You might remember our post about the XBee product turned Indiegogo superstar last year–Plexidrone. Well, there’s another XBee related Indiegogo campaign making headlines. Tinylab is a prototyping platform, developed by Bosphorus Mechatronics, simplifying IoT development with an all-in-one Arduino-based solution.
Tinylab reduces the need to stack multiple Arduino shields, pull out the breadboard and jumper wires, or hunt down that spare LTH sensor in your drawer. This flexible and extensive development board supports Arduino and other development environments, hosts 20 Digital I/O, and additional sensors come pre-attached. And, perhaps most exciting, is the support for a number of wireless technologies like XBee, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi with the ESP8266 chip as seen in the graphic below.
The Indiegogo campaign got off to a great start and Bosphorus Mechatronics quickly exceeded their goal of $25,000. The crew is shipping development kits to their campaign supporters in May and one level of support will even earn contributors a development kit that includes XBee RF modules.
Also, to demonstrate the board’s capabilities, the team at Tinylab created an wireless lighting demo. The video is showing wireless control of a lightbulb with commands sent over XBee. Check out the video below.
A new version of everyone’s favorite XBee configuration software, XCTU, is here! Among a few small updates like a refreshed look and feel, UI enhancements, and minor bug fixes, the XBee team has introduced three brand new features to the software. Here’s a look at what you’ll find in XCTU 6.3.
Command Line Interface Support
New to XCTU is Command Line Interface (CLI) Support. Now, users can execute the application in CLI mode without the graphic interface. This is primarily useful for scripting and automation purposes when managing large scale XBee deployments. The following features are supported within CLI mode:
List ports – A list of serial and USB ports can be retrieved in
command line mode.
Update firmware – Firmware of any radio device can be updated in this
Load profile – Now it is possible to load profiles to connected
devices through the CLI of XCTU.
From within the XCTU interface, users can test and measure the spectrum of the radio’s band. The analysis displays average, maximum, and minimum values of each channel. This is helpful to determine which channel to set your XBee radios to and troubleshoot network issues.
With the Throughput Tool users can measure the maximum transfer ratio from one radio module to another within the same network. The tool provides three session modes and several payload configuration options to test different combinations and understand the performance of your wireless network.
XCTU 6.3 features a brand new Spectrum Analyzer tool. This makes it possible to measure and test the spectrum using only an XBee radio. The tool generates a report of the noise level for each channel within the radio’s frequency band. With these data points, XBee users can select the optimal channel for their XBee network and troubleshoot network issues.
In this XBee Tech Tip, we’ll take a look at how to run the Spectrum Analyzer tool. Below is a quick screencast that takes you through adding the XBee device to XCTU to running a spectrum analysis and sorting through the data points collected. The video is followed with more information on the tool such as configuring the test and analyzing the network noise levels.
To get started, first access the tool by selecting it from the Tools drop down menu.
Device selection The first section of the tool contains the device selection control populated with the devices that you have added to XCTU. Select the radio module you want to use to perform the analysis.
Analysis Configuration The analysis configuration panel is located next to the device selection control. This section allows you to configure the spectrum analysis process:
This is the list of available settings:
Sampling interval (ms): Determines the time to wait in milliseconds before reading a new noise level sample of the RF channels.
Number of samples: Check this option to configure the number of samples to read in the spectrum analysis session.
Loop infinitely: Check this option to read samples infinitely until the spectrum analysis session is stopped manually.
When you have configured all the options, click Start Spectrum Analysis button to start reading samples and measure the noise level of each RF channel. You can manually stop the analysis at any time by pressing the same button, now displaying the text Stop Spectrum Analysis.
When an analysis is started, the chart and channels list are filled with all the RF channels supported by the selected device. Note: the list of supported channels may vary depending on the device type and device region.
This chart represents the noise level of all the RF channels. Each channel displays 1 bar with the current noise level and two tick marks representing the maximum noise level (green) and the minimum one (red).
A blue line is also added to the chart indicating the average noise level of all channels. The spectrum analysis refreshes the noise levels of each channel continuously until the analysis ends or it is stopped.
Along the bottom of the chart, users can filter to hide or display the bars, the max and min noise values and the average noise level line.
