by all the different shields and boards out there.
I was going to order 2 Xbees (series 2) + regulated breakout board + basic FTDI board. (I know I could use the usb explorer instead but I have a couple arduino pro lying around so the ftdi board would be usefull)

Now my understanding is I don't absolutely need a xbee shield unless stacking into a small space is an issue right? OR would a shield replace more than just the breakout board and deal with communication part also via the arduino? (I'm using a Duemilanove)

For example, I was wondering if my initial setup is the same as using a expansion shield like this one http://www.diybin.com/products/DFRobot-Arduino-Xbee-Shield.html - which would be way cheaper!

Also, has anyone ever shopped at diybin? I'm used to browsing the well known spots but stumbled on this Miami based store. They seem to have good deals.

Thanks for your input
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 09:17:20 pm by sebuino » Logged

New River, Arizona
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So far I have six XBees running around the house and never bought a shield.  I do have several adafruit XBee adapters and in one case I wired the XBee directly to the arduino.  You CAN hook an XBee directly to the arduino by using the 3.3V supply, ground and serial pins.  I have a device running just this way because I ran out of adapters once.  To secure them to something I use two sided tape, simple and cheap.  If you want to see the various items I've got running take a lock at my blog at draythomp.blogspot.com under the XBee tab at the top.  I even stuck one to the side of a wall wart as a temperature sensor.

You DO NOT need a complicated setup to get these to work.  I do recommend that you have two ways to connect the XBees to your computer so that you can run two of them at a time.  It's much easier to set them up and get them working if you can run two at once and play with the configuration.  Also, I don't always use arduino pins 0 and 1 to communicate with the XBees.  I use newsoftserial version 10C and put the XBee on a couple of digital pins.  This way I don't have to remember to unplug it to download software to the Arduino. 
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If you are only going to have two XBees, they are not going to form a mesh network. Instead, no matter how you configure them, they are only going to talk point-to-point. You'd be much better off getting the Series 1 models which are designed for point-to-point use.
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Yeah, but since they are the same price, I'm thinking future-proof. 2 less to buy for upcoming projects i guess.

@draythomp thanks for the input. As I don't mind doing a bit of soldering and tinkering, I prefer going the cheaper route. Plus it's better for learning purposes.

Still not sure about that 14$ expansion shield though. Could I avoid buying all the other stuff with it? i.e could I program it from the shield or still need a TTL-USB?
thanks

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Here's what I did.  I bought a few of the adafruit boards https://www.adafruit.com/products/127 and then went to digikey and bought the buffer chip, power supply, capacitors and such.  I populate the board on what I plan on doing with it.  If I have 3v available, I don't need a power supply, if I'm using 3V logic I don't need the buffer.  See the trick?  In one instance I didn't need the board at all.

However, I did need a minimum of one usb adapter to the laptop and one fully populated adafruit board with FTDI cable on hand as I got into the project.  You can get by with the minimum of an arduino and a FTDI with the adafruit board because the arduino can be used to connect to the XBee.

The reason I have the USB adapter is to monitor the working XBees in action.  If I want to see what is going on, I plug in the usb adapter and just watch things happen.  If a person only has two of them watching one end perform is good enough, with more of them you'll want to see the various interactions and occasionally put something out to simulate something.
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