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Digi Visits Munich for Electronica 2014

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Last week Digi attended electronica 2014 in Munich, Germany– and it was a busy one. We unveiled the brand new XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit as well as our global distribution agreement with Mouser.  The event was a great opportunity to connect with some of the top minds in the industry as well as our partners and customers from around the globe.

We also shared three brand new demos!

One uses the ConnectCore 6 SBC to drive multiple high-definition displays. The other two demos feature XBee connected to the cloud. We built a street lighting demo to show how cities are using XBee and cloud control to make street lighting more energy efficient. Also on hand was an example cloud-based application built with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and the sensors on the kit’s development board.

All of our demos from the show and more can be seen in the pictures below.

 

As always, check out Digi events page for more info about which events you can find Digi at in the coming months. To learn more about the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit, click here.

Let Your Imagination Run Wireless with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit: Your Idea Deserves a Prototype

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Automated homes, drones, interactive art installations– XBee can be found nearly anywhere. And, more and more devices are using XBee to connect to the cloud. Connecting a device to the Internet should be simple, that’s why we built the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit. XBee_Dev_Board_w_XBeeWith an XBee ZB module and an XBee Gateway, it’s easy to connect your robot, vehicle, sensors, or anything else to the Internet.

Maybe you want to build a mesh network to monitor the health of your garden or perhaps, you have a top secret idea for your business, but you’re unsure where to start. Here are a few examples to help familiarize yourself with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and go from idea to prototype and transform your imagination into reality:

3 Simple XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit Examples

Potentiometer
Potentiometer’s are ubiquitous when it comes to building with electronics and they make great starting point when familiarizing yourself with new technology. Here, we’ll connect this analog input to the cloud, so you can view the values on your Heroku-hosted dashboard. Potentiometers can be used for setting a level, determining an angle or just as a simple user interface adjustment. Nicknamed “pots,” these components are variable resistors. With a simple twist you can alter the amount of voltage that flows out through their center pin.

Push Button
Want to control the light in your room from where you’re sitting? If you answered yes, this example is a great place to start with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit. Remote control of a button is perfect for projects that require user input, or anyplace you need to detect a change in device state. One you’ve built your circuit, you’ll be able to view the status of the button and control it from your web interface.photo (17)

Temperature 
Temperature monitoring is another great starting point with analog sensing. In this example we use everyone’s favorite temperature sensor, the TMP36 low-voltage linear sensor, which is included with your kit. After you’ve built this simple circuit, you can view the temperature on the dashboard.

Let’s Get Started
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what is possible with this new XBee kit. You can find all of these examples and more here, and check out the XBee Gallery to find what others have built with XBee.

Interested in getting an XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit? Head over here.

XBee Tech Tip: Connecting to the IoT with XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit

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This Tech Tip is brought to you by Digi Applications Engineer Mark Grierson, who will take you through the steps to connect an XBee Smart Plug to the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and manage it from the XBeegateway.herokuapp.com web application.

The XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit is the easiest way to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). It features a sample web application that lets users remotely activate various outputs on the development board including LEDs, a vibration motor, a bar graph gauge and an audio buzzer.

In addition, users can build their own circuits on the development board to sense temperature or light, switch on and off other devices via a relay, turn on and off additional LEDs and more. The web application code is open-source, available for anyone to download and use as a learning tool.

The purpose of this article is not to teach you how to set up and use the kit. There is an excellent online user’s guide that will step you through that process found here. http://ftp1.digi.com/support/documentation/html/90001399/90001399_A/Files/kit-getting-started.html

This article assumes that you have set up the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit and have followed the instructions in the getting started guide.

Using the XBee Smart Plug with the New XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit

Now that you have seen how easy it is to web enable just about any device, you may be wondering about Digi’s boxed ZigBee devices such as the XBee Smart Plug, XBee Sensors, AIO and DIO adapters, etc. Can you use these devices with the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit? Absolutely!

1)     Introduction

Using the XBee Smart Plug is an easy way to intelligently monitor and control connected electrical devices. This example uses the XBee Smart Plug and allows you to control the AC relay as well as read and monitor the AC current sensor, the Temperature Sensor and the Light Sensor.