Once the spectrum analysis reaches the specified number of samples or is stopped, you can click on each channel to get specific values (seen above). This control displays the current noise level of a channel as well as its average, maximum and minimum noise level.
The Spectrum Analyzer feature supports Digi radios with the following protocols:
ZigBee (S2C Modules)
What do you want to learn next?
We hope you found this tutorial helpful! Let us know what you’d like to learn in the next XBee Tech Tip: http://bit.ly/xbeetechtip
Managing a widely distributed network of greenhouses can be a costly endeavor with the constant monitoring and adjusting required to maintain optimum growing conditions. That’s why greenhouse farmers and plant growers are turning to technology to monitor and automate their crops.
As proof of this evolution, a fully internet-connected greenhouse was on display at this year’s Intel Developer Forum (IDF15).
Using an Intel IoT Gateway, the wireless systems turns daily farming data into a more meaningful decision-making. Sensors for temperature, humidity, pH, and luminosity in the greenhouse pass the data to the local Galileo gateway. Galileo transmits data using XBee to an Atom processor-based gateway, and then uploads all the information to the cloud system.
The UI for this sensor network visualizes the data collected and provides a menu to configure the greenhouse’s settings.
Jon Noh had been working on a wearable device to make work around the farm safer. After hearing about an accident involving a fellow farmer, he sped up development and finished the project. The device is essentially a kill-switch so if a farmer is caught he can immediately turn off the sweep auger and avoid serious injury.
“The sweep auger motor plugs directly into an outlet on the receiving box. This receiving box and transmitter each have an XBee wireless transceiver inside. When the remote control is powered on, the first LED lights up. When the safety cord is connected, the second LED lights up. At this point, the sweep auger is off.
If the start/stop push button is pressed, the XBee radio in the transmitter signals the XBee in the receiving box to turn on the motor starter and power up the sweep auger. If the safety cord is pulled, the sweep auger shuts down. (The start/stop button needs to be pressed again to power it after the safety cord is put back on.) Pressing the start/stop button also stops the auger if it is running.
Grove modules are quickly growing in popularity due to each sensor and actuator having the same standardized connector — making it fast and easy to prototype a sensor project.
In the words of Seeed Studio, “Grove is a modulated, ready-to-use tool set. Much like Lego, it takes a building block approach to assembling electronics. Compared with the traditional, complicated learning method of using a breadboard and various electronic components to assemble a project, Grove simplifies and condenses the learning process significantly. The Grove system consists of a base shield and various modules with standardized connectors.”
What makes Grove devices so simple is that the connectors eliminate the need to break out the breadboard, resistors, jumper wires, etc.. The connection is a 4-pin interface that supports digital, analog, I2C signal through four wires with different colors.
Red is for VCC
Black is for GND,
Yellow is for signal
White is for others.
Since XBee is used frequently in wireless sensor networks, we included six Grove connectors on the new XBee Grove Development Board. You can use it to quickly evaluate XBee and Grove modules with a PC or microcontroller.
We have included two XBee Grove Adapter Boards in the Wireless Connectivity Kit. If you’re interested in how this might help you build wireless sensor networks, we have this graphic that offers an overview of the board and its connections.
Rob Faludi, Digi’s Chief Innovator, was onsite for the launch of the first XBee network into space. The successful test of the wireless sensor network took place at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch is part of NASA’s effort to determine the effectiveness of Exo-Brake technology and introduce wireless technology into their designs. As this was the first XBee network to reach space, we had to capture it on video.
Learn more about the experiment and see photos in these related posts:
Did you know NASA’s XBee network that was deployed 200 miles above Earth was constructed completely out of off-the-shelf components?
As part of a NASA initiative to efficiently experiment with new ideas and technologies, the development team created their entire network out of commercial off-the-shelf components. Using devices like Arduino and XBee, the engineering team was able to create a network to reliably gather critical data on Exo-Brake technology.
An Arduino Mega processed data and acted as the gateway’s engine, which connected the local XBee network to the long-range Iridium satellite uplink. As seen in the diagram above, the gateway was placed within the payload of the Exo-Brake and gathered sensor data from three XBees-3-axis acceleration, temperature and pressure. Data was then sent back down to mission control for analysis.
You can read more about the launch at these links: