A Swarm of Xbees! Arduino Xbee Wireless & More

In the past we have covered a few things that interact through serial, from RFID readers to controlling an Arduino’s pins using the serial terminal. Serial as we have talked about it is actually know as UART, and operates over 2 pins RX and TX (receive and transmit). These connections have previously been limited by their required wires. So… what if you could drop the wire connection between the arduino and the RFID reader, or your computer and the arduino without adding much complexity? Well that is what Gerardo proposed with this article he wrote for bildr.A Swarm of Xbees! Arduino Xbee Wireless & More

Everyone hates long wires running from one end of the room to the other, and let’s face it, it’s aesthetically unpleasant. So, why not make your next project a little bit more interesting and easy to use by adding wireless communication capabilities? In this post we will be using the the series 1 XBee modules to make this happen. This particular version of the XBee is perfect for applications where you need low-power consumption, easy integration, and great distance.

Series 1 vs Series 2/.25

A quick note here: This article does not cover the series 2 or series 2.5 XBee modules, and the series 1 and 2/2.5 are not compatible with each other. If you are looking to create mesh-networks, or multi-point to single-point networks, this is not for you, and you want the series 2/2.5. If you want ease-of-use, have low security requirements, and are basically looking to replace your wired serial connection with a wireless solution, the series 1 XBee is perfect.

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Furthermore, the series 2/2.5 is not meant to replace the series 1… They are just different and live side by side, so don’t feel like you are buying obsolete technology with the series 1.

As I alluded to above, these modules are basically a wireless UART serial connection, so you can communicate with anything that uses UART (has the RX/TX pins). And when series 1 XBees are properly configured, sending data through the RX pin on modules will cause that exact same data to just come pouring out the TX pin on all other XBees in range as if they were wired together. Simple as that.Schematic A Swarm of Xbees! Arduino Xbee Wireless & More

Choosing the right one for you

XBees come with different antennas, and power ratings, so depending on what your requirements are, the modules will cost you anywhere from $20 to $70 and are available from your favorite vendor like Sparkfun. If you are not sure what you need, go with the 1mW chip antenna version, and you usually can’t go wrong.

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