The three sensors generate voltage outputs that are passed to the XBee’s analog-to-digital converter (ADC). These readings are then sent via Device Cloud to the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit’s online dashboard application where you can control and monitor the XBee Smart Plug right in your web browser.xbeegateway1-259x300

2)     Assemble the Parts

To complete this exercise you’ll need:

1 – XBee Gateway

1 – XBee Smart Plug

1 – Device Cloud Accountxbeegateway2-300x300

 

3)     Connect the XBee Smart Plug to the Gateway and Configure

You’ll need to ensure the XBee Smart Plug is connected to your XBee Gateway. If your XBee Smart Plug is new and has not connected to a ZigBee network, this should be as simple as plugging it in while the XBee Gateway is powered up.xbeegate3-201x300

The Green Association (ASSC) light will flash once the XBee Smart Plug has joined a network.

You can then go to the XBee Network tab in the configuration section of the Gateway’s web UI to ensure the smart plug has joined.

deviceconfic1

If the XBee Smart Plug does not show up, click on the “Discover XBee Devices” button to have the XBee Gateway perform a network discovery. If the XBee Smart Plug still does not show up and the ASSC light is flashing on the XBee Smart Plug, this means that the XBee Smart Plug has joined another ZigBee network and must be reset using a 4-button press of the Reset button. Consecutive button presses must occur within 800 milliseconds of each other for the reset to occur.

xbeegateway4

When the reset is successful, the ASSC light will go steady as the XBee Smart Plug looks for a new network to join and will flash again once it joins. Return to the Gateway web UI and click discover to see the XBee Smart Plug is now joined to the XBee Gateway.

Once the XBee Smart Plug has joined the XBee Gateway, configure it by clicking on the extended address of the Smart plug.

deviceconfig2

After a few seconds, the settings of the XBee Smart Plug will be displayed. Click on the Input/Output settings tab and:

  1. Check the Detect box for D4 (D4 is used to toggle the AC outlet)
  2. Ensure that the IR parameter is set to 5000ms
  3. Click the Apply button to save changes 

deviceconfig3

4) View It!

You will use the XBee Wi-Fi Cloud Kit’s web application to configure three widgets for viewing the temperature current and light readings from your sensor. You will also configure a widget to control the AC relay.

Log in to the XBee ZigBee Cloud Kit web application: https://xbeegateway.herokuapp.com/#/login

dcscreen342

The Outlet Widget

First we will create the outlet control widget.

Use the Add Widget button to create a new display widget.

dcwidget

Choose On/Off Switch Widget for the widget type.

Add a label such as “XBee Smart Plug Outlet.”

Choose your XBee Gateway and module by selecting their ID.

Select DIO4 as the output stream and check the device configuration to make sure it is configured properly. Your screen should look like the following.

createnewwidget

Save the changes to see your new Widget on the home screen.

You should now be able to turn the XBee Smart Plug AC outlet on and off using the widget.

The Current Draw Meter Widget

Next we will createa widget to measure the current draw on the XBee Smart Plug. The concepts used to build this widget are the same for the light meter and temp sensor built into the XBee Smart Plug. Only the Input stream and transform will be different.

Use the Add Widget button to create a new display widget.

dcwidget

Choose Gauge Widget for the widget type.

Add a label such as “Current Draw.”

Choose your XBee Gateway and module by selecting their ID.

Select AD3 as the Input Stream and check the device configuration to make sure it is configured properly.

Enter the following formula into the Input Transform:

Enter “((((value/1024)*1200)*(156/47)-520)/180*0.7071)*1000″ into the Input Transform to transform the input from millivolts to milliamps. The formula in brackets converts the millivolt reading into AMPS. The herokuapp application is constrained to whole numbers and will convert a decimal result to the nearest whole number. To make this data more meaningful, we then multiply this value by 1000 to convert to milliamps. The following knowledgebase article is the source for this info: http://www.digi.com/support/kbase/kbaseresultdetl?id=3522#Adapters

Enter mA into the Units field.

Enter 0 for the Low value and 8000 into the High value (the XBee Smart Plug is only rated for loads up to 8 amps).

You screen should look like the following:

widgetsettings

Save the changes to see your new Widget on the home screen.

The Temperature and Light widgets are made using the same procedure as the Current widget with a few small changes.

For the Light Widget use the following:

Label=Light Meter

Input Stream=AD1

Input Transform=(value/1024) * 1200

Units=Lux

Low Value=0

High Value=1000

lightmeter

For the Temperature Widget use the following:

Label=Temperature

Input Stream=AD2

Input Transform= (((((value/1024)*1200)-500)/10)*1.8)+32 for Fahrenheit

= (((value/1024)*1200)-500)/10 for Celcius

Units=Fahrenheit or Celcius

Low Value=0

High Value=150

5) Use It!

