I've always dreamed of being able to program and debug my robots free of cables and was quite excited when Ladyada and Tom Igoe (author of "Making things talk") released tutorials on how to do this using the Xbee series 1 modules teamed up with my favorite uC board/IDE, of course, the Arduino! Well my personal fav hardware is the SB Freeduino to be exact :)
So after a bunch of reading, configuring of Series 1 Xbees with chip antennas, and a bit of hardware modding to the Xbee shield I was able to successfully program the Freeduino wirelessly. I was quite happy! Then came the range testing, I fully expected to get some wicked range with them since I had heard great things about xbees, but sadly in an indoor environment I was only able to achieve approx. 30ft. Keep in mind that this is at the speed of 57600 baud which the Freeduino's (Duemilanove based) bootloader communicates at. In retrospect I was really happy to find out that wirelessly programming Arduinos could be done but at the same time I was kinda sad that the range wasn't near what I expected.
Fast forward about a year later and some people have figured out how to program even the UNO wirelessly, which has the Optiboot bootloader that talks at a baud rate twice as fast as the Duemilanove bootloader->115200. Some of the products that have achieved this are DFrobot's Wireless Programming Module for Arduino which claim's 16.4ft. of range. The Pololu wixels claim 50ft.. I'm sure the Xbees could go farther but I have yet to run across anyone who has successfully done this with series 1,2, or 2.5 xbees. So the range still leaves much to be desired when trying to wirelessly program the current version of the Arduino.
Well, that is until this past week :grin:. With the hardware pictured above, I was able to successfully program an Arduino UNO with a 2kB file from indoors to a parkbench outside that was located 250ft. away. This was with no hardware mods, a few quick minutes of python script uploading, and without leaving the comfort of my workstation! I was able to do this with Synapse Wireless's RF100 RF engines with PCB antennas. I'm guessing I probably would have achieved even greater results with the SMA antenna version but I wanted to test with the base units. These RF engines are over-the-air configurable 802.15.4 RF Network nodes that can also be setup to do transparent serial communication at 115200. Now Synapse claims an indoor transmission range of 1000ft. and Line of sight outdoor range of 3miles but even though I didn't quite see those kind of results I was getting approx. 5 times the range of the next competing RF modules. Now, J.C. Woltz has been on these forums in the past talking about the huge benefits of the Synapse RF nodes, and I'm here to confirm that, yes, they do pack a mean punch :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:!