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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), 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.

XBee Tech Tip: Sending Serial Data From One XBee Wi-Fi to Another

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This Tech Tip is brought to you by Digi Applications Engineer Mark Grierson. It is Part 1 in a 3-part series focusing on the XBee Wi-Fi module.

Be sure to answer the XBee Puzzler at the end of this entry for a chance to win an XBee Wi-Fi Development Kit!

In this tech tip, we are going to see just how easy it is to send serial data through from one XBee Wi-Fi radio module to another.

Setup

In order to complete this exercise, you’ll need:

  • 2  XBee  Wi-Fi(S6B) radio modules
  • 2 USB interface boards. These can be the development boards contained in the XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit, any XBIB-U or XBIB-U-DEV interface board, or any third party USB XBee interface board such as the Parallax XBee USB adapter board
  • PC (or Mac) running Next Generation XCTU

Procedure

Sending transparent serial data between 2 XBee Wi-Fi modules.

First we will need to connect 2 Wi-Fi Modules to a Wi-Fi access point that has access to the internet. For brevity, if you need assistance connecting you modules to an access point, please refer to the Quick Start Guide: XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit for assistance.

Note: For the purposes of this article, a basic understanding of XCTU is assumed. For specific help in working with XCTU please see the help section of the XCTU program.

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  • Connect the radio modules to the PC using the interface boards and launch 2 instances of XCTU.
  • In each instance of XCTU connect to one of the XBee Wi-Fi modules:
    1. Click on the Add Radio icon
    2. Select the correct com port
    3. Ensure data settings are correct (Radio default is 9600, 8, N,1)
    4. Click Finish

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  • Now click on the radio module in each instance of XCTU to read its settings.

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  • Once you have the 2 instances of XCTU running, verify that the radios have received IP addresses from your DHCP server and then address each radio’s Destination IP address (DL) to match the Module IP Address (MY) of the other radio as shown below.

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  • You will also want to ensure that the Device Options (DO) setting is set to 0. This will ensure that the serial data is not sent to the cloud.
  • Go to the “Consoles” mode of each XCTU by clicking the terminal icon at the top of XCTU.
  • Open the serial connection to the modules by clicking the “Open Serial Connection” icon on each XCTU instance.   The Icon will change to a connected status  and the background changes to green.
  • You can now type text directly into one of the console log screens and see it appear in red of the other consoles screen.

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  • If you would rather send an entire string at once, this can be accomplished by creating a packet by clicking on the “Add New Packet” icon.   This packet builder also lets you select ASCII or Hex data to be sent.

Using the packet builder, you can create a series of serial strings to transmit from the radio.

Summary

As you complete this exercise, it will become apparent just how easy it can be to connect your XBee Wi-Fi module to any serial sensor or device and have that data sent to any other device connected to another XBee Wi-Fi module. Of course this is just a simple example of how transparent serial data can be transmitted around an XBee Wi-Fi network. XBee modules have many more advanced features including a full API mode to allow your applications to efficiently move data to any IP addressable device worldwide.

In our next issue we will demonstrate sending data back and forth between a host connected to an XBee Wi-Fi module such as XCTU and a non-XBee network client application on a local area network. Until then, have fun experimenting with all of the varied capabilities of these remarkable radio modules.

XBee Puzzler

Which statement best describes how a passive high gain antenna works?

  1. A high gain antenna adds energy to a radio to enhance its range.
  2. A high gain antenna does not add or subtract overall energy to a radio transmission, but rather focuses or re-shapes the radiation pattern in a certain direction.
  3. A high gain antenna removes energy from a radio’s radiation pattern.
  4. A high gain antenna has no effect on the range of a radio link

Submit your answer below. The deadline for entries is June 12, 2014. Three winners will be randomly selected from the correct submissions. Winners will be notified by email. Employees of Digi and its subsidiaries are not eligible for the prize drawing. Good luck!

This XBee Puzzler contest is now closed. The correct answer is: 2. A high gain antenna does not add or subtract overall energy to a radio transmission, but rather focuses or re-shapes the radiation pattern in a certain direction.

 

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.

How the Internet of Things Changes Everything on Bloomberg

M2M and the Era of the App on Connected World

Sprint Digital Caddies offer M2M Solution for Golf in M2M Magazine

IoT Podcast: Where Self Milking Cows Graze Fields of Data Gold on GigaOm

Cisco Survey Hints Many IT Leaders also don’t Understand Internet of Things from ZDNet

Do you have a link to share? Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @DigiDotCom– we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

EVE Project Connects XBee to Open Source IoT

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The EVE project, from Ciseco out of Nottingham, United Kingdom is a plug in board for the new Raspberry Pi mini computer. The hardware and software together will create a server for connecting various wireless device protocols to a single point. It features an XBee socket for connections to ZigBee, ZigBee Smart Energy, 802.15.4, WiFi, long-range 900 MHz, DigiMesh and 868 MHz radios.

The Raspberry Pi EVE board is the reference hardware for the IoT Toolkit gateway. It’s a work in progress, and is currently raising funding for development on Kickstarter. Presently they are more than 2/3 of the way to their goal, with time to spare. Cisesco’s Miles Hodkinson and I spoke jut the other day about the project and the possibilities for talking to a Raspberry Pi that’s 28 miles away with the new XBee-PRO 900HP. Sound interesting? You can help fund EVE.

Smart Apron: Apron Alert with XBee via DVICE

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Apron Alert is what we like to think of as a modern take on the dinner bell. It’s an apron that automatically alerts guests when the food is ready. Here’s how it works:

The Smart Apron was developed by Smart Design’s Interaction Lab and uses wireless XBee radios affixed to Lilypad Arduinos to create an apron that automatically notifies your diners when you’ve started cooking and when you’ve finished. The apron’s magnetic clasp initializes the signal that is sent to a server program that then relays that signal to smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers following the cook wearing the apron. The entire set-up is lightweight, with the components discreetly stitched into the interior of the apron, and operates using a single AAA battery for power.

Read the Full Article on DVICE
Read on FashioningTech
See Apron Alert in the XBee Project Gallery

Have you made or seen an awesome XBee project? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter. We’re always looking for projects to share!

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