Now you can use the XBee Smart Plug to control any AC appliance up to 8 Amps! Additionally, you can monitor the amperage being used along with the Ambient light and temperature around the XBee Smart Plug.

In my screenshot below, I have a 60 watt lamp connected to the XBee Smart Plug.

widget dashboard

Using a variation of Ohms law “P=VxI” we can see that this 60 watt bulb should draw about 500 milliamps at 120 volts. 60W/120V=.5Amps or 500 mA. My meter is showing 494 mA, which is just about right on! Feel free to try other widget types. Use a Bar Graph or Line Graph instead of a Gauge widget.

Now that you have completed this exercise, use what you have learned to add the XBee LTH Sensor, Wall Router or Analog Adapter.The formulas you will need for the transform can be found in this article: http://www.digi.com/support/kbase/kbaseresultdetl?id=3522#Adapters

Look What I Made: XBee Project Updates

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We are always finding amazing XBee projects. From robots, to rockets, to gardens–the creativity of XBee makers is endless. We have some new additions to the XBee Project Gallery and wanted to share them with you.  Let us know your favorite!

XBeeGallery

Wireless Firework Control System
It’s safe to say this is the most explosive project in the gallery. This wireless system allows you to control the launching of fireworks from a control unit that has 200 channels.

CanSat Solar Powered Data Collection
A team of student engineers from Guatemala needed a way to send data between a flying a rocket and a base station located on the ground. The rocket contained a payload, which collects sensor data as it falls back to the ground. What makes this project truly amazing is the fact that the whole system is solar powered!

Animatronic Ironman Suit
Yes, someone has made a full-scale replica of Ironman. No, it does not fly. You can find XBee inside the suit’s helmet. Wiring was used throughout the replica, but the designer ran into a problem when he needed to create a wireless helmet, so it would be easy to take on and off. There’s even a video of the suit in action.

Wireless Controlled Hand
Gabry built this for his final high school project. It consists of XBee and an Arduino Lilypad. The user puts on a glove and as they move their hand another robotic hand mimics the motion of the user.

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.

One Small Step for XBee, One Giant Leap for Wireless

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This winter, Soarex, a NASA sounding rocket, will be launched into space with XBee on-board.  The three-node network is the first XBee ZigBee network to go to space. The rocket will fly roughly 200 miles above earth to test a new parachute-like technology called an exo-brake. Exo-brakes are used to safely return samples from the Earth’s orbit as well as land spacecrafts on other planets that with much thinner atmospheres than Earth.

2
Typically the devices that collect samples are connected with wiring. The team chose to move away from traditional wiring and experiment with a wireless network for a number of reasons. For one, less cabling on the spacecraft means less weight, which reduces the amount of fuel needed. Another important feature is the ability to relay this data back down to earth via an Iridium satellite. The Soarex will monitor six different acceleration parameters as well as temperature and air pressure.

This wireless network is part of an effort by NASA to test the performance of wireless on a spacecraft and determine if it will be suitable for other applications. Due to the high cost associated with launching a rocket, the team must be extremely conservative when implementing new technology. Once the network performs multiple successful trials, the team will incorporate XBee into more and more vital missions.

When NASA chooses to experiment with new technology, the initial budget is relatively small, so the engineers went with off-the-shelf components to build out the network. The team is working with Digi’s XBee ZB modules, Arduino microcontrollers, and Sparkfun’s XBee adapter shields.  If the trial run is a hit, they’ll work to build a more customized solution– one that might even feature the XBee Plus!

Soarex will launch with XBee in January 2015. We’ll share some more information and let you know how it goes, so check back in! Until then, check out this video to get an idea of the wild ride XBee will be taking.

XBee Visits World Maker Faire New York 2014

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Maker Faire is one of our favorite events of the year. We get to meet everyone that’s making with XBee, introduce others that may not be familiar, and see amazing projects like giant robotic giraffes and connected motorcycles. We’ve got tons of pictures to share with you from what was a great event.

XBee Projects

And if you stopped by our booth and looking to build any of the demos we had on display, visit examples.digi.com for instructions. Or if you’ve built a project with XBee, be sure to submit it to the XBee Gallery.

Thanks again to everyone that stopped by to hangout with us. Have photos or videos from Maker Faire that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter!

