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Look What I Made: XBee Project Updates

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We come across amazing XBee projects every day, so we wanted to remind you that we’re constantly updating the XBee Project Gallery. Here’s just a few of the latest additions– from a robotic arm that can be controlled remotely to a fleet of four vehicles that drive themselves.

You can also check out our XBee Project Pinboard that includes all of the projects from the XBee Project Gallery.


A Remote Controlled Robotic Arm by Easton Lachappelle

Using a pair of XBee’s and an old Nintendo Super Glove, the robotic arm converts the user’s movements into robotic motion.

Read on and watch the video 


Autonomous Vehicles by Team WaspsTeamWasps

Developed by a team of middle schoolers, these four vehicles drive themselves around a course avoiding collisions and navigating through a four way intersection. The team took first place in the Junior Exhibition at RoboFest 2013 World Competition.

Read on and watch the video

Magnetic Levitation Train by Antipodes


This remote controlled train uses magnets that alternate polarity to power itself along the track.

Read on and watch the video





Do you have an XBee project you would like featured in the XBee Project Gallery? You can submit your own or someone else’s project here.

Featuring MakerBot: 3D Printing at Your Fingertips

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MakerBot Industries is a Brooklyn-based company founded by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach “Hoeken” Smith that produces 3D printers. MakerBot’s mission is to bring desktop 3D printing into the home at an affordable price.

In addition to their online store, MakerBot opened a retail location in Manhattan. ”Come to the MakerBot Store in New York City to get a taste of some of today’s most exciting technology, right at your fingertips. See the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer in action, making new things while you watch. Browse our selection of sculptures and models made on MakerBot machines right here in our Brooklyn workshop. Better yet, leave with a totally unique gift for yourself, or someone you think is cool enough to own something made on a MakerBot.”

Walking by the store is enough to get a glimpse of the 3D printing action that’s inside. Here are some photos of the window display where you can see items such as a 3D printed toy truck, a cupcake and this 3D building that was generated with a printing time of just over 5 hours.

A Notable Note

Recently, MakerBot donated two Replicator 2 3D printers to a two-person team that created a robotic hand for a boy in South Africa. “Folks at Makerbot heard about the project and donated two Replicator 2 3D printers to the pair who were then able to create parts by sending CAD files back and forth. In a few days, Liam had a prototype hand and the pair continued to refine and improve the model.”

You can read the full story on TechCrunch, Two Makers Come Together To Make A Robotic Hand For A Boy In South Africa.

If you’re in New York, MakerBot is launching a series of workshops, classes and lectures for anyone eager to learn the nuances of 3D printing. The company’s retail location will feature lessons like “Setting Up and Maintaining Your New MakerBot” on Friday nights from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.. At $35 per class (this varies depending on which one you attend) space is limited, so register in advance. Not in NYC? MakerBot is all about connecting with their community, you can interact with the MakerBot crew on Twitter and check out their Facebook Page here.

Do you have a 3D printer? If so, what have you made? We’d love to see your photos on Twitter or Facebook!

Interview with Adam Wolf, Co-Author of Make: Lego and Arduino Projects

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We’re truly lucky here at Digi International to host some of the most innovative minds who are leading the inception of the Internet of Things. Today, we’re sharing the story of Adam Wolf, a Firmware Engineer at Digi Design Services and a recently published author of Make: LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics.

Adam came to Spectrum Design Solutions last August from Lockheed Martin. He usually works on embedded Linux projects on drivers as well as front-end programs on small devices.

The Motivation 
Adam works on two or three projects a month, so his skills touch a vast range of solutions. One of the most recent products he worked on is a hand-held style medical device designed to read ion concentration from sweat that can detect diseases. He also worked on an Android tablet for a company that had their own audio chip for background noise cancelation for a phone. “The projects come in and you work on them and then they leave fast. So, you get to work on tons of different projects and there’s brand new stuff all of the time,” Adam said.

Before working on all of the various projects at Spectrum, Adam was still craving more hands-on time. So, he and Matt Beckler started a side project, Wayne and Layne. Through this side project and attending Maker Faire each year, he realized that elementary school kids had obtained incredible skills through the Lego League program. They could make complicated RC project with motors and sensors. But, parents were having a hard time stimulating these skills when the school year was over. Adam identified that parents had no way to get their kids working on projects and that expanding knowledge was a problem.

Co-Author and writer for Wired and MakeJohn Baichtal, also wanted to make a more technical project hooking up Arduino and Lego. They met at a local hackerspace and did 5-6 projects that had the widest spread in complexity. In their book, those topics are introduced in order. The first project is a “draw bot” that drives around your table and draws lines. One of the last projects, the Gripper Bot, is a complex tank with an arm that uses six motors and four XBees.

‘Making’ Accessibility 
In addition to teaching and sharing knowledge, Adam has worked to increase simplicity and accessibility. One year, while working with many schools and camps, Wayne and Layne created a kit that was a word game with a small LCD on it to be programmed on a computer. When they went to do the programming, the school computers were locked down. IT was trying to give admin rights on the computers, but after much time and frustration Adam realized that he needed to make a project where anyone with a PC could gain access. Blinky Grid and Blinky POV were born. Now, you can link your kit up on your monitor and press the button on the webpage and it blinks squares back– the timing of the blinks wirelessly programs. Once the device is on a website, you can open it from anywhere.

