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Digi XBees Work to Transform Package Delivery with Connected Lockers

How many times have you missed an anticipated package delivery only to wait days for that one moment when the stars align and the delivery comes while your home? Or maybe that special moment never comes, and the package you’ve been waiting for is returned to its sender.

SmartBox Co., Ltd. is revolutionizing the distribution industry to solve that problem. The company, founded in 2013 and headquartered in Seoul, Korea, manufactures the “SmartBox,” a high-tech locker that applies IoT technology for unattended parcel delivery. It’s the world’s first Internet of Things-based delivery locker. And unlike traditional kiosk lockers, the SmartBox is more convenient, independent, and economical.

SmartBoxWhen parcel arrives, the delivery-person enters a mobile number and places the package in a secure locker. The recipient gets an SMS message with a password to open the secure locker.

Using Digi’s wireless XBee modules and gateways, SmartBox can work with either unmanned delivery destinations or traditional lockers. Each SmartBox locker is equipped with an XBee module that provides connectivity and intelligence to permit/forbid access to lockers based on single-use codes. A single Digi XBee gateway carries backhaul traffic to SmartBox’s operations center where lockers can be monitored and maintained centrally. That gateway also sends SMS notifications to package recipients. More than 3,000 SmartBox lockers have been installed in apartments, college dormitories, public offices, office buildings, and subway stations across South Korea and Japan.

Interested in learning more about SmartBox and how the lockers utilize Digi XBee modules?

Read the full case study here >>

What Makes Thread a Secure Wireless Protocol?

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With XBee Thread soon arriving, we’re fielding a lot of questions regarding the protocol’s touted security benefits. Not only does Thread provide a robust network with no single point of failure, but it also offers businesses and developers extremely secure wireless communication. Let’s look at a couple reasons why.Web

IP-based Security Protocols
Yes, it’s a low-powered network, not unlike ZigBee and other 802.15.4 radios, but it’s also IP-based. This is important because with an IP-based networking protocol, developers can tap into security protocols used when you’re browsing the internet. Some of the common ones are DTLS, TLS and SSL. These IP-based security protocols provide the network with secure end-to-end communication.

Commissioning
Another benefit of the Thread protocol is the commissioning process. Commissioning is the process of joining a new node to the Thread network. Previously, this could lead to network vulnerabilities and be overly complex. But, the creators of Thread have made it a straightforward and user-friendly experience by leveraging mobile technology and passphrases. This ensures no rogue nodes are able to join the network without being overly complex.

There are three ways to add a node to a Thread network, out-of-band commissioning, discovery, and through a commissioning application on a mobile device.

Out-of-band commissioning mode configures a node with the network credentials of the desired network. This makes the node behave like a partition of the network.  When it comes in range of the network, it will be like two partitions joining into a larger network creating a secure handoff.

When commissioning via discovery mode, the node searches for a network with matching credentials. For this, the security is simple, the network must be in range of the the node, the network must allow joining, and the node must be told to expect a node to be joining, identified by its EUI 64, or unique IPv6 MAC address.

Lastly, Thread introduces a third method, and arguably the easiest new way to commission a device, through a commissioning application installed on a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.  Thread describes this process as petitioning and joining.

Petitioning is the process of authenticating and authorizing the commissioning device (like your phone or laptop), which will run the Thread commissioning app. The device can then communicate with the Thread network either locally or via the internet through the network’s Border Router. This forms a secure TLS connection between the network’s Border Router and the user’s commissioning device.

So now that we’ve got our commissioning device authorized, how do we add a new node to the network? It’s pretty easy.

When a node wants to join the network it will send a request to the commissioning device where the user will be prompted to enter a key to authorize the node(s) to join the network. Once the key is entered, there is a secure DTLS handshake between the joining node and the Commissioner. The new node receives the network parameters and is all ready to function with the necessary rights and privileges.

This is just a brief look at why many IoT experts consider Thread a more secure wireless protocol based on its security features and commissioning process. Check out these resources to learn more about the Thread wireless protocol:

And, if you have any Thread-related questions send us a tweet at @digidotcom or @XBeeWireless. You can also visit the official Thread website for more information.

Rube Goldberg Wireless Controller Network

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By Jon Freeman

At face value, the project deals with a Rube Goldberg-style vending machine. In reality, it is designed to provide a wireless controller sandbox that can be used by someone to refine their building, programming and communication skills. The use of wireless makes it relatively easy for anyone to add, extend or replace modules.

Build your own with the project files on Dropbox!

Digi XBee® S2C 802.15.4 – Let Your Imagination Run Wireless!

