Home/ Machine Talk Blog

Digi XBee3: Go Smaller, Run Longer

Posted on: No Comments

The new Digi XBee3 smart modules offer reduced size and weight with increased battery life in plenty of options, all from a reliable partner you can trust. These let Digi XBee3 go smaller, run longer and work smarter while retaining rock-solid stability. It’s perfect for IoT devices that need to be compact, mobile and ultra-efficient.

Digi XBee3 can fit almost anywhere. With a new Micro SMT footprint of just 13mm x 19mm it occupies less than a third of the original XBee form factor. To maintain full compatibility, it is also available in the original Digi XBee through-hole and surface-mount packages, so that even customers who integrated Digi XBee when it first came out can continue to source components that fit their original PCBs. Choose between three standard form factors:

  • Through-hole for maximum flexibility & third-party socket compatibility
  • SMT standard-size for lower cost, greater I/O and backwards-compatible footprint
  • Micro for lowest size, weight and cost to support mobility and maximize ROI

Size, Weight, & Power

Digi XBee3 supports three different antenna types so that you can choose the right solution for your project. Need maximum simplicity? Choose an onboard chip antenna that requires no additional components and works great from inside a non-metallic enclosure. Should you need greater flexibility in positioning your antenna, choose a standard U.FL connector that supports a slew of external and specialty antennas, especially useful if your device lives in a metal box. Finally, if you are creating a PCB trace antenna or simply want an antenna connector someplace else, there’s the RF pad option that enables routing antenna signal to anywhere on your circuit board. Digi XBee3 offers a wide range of alternatives in a tiny package.

Going small means going mobile, and going mobile usually means taking power with you in the form of a battery. You’ll want this battery to be pretty tiny too, and that creates a challenge. Smaller batteries have less capacity, and therefore require more frequent recharging or replacement unless power is properly controlled. Digi helps you meet this challenge with lots of options for managing power to ensure that even small batteries can have long lives. In simple solutions where power is not constrained your Digi XBee3 can remain active all the time. However, when running with a limited power budget it’s most effective to put the device to “sleep” so that it can minimize power use during the downtime. Digi XBee3 supports an external sleep control so that a host device can put the Digi XBee3 to sleep when it’s not needed and wake it when it is. An internal cyclic sleep timer is also available when there’s no host device, like for simple sensor applications that wake every few minutes to transmit a new reading then going back to sleep. Finally, the business rules engine in MicroPython can create programmatic power control for extra, application-specific savings. Most protocols offered on Digi XBee3 also support different levels of sleep, from a deep sleep that uses almost no energy to lighter sleep modes when faster wake times are required. Digi XBee3 knows that getting good sleep is a key to staying smart.

Digi XBee3 Use Case

18.8 million people live with diabetes and many want their doctor to effectively monitor their blood glucose levels without losing any of their independence. They need a blood glucose monitor that is remotely accessible anytime, anywhere. Naturally they’d like it to be lightweight and portable with terrific battery life.

Digi XBee3 has everything required. The module’s smart size and feather weight helps match the glucose monitor to active lifestyles. Power management from the XBee3 ensures it only uses what’s absolutely necessary—extending the period between recharges without degrading the user’s experience. Digi XBee3 enhanced portable and wearable medical devices have the power to send automated updates, notifications and alerts to medical professionals or patients’ loved ones as their health status changes. These solutions empower patients to preventatively monitor their health and improve their overall quality of life while providing peace of mind for their loved ones. Doctors also benefit by making better decisions when patient data is easily and securely accessible in real-time. By fitting in a pocket and needing only infrequent charging, the Digi XBee3-enabled glucose monitor pleases patients and improves their outcomes while reducing overall costs.

This is just one of many ways that Digi XBee3’s small size, power savings and implementation flexibility helps create solutions that are reliable, cost-effective and smart.

>>Want to try these smarts on for size? Here is a ZigBee Mesh Kit to get you started.

 

Sum of Smarts Featuring: Modularity and Programmability

Posted on:

Digi XBee3™ IoT modules go straight to the head of the class. One reason is outstanding flexibility. A single socket allows you to connect with IoT networks around the globe. Digi XBee3 pin-compatible footprints support multiple protocols and unified command frameworks while retaining superior implementation flexibility. As new protocols emerge, Digi XBee3 series will offer them using these same pin-outs, future-proofing your designs. Digi XBee3 also features programmable on-board intelligence. By creating applications on your Digi XBee3 using its MicroPython framework, you can implement business rules for money-saving solutions like intelligent bandwidth control, dynamic power conservation or full outage management. New behaviors can be dynamically implemented over the air so as your business changes, your solution can rise to meet the challenge.

Modularity

 
Protocols
Digi XBee3 currently lets you choose between eight different protocols, and easily change between them without learning new command frameworks, writing new code or even changing your board layout. They include:

  • 802.15.4 for point-to-multipoint local connections
  • ZigBee 3.0 for creating interoperable mesh networks
  • DigiMesh for fast, single-source mesh solutions
  • Cellular for gateway-free applications worldwide including:
    • 3G for legacy compatibility
    • LTE Cat 1 for modern connections
    • LTE-M for lower data needs and improved power management
    • NB-IoT when only minimal cellular bandwidth is required.

Plus, Bluetooth Low Energy is coming soon as a dual-mode add-on protocol for the entire Digi XBee3 line, enabling connections to external wireless sensors and smartphones.

Choice of Command Sets
Configure any way you like. Digi XBee3 offers four interchangeable methods for handling configurations, commands and communications. For easy access to the full configuration, all Digi XBee3 models support AT commands that can be issued from any serial terminal program. For structured interactions with microcontrollers and external devices, every Digi XBee3 supports a standard frame-based API that’s perfect for machine-to-machine transactions. Local configuration is made easy with the graphical user interface provided by Digi’s XCTU software, and remote configuration is enabled from the cloud using Digi Remote Manager. No matter which you choose, the command frameworks are all the same.