Early Inspiration and Community Impact
For as long as he can remember, Adam has wanted to make electronic toys. In sixth grade, he and Matt Beckler put their paper route money together and bought a Parallax microcontroller kit. “We build it and ran it in DOS [Basic], and we were so excited. But, after about three hours, we realized that we couldn’t do much more with it. There were no magazines or resources for kids. We didn’t know anyone who knew about microcontrollers. That’s why I’m happy to be a part of fixing that problem for kids today. It used to be so hard– even if you had the money to enter the arena. Now, with the Internet and hackerspaces, people will gladly teach you for free.”

With Adam working hard himself to inspire and tech kids about electronics, he has his own set of mentors that motivate his mision. In the DIY community he finds Evil Mad Scientists efforts to be exciting. And, closer to home, Adam looks to his wife, a teacher, for techniques on clearly explaining projects. “If I can explain it to a fifth grader, I can explain it here at Digi or through a webpage,” Adam said.

If you would like to connect with Adam you can find him on Twitter on his personal account @AdamWWolf and @Wayne&Layne. If you have questions about this post, questions for Adam or interviewee suggestions please leave them in the comments section below or follow us on Twitter.

Recommended Reading: The Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way we do business, collect information and live our lives. We’ve compiled a growing list of recommended books that will get you (or keep you) at the forefront of the inception and growth of the IoT.

We’ll be updating this list with your suggestions and newly released books on a regular basis.

Update: January 24, 2013

M2M Communications: A Systems Approach by David Boswarthick, Omar Elloumi, Olivier Hersent

The Internet of Things: Key Applications and Protocols by David Boswarthick, Omar Elloumi, Olivier Hersent

Interconnecting Smart Objects with IP: The Next Internet by Jean-Philippe Vasseur & Adam Dunkels

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication services: High-impact Technology – What You Need to Know: Definitions, Adoptions, Impact, Benefits, Maturity, Vendors by Kevin Roebuck

LEGO and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics by John Baichtal, Matthew Beckler, Adam Wolf

—March 26, 2012 

Building Wireless Sensor Networks by Rob Faludi

Getting Started with the Internet of Things: Connecting Sensors and Microcontrollers to the Cloud by Cuno Pfister

Making Things Talk: Using Sensors, Networks, and Arduino to see, hear, and feel your world by Tom Igoe

Making Things Move DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists by Dustyn Roberts

Programming Interactivity by Joshua Noble

Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling

ZigBee Wireless Sensor and Control Network by Ata Elahi

Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design by Mike Kuniavsky

Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing by Adam Greenfield

What have you read lately? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us your suggestions for the list.

Postscapes Internet of Things Winners

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We were excited to see many projects that use Digi products nominated for Postscapes Internet of Things Awards. We were even more excited to see many of those projects named as winners including Kijani Grows, Eve, Libelium’s Waspmote and Connecting Light. You can check out each winner below.


Kijani Grows, DIY Project Postscapes Winner

Kijani Grows produces smart aquaponic systems that use sensors and microprocessors, such as the XBee, paired with the cloud and social media networks to help you grow a least a plate of organic microgreens every day.


Eve, People’s Choice for Open Source Project

Eve is a plug in board for the Raspberry Pi mini computer. A hub that connects your wireless devices to each other and the web. At her heart Even is a communicator (between devices), a facilitator, and a guardian (a gateway to allow you to see what is going on in your world). You can see the Kickstarter page for Eve here. The project was successfully funded in November 2012.


Libelium’s Wapsmote, Second Place in People’s Choice for Smart City Application

The solar powered Waspmote system can be deployed across a wide range of applications in urban spaces such as monitoring air quality, waste container levels, structural health and noise maps.


Connecting Light, Second Place in People’s Choice for Networked Art Project

Hundreds (400 to be exact) of six-foot in diameter weather balloons were equipped with high-powered LEDs driven by Programmable XBee radios that communicated with ConnectPort X4 cellular gateways through the iDigi Device Cloud  to illuminate Britain’s greatest Roman monument, Hadrian’s Wall. Digi Professional Services also helped to design the network architecture as an Internet of Things solution. You can see a diagram of the setup of the 73-mile connected work and learn more about the technology here.

You can see the full list of winners on Postscapes and take part in the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #IoTAwards.

Look What I Made: XBee Project Updates

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We come across amazing XBee projects every day, so we wanted to remind you that we’re constantly updating the XBee Project Gallery. Here’s just a few of the latest additions– from a ride that creates approximately the same g-forces as a Top Fuel Dragster to two new ways to listen to and make music.

You can also check out our XBee Project Pinboard that includes all of the projects from the XBee Project Gallery.


Hacked Sega Rally Cabinet by Artica

The Artica team hacked a Sega Rally Cabinet at Codebits VI. With the addition of an Arduino board and an XBee RF module, the cabinet was made to race two camera-equipped radio-control trucks around the floor.

Read on and see more photos


XIG Stock Tracker by Dave Olson

This XIG Stock Tracker or a “stock fortune teller” wirelessly provides real-time updates of the DIGI, or any, stock status using the XBee Internet Gateway for windows. Stock updates as soon as they happen- talk about a great office ornament.

Read on and see more photos



High Tech Pole Tagging By Akira

Holiday decorating anyone? This might be the perfect DIY tool for creating “North Poles” at your home. If you’re looking to add some art to a post or pole, height becomes a problem. This remote-controlled pole climber includes a marker that leaves a trail as the device climbs and descends.

Read on and watch the video


Do you have an XBee project you would like featured in the XBee Project Gallery? You can submit your own or someone else’s project here.

Look What I Made: XBee Project Updates

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We come across amazing XBee projects every day, so we wanted to remind you that we’re constantly updating the XBee Project Gallery. Here are just a few of the latest additions– from an apron that notifies guests when the meal is ready to a DIY tweeting weather station.

Also, check out our XBee Project Pinboard that includes all of the projects from the XBee Project Gallery.


Apron Alert by Smart Design’s Interaction Lab

Apron Alert is a wearable apron that tweets when a meal is being prepared and when it’s ready. The project was an experiment around “improving the communal kitchen experience.” The Smart Apron uses 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.

Read on and watch the video


DIY Tweeting Weather Station

An Arduino-controlled weather monitoring system that is easily programmed, has the ability to add-on sensors including temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. The data to be recorded or shared via its USB output, or wirelessly with an optional XBee or Bluetooth module.

Read on


The Cat Doorbell by Don Schleede

This doorbell that sends an SMS text message to your when your cat approaches the door. Created with an outdoor device that detects when a cat (or anything else) is at the door.

Read on


Do you have an XBee project you would like featured in the XBee Project Gallery? You can submit your own or someone else’s project here.

Make Your Own with the XIG: The Cat Doorbell

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About the author: Don Schleede currently manages the iDigi security office. Don has worked in the IT field for 25 years. He has served as a Chief Technology Officer for 12 years in mid-sized level financial and technical companies. For the last 7 years, he has exclusively served in security roles as a Senior Security Analyst, Engineer, and Architect. Don holds a number of certifications such as the CISSP, MCSE, RHCE, CCNP, CEH and others. Today, he works in at Digi International, where his love of embedded things, microcontrollers and security can be expressed.

Why a Cat Doorbell? 
Recently, a friend of mine moved. This friend has a few cats who like to go outside. Because of their new surroundings, we weren’t sure that the cats would know where to return to. One night, all the cats except for one came back home. While the cats have been trained to come in when they hear a whistle, this cat must have been out of whistle range– doing whatever cats do. It was getting to be a cold night so we were worried. We did notice that the cats would stand at the door when they were ready to come in, but of course, we would have to see them standing at the door and open it for them. In the morning, we found one cold kitty waiting at the door. No major harm, but we felt guilty for not letting the cat in– the idea of the Cat Doorbell was born.

Here’s how I made the Cat Doorbell and how you can make your own. 

I didn’t want to get too in depth and design our own board for this project, so I used standard parts that I had around. Here’s what I picked from my supplies:

This was assembled as a prototype. For longer term operation, I would suggest mounting things better, and using a level converter for the data pins.

1.  First, I wired up the PIR sensor to the end of the box. The PIR sensor fit perfectly where the waterproof Cat-5 connector was, so I added some crazy glue. I connected the GND and 5V lines to the Arduino, and I connected the sensor line directly to the Arduino, pin 7.

2. I glued the Piezo to the bottom of the box, and I soldered in a 1Kohm resistor in series and plugged it into the Arduino, pin 8.

3. I used some pins to solder the XBee Series 2, which was already programmed with a XIG configuration to the 3.3v and GND lines.

4. Next, I connected the data lines to the Arduino pins 5 and 6. I have heard that the data lines of the XBee Series 2 are not 5v tolerant, but I know many people who have connected these to Arduinos without a problem. For more information, see Rob Faludi’s web page at http://www.faludi.com/bwsn/xbee-level-shifting

5. With some double side tape, I taped the XBee to the side.

6. With the XBee using the XIG, I have a Digi ConnectPort X4 gateway in my house. I loaded the XIG code onto the gateway and validated that the communication works with the XBee. You can find more information on the XIG project here.

7. Next I programmed the Arduino, the program follows this flow:

  • Look for activity on the PIR sensor
  • Send a URL string to the XBee (is used the SoftSerial library)
  • Beep the Piezo like a doorbell
  • Wait 60 seconds. Don’t want multiple activations.
  • Go back to step 1

The URL that was called went to a server that is hosted at Rackspace. The URL is actually a PHP web page, that will interface to SMS to my cellphone (via email). After testing and validating, I put the device outside so it would detect when a cat (or anything else) is at the back door. To call this complete, I waited for a bit for one of the cats to come back. And, sure enough, I got an SMS message on my phone. I went and opened the door and a cat proudly walked in.

Have questions or comments about the Cat Doorbell? Let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter. As I iterate the Cat Doorbell I’ll continue to update this post.