xbee newbee wanabee

I want to get started with Xbee and maybe include it with my project. Problem is, I know absolutely nothing about xbee. I know I need two units to get started. I don't know what I need (if anything) to program the devices or to interface with the Arduino mini pro.

Questions:

  • I have seen a wide variation in price. For instance Mouser has the XBP24-BZWIT for 28.00 and Sparkfun has the XBP24-AWI-001 for 39.00. What is the difference and why is one 33% more than the other.
  • Do I need the USB explorer board to be able to use or program the xbee?
  • I also saw another board called a "logic level converter". Is this something I need to get started?
  • As stated above, I want to use this with the mini pro. I have a Arduino 2560, but I try to aim for the smallest foot print I can. Is there any reason this would be an issue as apposed to using a full size arduino and/or xbee shield?

If these are head slappers....sorry. This a completely new area for me. I want to get what I need, but not worry about something that I [u]MAY[/u] need until I know more. So far, I have an understanding wife...but don't want to push the envelope, if you know what I mean.

Charlie Charlie

I know I need two units to get started.

Yes, you do. They are like walkie-talkies. One is pretty much useless. Two are useful.

I don't know what I need (if anything) to program the devices

digi.com provides an application called X-CTU, but they do not make it all that easy to find. Once you do, though, it works great for configuring the devices. They do not need programming, as such, which is a good thing because only digi can do that.

What is the difference and why is one 33% more than the other.

Because one comes from Sparkfun. Enough said. By the way, Mouser has the same model that Sparkfun has, and it is a much better choice than the one you listed for Mouser.

There are two series of XBees - series 1 for point to point and series 2.5 for mesh networking.

For two radios talking to each other, the series 1 models are much easier to configure and get working with bi-directional communication.

Do I need the USB explorer board to be able to use or program the xbee?

It is not absolutely essential. But, it makes it orders of magnitude easier, in my opinion. I wish that I had bought one from the beginning.

I also saw another board called a "logic level converter". Is this something I need to get started?

If the logic level converter you are referring to is a TTL to logic level converter, then, no, you don't need it.

However, the XBee is a 3.3V device. If the mini you have is 3.3, too, you are golden. Otherwise, you need a shield or a breakout board that manages the 5V to 3.3V conversion.

Is there any reason this would be an issue as apposed to using a full size arduino and/or xbee shield?

Just the potential voltage issue, and the ease of connecting the XBee and the mini. I'd recommend a shield for the Mega to get the project developed, then move to the mini for deployment.

So far, I have an understanding wife...but don't want to push the envelope, if you know what I mean.

Buy her a toy, too. Whatever would be fair.

Thanks a lot Paul. That pretty much gave me what I needed. One thing I am unclear on, though.... I know there are IO ports on the xbee. Since there is no programming, should I assume that these are strictly pass-through? In other words: I have a an xbee interfaced with an arduino and set a digitial IO high on the xbee and that sets that IO high on the remote xbee, and thereby input that signal to the microcontroller on the remote end? I guess that signal could also trigger an external circuit that didn't require a microctroller. Or am I off the mark?

I did go ahead and order the USB explorer, a xbee shield, and a couple of breakout boards.

Thats again.

The use of I/O pins on the XBee requires the use of API mode (I believe), and the XBee doesn't tell the Arduino anything about the state of the IO pin. If you are using the I/O pins on the XBee, what is the Arduino doing? If you are using the I/O pins on the Arduino, the XBee doesn't know anything about that.

I guess that signal could also trigger an external circuit that didn't require a microctroller.

That's what I was trying to say up there...

Ok. Not sure I understand, but I don't even have the devices in my hands, so it might be a bit early to be asking questions. I suspect this will be an adventure. Adventures are good though.

Thanks