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A Better Way to Build Your Next Project: XBee Hardware Tools

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The open source movement and strong maker community has led to the creation of a number platforms that give developers a quick and efficient way to create a proof of concept, prototype, or even a final product. Here a few especially handy hardware platforms for developing XBee projects that we think you might find helpful.

The Waspmote is a sensor mote that gives developers a simple way to create wireless sensor networks connected over XBee. The mote supports all the same network topologies as XBee, so it is possible to create complex mesh networks as well as simple point to point communications. In addition to network flexibility, the motes primary feature is reduced power consumption, which makes it ideal for sensors running on battery.waspmote_mote_runner_24 (1)

What makes the Waspmote especially awesome is the fact that Libelium has developed their own sensor boards that plug directly into the Waspmote–eliminating the need to solder anything or dust off your box of breadboards and jumper wires. They have industry specific sensors boards that are equipped with the sensors needed for a specific applications like Smart Water, Agriculture, Smart Cities, among many others. Visit the Libelium home page to learn more about the Waspmote.

Arduino FIO
The Arduino FIO board was created by Shigeru Kobayashi and SparkFun Electronics in an effort to simplify the process of making a wireless Arduino project. With connections for a LiPo battery and an XBee socket right on board, the board has everything you need to create anything from a lightning sensor to a programmable swarm of robots.

arduino fioPerhaps the most useful feature of the FIO board is the ability to upload sketches wirelessly. Gone are the days of completely tearing down your project so that you can plug it into your computer! Check out this information guide for information on programming Arduino over XBee.

Apitronics is an open platform that enables farmers to collect sensor data via connected sensors deployed throughout farms, greenhouses, and gardens. The data is collected from remote nodes placed around the farm and is aggregated at a central hub. The data can be accessed at a local web page and helps farmers monitor environmental conditions, which allows them to make more informed management decisions.apitronics

With less than 10% of farms using sensors today, the goal is to give small and mid-sized farmers the tools necessary to gather quantitative data–reducing waste and maximizing crop yields. But this platform isn’t just for those with a farming day job, this can be used to monitor your backyard gardens as well! Visit Apitronics website to learn more about their open source agricultural efforts.

Taking your prototype to production is an issue many start-ups and design teams struggle with. As Arduino has become nearly synonymous with the word prototype, engineers are increasingly in need of an efficient way to turn their Arduino based prototype into a scalable product. DuinoPRO is aimed at the lean start-up community or anyone looking to leverage the highly supported Arduino platform to create a prototype they plan to scale to relatively large volumes in a surface mount facility.

duinoproMaybe we Missed Your Favorite?
Did we miss one of your favorite XBee development tools? Never fear. Just leave a comment below or let us know on Twitter at @XBeeWireless and we will add it to the post!

Where Will You Use Your XBee?

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Around the world, XBee RF wireless modules are extending the reach of wireless technology. They can be found anywhere — streetlights, homes, power plants, forests — the possibilities are endless. Check out some of the real-world applications in the video below.

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Here are just a few other interesting XBee projects

Garage Siren in Mongolia

Battushig Myanganbayar is a brilliant 16 year old from Mongolia with a talent for building electronics with a purpose. His work with XBees has even been featured in the New York Times. His goal was to keep the younger children in the neighborhood safe. To do this, he has developed a wireless alarm system. Children often play along the street where cars frequently pass by while leaving or entering the garage. Whenever a car is going to or from the apartment’s garage and a child is in harm’s way, Battushig’s alarm will emit a high frequency sound and flash a bright red light. This ensures that children are still able to continue playing outside all while being safe.

Detecting Forest Fires in Spain

XBees are also used in the well-known Waspmote by Libelium. They needed both long range connections and the ability to connect wireless networks of varying frequencies. The exceptional range of XBee made it ideal for the large deployments needed to monitor forest fires, agriculture, and floods. The Waspmote can use infrared and ultraviolet sensors to detect flames as well as the release of compounds CO and CO2 that are abundant during combustion. Libelium is also able to adjust the networking protocol, so whether they need to use 802.15.4 or ZigBee, they can adjust accordingly with XBee.

Monitoring Road Conditions in Norway

A Sweden based company, Mowic, has developed a wireless network to monitor road conditions and improve driver safety. The network, called TrackIce, uses a DigiMesh network to establish long range and low powered communication between sensors. The same network will be adapted to monitor airports, ski resorts, and hydro-electric power plants. Read more about the TrackIce network here.


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.