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Digi XBee® is the world’s #1 RF module because our common footprint is shared across protocols and frequencies. Anything is possible with Digi XBee – from the small science project in the lab to NASA monitoring payloads on a rocket, Digi XBee gives you the tools and flexibility you need to rapidly innovate. The latest example in this broad line of modules is the Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 which is now available with the Silicon Labs Ember® EM35x transceiver.

This latest module is ideal for applications requiring low latency and predictable communication timing. The Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 is also ideal when your application requires robust multipoint wireless connectivity with reduced power consumption, support for the over-the-air firmware updates, and an upgrade path to DigiMesh® or ZigBee® Mesh protocols.

New Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 Offered in Through-Hole & SMT Form Factors

Anyone deploying Digi XBee can swap one Digi XBee for another. You don’t have to design a printed circuit board to take advantage of Silicon Labs’ latest chip – Digi has done it for you on the Digi XBee platform saving you time and giving you the confidence to get connected quickly and easily. Providing quick, robust communication in point-to-point, peer-to-peer, and multipoint/star configurations, Digi XBee S2C 802.15.4 products enable robust end-point connectivity with ease. Whether deployed as a pure cable replacement for simple serial communication, or as part of a more complex hub-and-spoke network of sensors, Digi XBee 802.15.4 modules maximize performance and ease of development.

Digi XBee is a special product because of our customers: the innovators, the hackers, the problem-solvers — whatever you call yourself, Digi is dedicated to providing you with everything you need to quickly create wireless connectivity solutions. Let your imagination run wireless!

Click here for a “Digi XBee 802.15.4 Protocol Comparison” Technical Brief>>

What Are the Differences Between DigiMesh® and ZigBee® Mesh?

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Mesh networking is a powerful way to route data over an RF network. Range is extended by allowing data to hop node to node and reliability and resiliency is increased by “self-healing,” or the ability to create alternate paths when one node fails or a connection is lost.

One popular mesh networking protocol is ZigBee®, which is specifically designed for low-data rate, low-power applications. Digi offers several products based on the ZigBee protocol. Additionally, Digi has developed a similar mesh protocol named DigiMesh®. Both ZigBee and DigiMesh offer unique advantages important to different applications. The following chart highlights these differences:

ZigBee® Mesh DigiMesh®
Node types and their benefits Multiple: Coordinators, Routers, End Devices. End devices can sometimes be less expensive because of reduced functionality. Single: One homogeneous node type, with more flexibility to expand the network. DigiMesh simplifies network setup and reliability in
environments where routers may come and go due to interference or damage.
Battery Deployed Networks Coordinators and routers must be mains powered All nodes are capable of battery operation and can sleep. No single point of failure associated with relying on a gateway or coordinator to
maintain time synchronization.
Over-the-air firmware updates Yes Yes
Range Most ZigBee devices have range of less than 2 miles (3.2 km) for each hop. Available on XBee SX with range of up to 40+ miles for each hop.
Frame payload and throughput Up to 80 bytes. Up to 256 bytes, depending on product. Improves throughput for applications that send larger blocks of data.
Supported frequencies and RF data rates Predominantly 2.4 GHz (250 kbps) 900 MHz (Up to 250 Kbps), 868MHz, 2.4 GHz (Up to 250 Kbps)
Security 128-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining. Both 128 and 256-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining.
Interoperability Potential for interoperability between vendors. Digi proprietary
Interference tolerance Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS). 900 MHz: Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS). 2.4GHz: Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS).
Addressing Two layers. MAC address (64 bit) and Network address (16 bit). MAC address (64 bit) only.
Maintenance More sniffers and diagnostic tools available on market. Simpler addressing can help in diagnosing problems and setting up a network.

For more information on DigiMesh and Digi XBee click here.

Introducing the XBee SX Module

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Welcome the latest addition to the XBee® family, the XBee SX! This is truly the muscle module of the XBee ecosystem. Don’t let the standard XBee surface mount form factor fool you, it packs a punch with 1-watt of output power. It’s a perfect embedded wireless solution for OEMs that depend on reliable wireless communication.

Some of the key specs you’ll want to know:

  • Maximum 1-Watt Output Power
  • 256-bit AES Encryption
  • DigiMesh Protocol

Just like every other XBee, it’s easy to use and configure with the popular software tool, XCTU. Here is XBee Product Manager, Matt Dunsmore, introducing the brand new module:

Want more details? Click here and visit the XBee SX product page.

Olsbergs Uses XBee to Make Construction Sites Safer

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Olsbergs is a leading manufacturer of electro-hydraulic control systems for cranes. Olsbergs was looking to improve efficiency and safety for construction crane companies and crane operators. They wanted to turn to radio remote-controlled hydraulics. They needed a partner that would meet ETSI standards, as well as the high standards of their own company.

