Non-Xbee Zigbee modules and the Arduino

I have been looking at lower-cost alternatives to the XBee ($$$) for Zigbee communications.

Have come about quite a few modules based on TI's CC25XX (e.g. CC2530256) ZigBeee modules with UART interfaces, etc...

Question is: has anyone had a stab at getting these or other ZigBee modules other than the (IMHO) overpriced XBees to work/communicate with the Arduino?

We're talking like 1/3 the price here.

Thanks!

Augusto

These are pretty new but look very useful and seem cheaper then the Xbees, but maybe not by a 1/3. They seem to be able to be setup to even be able to upload a sketch from the IDE wirelessly. They only work in pairs, so you can't build a multi device network like you can with the Xbees (is that like a swarm of bees?)

http://www.pololu.com/catalog/category/110

Lefty

Have come about quite a few modules based on TI's CC25XX (e.g. CC2530256) ZigBeee modules with UART interfaces, etc...

I suppose you could search the forum for success stories on using these modules. Then, buy them if you find anyone successfully using them.

Otherwise, the XBees are proven, easy to use technology, with error handling, retransmission, etc. built in.

Thanks,

These seem interesting - all in, may not be very far from 1/3 the price -> 20 USD/each. That is half the price of a MaxStream module, to which the shield price needs to be added.

Pity I'm getting no response re. the TI ZigBees.

As for only working in pairs, they can work in configuration of MORE THAN a pair - but the radio only provides the transport layer, so I guess I'd have to code up from there (collision detection etc... for multiple radios).

retrolefty: These are pretty new but look very useful and seem cheaper then the Xbees, but maybe not by a 1/3. They seem to be able to be setup to even be able to upload a sketch from the IDE wirelessly. They only work in pairs, so you can't build a multi device network like you can with the Xbees (is that like a swarm of bees?)

http://www.pololu.com/catalog/category/110

Lefty

Sorry, I can't answer the 1/3 price, but I have been VERY happy with Synapse Wireless RF Engines. Specifically the RF200. They claim a 3 mile LOS Range. Less without LOS. Currently they are $26.66 http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/technologies/semiconductors/wireless-rf/rf-modules-solutions/802154-zigbee/Pages/6469811-RF200PD1.aspx

The pin pitch is 2mm so you will need a PCB to put them on. I make some PCBs and sell them assembled for around $13. I will sell BARE PCBs for $5. Breakout Board:

I also make a board that include some basic features that help out with basic tasks. Such as an RTC, Temp Sensor, EEProm, Voltage Regulation. SNARF-BASE v03i5: (Pictured is an older revision SNARF-BASE v03h2)

Within the next month, Synapse Wireless will release a surface mount version of the RF200 called the SM200. It will sell for $14. http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/Technologies/Product.aspx?ProductID=SM200P81SYNAPSEWIRELESSINC6005332

I need to take pictures of the newer boards that have a higher quality of assembly. Here is a board that is meant as an "Addon" or "stacking board" for the SNARF-BASE. It uses an ATMega32u4 and logs to a microSD Card.

Synapse Wireless runs their own software on the chips. They call it SNAP OS and is programmed with SNAPpy. A stripped down version of python. All of the modules are programmable over the air. Also each module has its own MCU. This has allowed me to replace many arduino/xbee combination with just a RF200 and a Breakout Board. (the first image) The RF200 and SM200 use an ATMega128RFA1 as the MCU.

The point of my post in not to get you to buy stuff from me. I release ALL of my design as open source in eagle format. So, If you want to buy boards from me, then go ahead. If not, feel free to take my designs and modify as you see fit.

DISCLAIMER I do not work for Synapse Wireless, I am just a happy customer. I also strongly believe they have a better product than the XBee and wish more people would use them.

BOB Eagle files: http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/SynapseWireless-BOB/production/SynapseWireless-BOB-v12i.brd http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/SynapseWireless-BOB/production/SynapseWireless-BOB-v12i.sch

SNARF-BASE files: http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/SNAPRF-Base/production/SNARFBASE-v03i5.brd http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/SNAPRF-Base/production/SNARFBASE-v03i5.sch

ATMega32u4 addon with microSD socket: http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/WS-Shields/production/AtMEGA32u4-uSD-AddON-v01a.brd http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/WS-Shields/production/AtMEGA32u4-uSD-AddON-v01a.sch

Designs not finished, but work for me: RFEngine (Generic term for FR100, RF200, RF300) Shield for Arduino. Only safe for a 3.3 volt arduino: http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/Syn-ArduinoShield/pruduction/ArduinoShield-RFEngine-LLC-v00.brd http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/Syn-ArduinoShield/pruduction/ArduinoShield-RFEngine-LLC-v00.sch

Also and Xbee->RFEngine adapter: http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/XbeeAdapter/xbeeRFsocket-v01.brd http://jctc-electronics.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/Synapse/XbeeAdapter/xbeeRFsocket-v01.sch

Again, All eagle design files are released under CC BY-SA. If you ask, I will most likely relax the BY-SA part of the license.

So what makes Synapse Wireless SNAP OS so much more powerful than an XBee radio by itself? The RF Engines are programmable. They have two UARTs (except the RF300). If you are going to start, I would recommend starting with the RF200, or design a board around the SM200 when release. The RF Engines can do RPC calls to each other, to Portal, or to SNAP connect. This adds a lot of power to the SNAP Network. There is no need for a coordinator like in an XBee network. The mesh is auto forming. If nothing else, Please check out Synapse Wireless. In order to be honest, there are TWO Major things that bother me, but these are relatively minor compared to the limitations of XBee and other technologies.

The first limitation is they are only distributed through Future Electronics. The second limitation is the SNAPpy on the radios is limited to 16 bit signed integers. (32767 to -32767) These are work arounds, but that one gets me a lot.