Xbee and interference at Burning Man

I'm currently investigating putting together a remote control console for a project I'm involved with building for Burning Man. The console and the project itself are going to be arduino controlled and my first desire would be to use XBee modules to communicate between the console and the project controller, as the console needs to be roughly 100ft from the project itself and would preferably be mobile. A team member had expressed concerns that there may be a lot of interference from random other sources on the playa, does anyone have experience using these wireless modules in the desert?

A team member had expressed concerns that there may be a lot of interference from random other sources on the playa, does anyone have experience using these wireless modules in the desert?

Whether in the desert or the mountains or on a ship at sea is not the issue. What else, electrically, will be in the vicinity?

What other radio traffic, on what frequencies, will there be?

The XBees are pretty good at getting the data back and forth, even in noisy environments. Until the volume of data gets too large for the retry mechanism to handle, that is.

So, how much data, how often?

So, how much data, how often?

I really can't say, thus the asking here to see if anyone has experience with it. There's less of the standard urban interference, ie almost no cordless phones, bluetooth, wifi, etc. However there are a lot of random other projects to create interference, tons of generators, lots of walkie-talkies on various bands.

random_vamp:

So, how much data, how often?

I really can't say, thus the asking here to see if anyone has experience with it. There's less of the standard urban interference, ie almost no cordless phones, bluetooth, wifi, etc. However there are a lot of random other projects to create interference, tons of generators, lots of walkie-talkies on various bands.

...and radio stations, large lasers, a Tesla coil or two - and who knows what else!

Oh - and let's not forget playa dust - stuff as fine or better than cake flour; it gets everywhere and inside of everything no matter how hard you try to seal things. Once you go to the playa, you carry a bit of with you everywhere forever (probably a good amount in your lungs, given the whiteouts I've seen and experienced).

Unfortunately, OP, I can't tell you anything about RF interference or other issues; make sure your communications protocol is fairly fault-tolerant and has a failsafe state in the event of a garbled transmission...

:wink:

I really can't say, thus the asking here to see if anyone has experience with it.

You don't know how much data you will be sending between the controller and the Arduino? You don't know how often?

Or you do, but won't say?

I'm confused.

You don’t know how much data you will be sending between the controller and the Arduino? You don’t know how often?

Or you do, but won’t say?

I’m confused.

Sorry, thought you were re-asking the question about interference. This application is going to be a fairly low and intermittent data volume as it’ll mainly be transmitting data from a joystick plus a number of buttons (along the lines of a game controller, controlling some stepper motors and some relays). With the heaviest use scenario I couldn’t imagine this going past 1kB/s, probably more on the order of 100B/s.

Oh - and let's not forget playa dust - stuff as fine or better than cake flour; it gets everywhere and inside of everything no matter how hard you try to seal things. Once you go to the playa, you carry a bit of with you everywhere forever (probably a good amount in your lungs, given the whiteouts I've seen and experienced).

I'm actually quite aware of the difficulties of the dust, this is going to be my 10th year so I decided its time to work on a pretty big project. All the electronics are going to be in a sealed box, probably laser-cut wood for the control box (possibly metal from Techshop's water cutter, really haven't determined what aesthetic to go with), and the project is night-only so its cooling needs will be limited.

Unfortunately, OP, I can't tell you anything about RF interference or other issues; make sure your communications protocol is fairly fault-tolerant and has a failsafe state in the event of a garbled transmission...

Thats a good point. I'm actually a software engineer specializing in distributed systems in my day-to-day life, so I hadn't really been concerned with the easy things yet. I'm just trying to determine what hardware to use first so I can get that together to get a prototype set up.

With the heaviest use scenario I couldn’t imagine this going past 1kB/s, probably more on the order of 100B/s.

The XBees will keep trying to send data, until they get an acknowledgement that the data was received as sent. So, the “fault tolerance” that cr0sh is concerned about is already taken care of.

The issue that remains is that in a noisy environment, there may need to be hundreds (or thousands) of retries to get a packet through.

I’d set up an Arduino with XBee as sender and receiver, connected to separate PCs, and place them in an environment as close to what the final installation will be like as possible, and see what kind of range and transmissions speeds you can get.

If that range and rate is good enough, go for it.