Digi was the company that they turned to. Olsbergs needed a radio module that would be risk-free and precise. With so many of their trucks being used in cities and other populated areas, risk had to be minimized as much as possible. It would have to utilize the entire ISM band to enable more channels and provide more security. The solution was the XBee 868 Low-Power RF module for Europe.

With their new remote controlled hydraulics, truck cranes which previously required two operators, a spotter and a driver, now only require one. With Digi’s help, Olsbergs has improved safety, accuracy, and reliability for crane operators, while reducing costs and saving money for construction companies.

See the full story and video >>

Which Mesh Technology is Right for You? – Q&A Follow-Up

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Are there tutorials available for XCTU, or user manuals?xbee-zigbee (2)
Yes, there is a complete help system built into the XCTU interface. Visit the Digi YouTube page for video-based tutorials.

Can you program DigiMesh with legacy XCTU?
We recommend customers use the new and improved XCTU. Legacy XCTU may still work with some products, but it is no longer supported or updated for new releases.

Can I use the new XCTU on older versions of Xtend RF Radios?
Yes, but certain features of XCTU may not work with older versions of XTend radios.

Does hardcoding PAN ID and Channel as used in DigiMesh modules have any disadvantage?
Hardcoding the PAN ID does not have any significant disadvantage, but note that some products require the use of multiple channels, but the channel range can be selected and configured as desired.

Digimesh networks are configured by setting the Pan ID and operating channel. This method lends itself to very simple network formation as no association mechanism is involved. Zigbee uses an association process where routers and end devices receive the operating PAN ID and channel upon joining the network. One advantage of this system is that joining can be disabled.

For a network of 400 nodes, with up and down communication, which is preferable, ZigBee or DigiMesh?
Both mesh protocols can work for this network if configured appropriately. DigiMesh is slightly easier to architect simply because there is no need to select different node types.

Can we use your gateway and connect it to our cloud?
Yes, this is an option for most XBee modules.

Can out-of-the-box configuration items be modified via a broadcast or unicast in both ZigBee and DigiMesh?
Yes, ZigBee and DigiMesh nodes can be configured over-the-air.

What’s the range of these 900HP DigiMesh Kit modules?
Range for the XBee-PRO 900HP is up to 9 miles with high-gain antenna. This can be increased by adding additional hops to the network.

We are planning to use ZigBee Mesh network to collect the data from battery powered movable sensors. The sensors will be distributed in two physically apart buildings where there are no wireless connection from one building to another building. Could you please let me know the best way to setup the network, considering moveable sensors will move from one building to another building and should join the network as soon as they enter the range of ZigBee network in another building.
With ZigBee you would need to have some mechanism to instruct the module to leave the current network and attempt to join the other. This could be accomplished with a network watchdog timer that checks for the presence of a coordinator and if none is found will reset and join another network. XBee Zigbee radios also have a feature called join verification that can be set to check for the presence of a coordinator on a power reset and reset its network settings if none is found. Digimesh could accomplish this by setting both networks with the same PAN ID and Channel credentials, then moving from one network to the other would be seemless.

Any DigiMesh Kits including Raspberry pi projects?
We don’t have any Raspberry Pi projects in our current kits. However, there are plenty of RPi project examples on the web.

What comes in the kits that are on the screen?
ZigBee Mesh Kit:

  • 3 – XBee Grove Development Boards
  • 3 – XBee ZigBee Modules w/ PCB antenna
  • 3 – Micro USB cables
  • 2 – XBee stickers

900HP DigiMesh Kit:

  • 3 XBee Grove Development Boards
  • 3 XBee-PRO 900HP Modules for US/Canada
  • 3 Micro-USB Cables
  • 2 XBee Stickers

Do these modules require a Digi concentrator and/or cloud or are they compatible with 3rd party systems?
Digi Gateways can be used with our ZigBee and 900HP DigiMesh modules to connect them to cloud-based applications. ZigBee modules can also be used with 3rd party gateways, but there could be some compatibility issues depending on the implementation of the ZigBee protocol on the 3rd party gateway. Customers that need a gateway to connect their devices to an IP-based system are suggested to use Digi gateways.

When addressing a ZigBee node, is it required to use both the 64-bit address AND the 16-bit ID address?
Frames may be addressed using either the extended(64 bit) or the network address (16 bit). If the extended address form is used, then the network address field should be set to 0xFFFE (unknown). If the network address form is used, then the extended address field should be set to 0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF (unknown). If an invalid 16-bit address is used as a destination address, and the 64-bit address is unknown (0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF), the modem status message will show a delivery status code of 0x21 (network ack failure) and a discovery status of 0x00 (no discovery overhead).

If a non-existent 64-bit address is used as a destination address, and the 16-bit address is unknown (0xFFFE), address discovery will be attempted and the modem status message will show a delivery status code of 0x24 (address not found) and a discovery status code of 0x01 (address discovery was attempted).