A Simpler and More Intelligent Internet of Things with Digi and Temboo

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The ongoing drought in the western United States underscores the importance of maintaining and conserving a reliable supply of fresh water—whether for drinking, irrigation, fire control or manufacturing, reliable water storage is essential. Of course, half the battle in maintaining a water supply is managing it: once a tank system has been installed and filled, water must be properly distributed when it is needed and retained when it is not. If tanks are remote and many are spread over a wide area, monitoring them can become a costly and time-consuming obligation.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 12.03.09 PMThese are the sorts of challenges that Digi and Temboo are overcoming by building a more intelligent Internet of Things. A network of Digi hardware running Temboo Choreos is flexible and smart—devices can be programmed to execute a wide variety of processes, and be reprogrammed without being interrupted. This is a solution that combines ease of automation with the trustworthiness of manual control. To illustrate the solution’s benefits, and demonstrate how the whole system works, we’ve built a model of the water tank problem. This system puts Temboo and Digi to work, keeping water levels right where they ought to be.

Our tank monitoring solution uses an XBee ZigBee radio to wirelessly exchange sensor information and remote control commands using Digi’s new XBee Gateway, a programmable device that joins ZigBee mesh networks to the Internet. A small Temboo client written in Python is installed on the XBee Gateway, allowing it to connect to over one hundred different web services using Temboo Choreos. With Temboo, the memory constraints of the small devices in the network cease to be an obstacle to intelligent behavior, as much of the code required to execute complex processes is offloaded to the cloud.

In our model, a sensor attached to the XBee radio monitors the water level of our tank, and sends those readings to the XBee Gateway. If the tank leaks and the water level falls, a response is triggered on the gateway. First, the gateway uses Temboo’s Yahoo Weather Choreos to check the forecast for rain. Temboo’s Nexmo Choreos are then used to telephone the relevant individual with an automated voice message that gives a real time rain forecast and offers a choice of actions to take by entering a number on the phone’s keypad.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 11.56.33 AMIf a storm is on its way, there is an option to ignore the alert. If the leakage does not need to be urgently addressed, there is an option to schedule a maintenance event for the future, which the Temboo program on the gateway handles via a Google Calendar Choreo . If the situation is urgent, however, there is another option to activate a backup pump at a different point in the XBee network and refill the tank.  Of course, all of this will only work properly if the sensor and gateway are powered on and functioning, so our system needs to be prepared for any loss of connectivity—if, for any reason, transmission of the level of water in the tank stops, another Temboo Choreo will file a Zendesk ticket to alert support that the system needs attention.

The most exciting thing about this model, however, is that it is only a small example of a massively scalable system. XBee technology can connect hundreds of different devices in a much larger network, and Temboo’s Library contains over two thousand other Choreos that can be used to execute an immense variety of tasks. Modifying the behavior of the Temboo program on the gateway to, for example, switch notification services is just a matter of changing Choreos, a simple task.  Digi’s hardware and Temboo’s software are coming together to build a lighter, smarter and much easier to use Internet of Things.

Demo created using:

Are you using Temboo or XBee in your Internet of Things application? You can share how you’re using wireless technology by tweeting us at @XBeeWireless and @Temboo.

Bar Graphs, Security Systems, and GPS… All with XBee!

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Here are a few more wireless projects you can build with some sensors, Arduino and XBee. Below are project descriptions and links to instructions that will walk you through each step, including example code. Feel free to get creative and put your own spin on these projects!

Wireless Bar Graph Display
Want to monitor the level of light in a room and reflect that data with a shiny LED bar graph? Then check out  this project, which uses an MBed microcontroller, light sensor, LED bar graph, and a pair of XBee radios to get you going on monitoring brightness without even being there. Complete instructions here.

Security Monitor
Let’s build a comprehensive security system! The motion sensor detects when a person passes by and alerts you by displaying a warning on an LCD screen and you can even be alerted with an audio message. For this project, you’ll need an Arduino and XBee radio. After all, Arduino and XBee are best friends in the electrical engineering world! Why else would an XBee shield exist? Complete instructions here.

Device Cloud GPS
Want to track the GPS coordinates of the RC vehicle you’re working on? Well, it’s simple with an XBee gateway, Arduino and Device Cloud. Complete instructions here.

Check out examples.digi.com for more projects. There, you can browse tutorials for beginner, intermediate, and even experienced XBee developers. Once you’re done building, feel free to share them with us on TwitterFacebook, or Google+ using the #XBee hashtag. Happy building!