XBee Radios - Anybody Using Them?

Hey everybody I’m interested in getting the XBee radios working with the Spark Core. It seems that the nRF24L01 RF chips are real cheap but from what I have seen they have poor range and are somewhat not reliable.

XBee radios are the only other quality RF radio link platform that I have come across that looks promising. I know they are using these on quad copters outdoors to get good 2 way communication for pretty long distances.

Before I decide on which XBee I want to start out with I wanted to ask others for feedback on the XBee radios.

I’m assuming that we will need to build a library build out specifically for the Spark Core?

Please share your experience with XBee radios.

Hey RWB,

I used xbees a good bit for a project a while back, they worked well. I had to experiment a lot about getting enough range. Eventually I settled on the xbeepro 900s with the little wire antenna. More $$ but they had enough range to get the work done in one hop. I was trying to get good comms over about 100ft, but with a bunch of metal bulkheads and walls in between, and one end was in a very electronics heavy room.

I was mainly trying to get digital I/O line passing up and running, and eventually got it done. Was an easy way to get the data without sending serial messages.


@jimbol Thanks for the feedback.

Did you test the range past 100ft?

Which units were you using before trying the XBeePro 900’s?

I’ve used them with the Spark and they work fine in transparent mode (use Serial1). There is an Arduino library for API mode that is pretty popular but doesn’t work out of the box with Spark. I actually need it for a project I’m working on but am not quite skilled enough to port it over. If anyone else is working on doing that, I’d be very appreciative if you’d share the results!

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@user Which actual XBee Radios were you using? Do you do any range testing?

I’m asking @BDub if he is interested in porting this over for the Spark if I send him a pair of the XBee radios.

I’ve used these: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10421

Haven’t range tested yet, still in an early prototyping phase on this project.

I used a whole host of them, starting with chip antennas, but found out pretty quickly that I needed to up the ante. I ended up getting a divi xbee developers kit which got me going pretty well. I ended up using the XBee Pro 900, which is superseded by the XBee Pro 900HP. I never did any range testing that resulted in any data, I just found out - this one doesn’t work, that one works better… you can also do a mesh network which increases range by having some intermediate radios. That was necessary for awhile for one project.

The Project I’m doing now, I’m trying to get the Spark to eliminate my need for xbees, have a radio at the sensor node that sends data directly to my iPhone.

I got them maybe to 125 feet, but this was a really unfriendly environment. If you were using them in a residential or open industrial setting, or out doors you’d easily surpass that. I do remember once taking part of the project with me to the post office, which was close to line of sight, and I managed to keep it connected, that was probably at 1/4 mile, with one decent antenna and the other just a short wire whip.

@jimbol I see. I can see the XBee’s being real useful when it comes to having the Sparkcore + XBee Receiver close to a Wifi signal so its connected to the Internet a then having other XBees send back data from sensors up to a mile away if you need that kind of range and use the high power versions. Kinda of like today’s home alarm systems but with the sensors having more range.

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FYI The CC3000 chipset doesn’t support AD-HOC mode, so your Spark will have to talk to your Wifi AP first, then maybe the Cloud, and then your Phone.

@RWB I wouldn’t mind trying :slight_smile: I need a solid radio link for a project I’m working on, and so far this NRF24L01 is not really that plug and play… but that said, nothing ever is. Lol. What’s the difference between transparent mode and API mode? Just a serial bridge vs. more handshaking?

Cool, I’ll send ya a set and let you do your magic. I’m trying to figure out which units are the best to start out with considering I want a decent range ability. Do you think that since the CC3000 is running 2.4Ghz that using the 900mhz XBee’s would be best to keep them from interfering with each other?

If your asking me about Transparent vs API modes, I have no idea :smiley: I’m watching XBee youtube videos now while laser cutting a shit ton of parts.

I’ve got a set of Xbee radios here. They’ll work with the Core in transparent (serial) mode. I can add it to my list of things to get working if you want.

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@timb Which version do you have? Do they all work on the same protocol? Will one ported library work for all the XBee versions?

The library is located here: https://code.google.com/p/xbee-arduino/

It supports series 1 and 2 modules.

Have you tried this with the Spark Core?

Timb. I see you again. I have a climate control project that I am using XBees in. We need to chat more on that I would love to get your input.

I have been using Series 2 for sending temperature readings and have them placed all over my 3000 sq ft house. They have worked great in connecting, no problems sending data.

I put a bunch of them in a box for temperature testing and in a refrig so they were surrounded with metal. All of them could be read from outside the rerig one could be read even across the house.

So far I have been pleased.

Are you using the XBee Series 2 Pro radios, the ones with the higher power output?

I ordered up the XBee Pro 900 HP to see how well they work.

I am using the standard S2. They need to work on batteries so I am keeping the power lower. For my application they had plenty of range.

Just bumping this to see if any progress has been made porting the Xbee library.