What relative humidity or IP rating can the “raw” PCAs operate in?
0-95% humidity

Do you have any office in India which can support us in developing the application, across the table or over the phone?
Digi no longer has an office in India, but support is available through our US offices.

Is there a DigiMesh kit available for Europe (868 or 2.4)?
There is not currently a DigiMesh kit available for 868LP or DigiMesh 2.4 modules.

Does DigiMesh come with a cellular and or satellite gateway?
Yes, available in the ConnectPort X4 and X4H.

Is there a notion of sustained broadcast rate that can be claimed? Like 9600 baud, 19200, etc. What is expected of transmitting node, in terms of backing off?
Each node that transmits the broadcast will also create an entry in a local broadcast transmission table. This entry is used to keep track of each received broadcast packet to ensure the packets are not endlessly transmitted. Each entry persists for 8 seconds. The broadcast transmission table holds 8 entries. This process creates an approximate once per second maximum sustained broadcast rate. System generated broadcast events can also occur so careful testing should be performed to estimate any network’s specific throughput capabilities.

Can XCTU be used remotely?
XCTU can be used to configure locally connected nodes and ‘remote’ nodes connected to your network over-the-air.

What’s the difference between the 900HP modem and the Xtend modem?
They are similar in terms of performance and functionality. The 900HP modem is less expensive, and slightly lower range than the XTend.

Which antenna are recommended to maximize transmission across water?
High-gain directional or omni antennas provide strong performance across water and land. Note that over both water and land, the higher the antenna, the more likely you are to achieve unimpeded line-of-sight range.

What do you mean by complex deployment?
Large mesh networks are considered complex deployments. ZigBee networks can be slightly more complex than DigiMesh, simply because the node types need to be defined for every node on the network and there must be a powered coordinator defined for the network to operate properly.

ZigBee nodes: What if a coordinator stops working?
The coordinator can be a point of failure for a ZigBee network.

Can ZigBee module work like mesh?
Yes, ZigBee modules operate in mesh networks.

DigiMesh why no 433MHz?
Not a strong market opportunity to drive the creation of this product. If you have customers interested in this technology, please let the Product Management team know.

How do the modules differentiate between the line-of-site and a reflected packet?
Multipath signals can create destructive interference when they arrive out of phase with a direct signal at the receiving antenna. This generally results in fading or weakening of the received signal.

Is there a limit on the size of data that can be transmitted? Or a good practice / recommendation to deal with larger datasets?
If using API mode, there is a maximum payload size that can be included with each API frame. This size will vary with different versions of XBee module but can always be queried with the NP command.

With unicast will each node of a network repeat packets or does the mesh network only repeat packets on nodes that it knows are on the path to the final node?
Only modules involved in the routing of the data will retransmit the packet.

Which module you recommend for smart street lighting , and how is the communication traffic managed? Can every lamp on the network talk to each other?
We have intelligent street lighting customers using ZigBee and DigiMesh technology. In both network types, every lamp on the network can communicate with one another. Each technology has pros and cons, it comes down to customer preference.

Two part question:What is the advantage of directed broadcasting (i.e., defining a destination address)? Does this improve communication speeds of data to the ‘host’?
Directed broadcasting does not improve the communication speed of data to the host but it does simplify addressing as it allows you to address data to a specific module. Otherwise you would need an identifier in the payload of your broadcast packet to inform the desired module to reply. It also limits the amount of extraneous data that will be presented to host applications.

My question is why South America (Argentina) is not listed in market for 900HP Digimesh?
900HP DigiMesh modules can be used in Argentina, there are no specific certification requirements for that region.

I already got the zig bee mesh kit a couple weeks ago… I have an xbee shield for arduino, do I need anything else to get started?
Nope, you are ready to go build your own XBee-enabled prototype!

Is there any possibility to compress/decompress data before/aftrer zb/digimesh transmission?
The XBee radios are serial radios. Any binary data can be transmitted via an XBee Radio. A JPEG image is a good example of a compressed file that could be transmitted via an XBee.

Would you briefly compare these to the Wireless HART and ISA100 devices/standards?
WirelessHART and Zigbee share IEEE 802.15.4 as the basis of their physical layers. This allows them to use essentially the same hardware at about the same cost for transmitting and receiving. WirelessHART uses TDMA, which allots individual time slots for each transmission. ZigBee uses CSMA with collision detection. In WirelessHART, each node operates as a router, which is similar to that of DigiMesh.

Can I code the modules or must I use an external processor?
Digi does offer ‘programmable’ variants of both ZigBee and DigiMesh modules, which includes an 8-bit microprocessor onboard the module that can be programmed with a custom application. In most cases, customers use their own external microprocessor with our standard XBee modules.

Contact a Digi expert and get started today! Contact Us