Unified Frameworks
All Digi XBee3 AT commands and API frames are standardized across all form factors and protocols. All commands work the same way across all modules, with protocol differences kept to a minimum so that changing between modules is as quick and transparent as possible.

Choice of Gateways
Certain protocols require gateways to connect to the Internet. Digi offers a variety of Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Cellular Digi XBee3 Gateways for use with XBee3 in both commercial and industrial-rated packages. Third party gateways can easily be developed around Digi’s ConnectCore® 6UL embedded platform, or using a custom platform of your own design.

 

 

Programmability

Modules in the Digi XBee3 series all run applications written in MicroPython, an embedded variant of the popular Python programming language. There are so many great reasons for intelligence at the edge:

  • Saving bandwidth costs by only sending useful data
  • Saving battery and replacement costs by using only the power that your application requires
  • Controlling local behaviors dynamically without the cost of unnecessary cloud connections
  • Managing directly connected sensors and actuators, to keep simple projects simple
  • Allowing devices to behave intelligently during communication outages
  • Caching data locally during network outages, then sending it immediately as soon as connectivity returns
  • Adapting to changing business needs by securely accepting new behaviors over the air
  • Testing and debugging deployed applications by dynamically modifying code over-the-air
  • Addressing host device problems from the cloud rather than paying for needless truck rolls

Programmability doesn’t live on its own of course, it takes an ecosystem. Digi XBee3 has the tools and resources you need including full documentation online, software development environments, sample code, example programs, training and open-source expandability. Let your imagination run wireless!

Use Case

How can programmability at the edge can make a difference in real-world IoT systems? Outdoor municipal street lighting is a perfect example. Street lights typically use considerable energy and government maintenance resources. Lights shine brightly all night, whether or not anyone is even in the area. When a streetlight malfunctions, repairs depend upon citizen reports, which may not occur for days or even months after an initial failure. This is a big problem, and just the type that can benefit from intelligence at the edge.

With Digi XBee3 wireless modules, the behaviors needed to improve energy use, reliability and safety can be installed right inside every streetlight. Apps running on each Digi XBee3 module can process motion sensor inputs and intelligently set that streetlight’s brightness accordingly. For example, while a street is unoccupied, lighting can be dimmed to 50%, then smoothly increased to 90% whenever a pedestrian or bicycle’s motion is detected. Since the application runs locally on Digi XBee3, no cloud communication or external microcontrollers are required. This improves reliability while keeping bandwidth and system costs low, at the same time saving so much energy that the system pays for itself. If a streetlight malfunctions, its neighbors can detect the outage locally and increase their own brightness to compensate. This level of safety can be maintained even through network outages, very important during major storms. Naturally the Digi XBee3 application will report outages to the cloud as soon as possible, so that maintenance can begin immediately. Municipalities can test out new ideas by loading upgraded application code to a subset of streetlights as a pilot, before deploying the new code to the entire city.

In this street lighting application, Digi XBee3’s programmability enables energy savings, improves customer service, maintains reliability and reduces maintenance costs while providing a clear path forward for innovation. It can revolutionize your systems in the same way.

>>Want to learn more? Check out this latest whitepaper Wireless Future: Partnering for What Comes Next

Tags:
Posted in XBee | Comments Off on Sum of Smarts Featuring: Modularity and Programmability

How to Choose the Right Antenna for Your IoT Application

Posted on:

Antennas come in many shapes and sizes, for many different uses. Some are attached externally to the product for the correct functionality, while others must be designed into the end device so it is both invisible and functional. For example, if you have a device enclosed in a metal box, like a router, your antenna is going to be connected externally. For a mobile device or wearable, however, you probably want a smaller antenna that is built into the internal design. The types of antennas for these different applications vary not only due to size and placement, but also properties and functionality.

In this post, we’ve provided an overview of the most prevalent antenna types and their common IoT applications. Note that most categories of antennas have several sub-types. Additionally, the topic of antennas can quickly get into deep technical detail and mathematical formulas, which is beyond the scope of this post. . If you need further assistance with your antenna selection, our Wireless Design Services team can help.

Topics in this blog

  1. Dipole Antennas
  2. Monopole Antennas
  3. Loop Antennas
  4. Helical Antennas
  5. Patch Antennas
  6. Slot Antennas

1) Dipole Antennas

Dipole antennas are omni-directional, which means they radiate signals in all directions on at least one plane. They are typically large since they are half wavelength structures. This amounts to about 6 inches in length for cellular antennas. These antennas are nearly always used externally, such as for metal box devices like routers and gateways. They may ship with the device or may need to be ordered separately.

Properties of Dipole Antennas

Dipole antennas are very efficient antennas with a consistent performance, omni-directional radiation pattern, and reliable polarization. A dipole antenna has a radiation pattern that is not dependent on the size of the box or the ground plane.  This is accomplished because the dipole has balanced currents on both antenna arms resulting in little current flow on the ground plane or chassis. The radiation pattern looks like a donut with most of the energy being emitted from the broadside of the antenna. The antenna isolates itself from the metal box (chassis), which acts as the ground plane.

Common Applications for Dipole Antennas

Use a dipole antenna when you need to talk in all directions (omni-directional) and don’t know the location of the receiving link. Common applications for dipole antennas include cellular and Wi-Fi applications; there are different dipole models for each of these communication types. (Dipole has limited bandwidth, so different lengths are required for difference frequency bands.) The dipole antenna will work well for an external antenna mounted on a metal enclosure, regardless of the enclosure size. Metal enclosures are very common with industrial applications in harsh environments and external antennas are a near certainty under these constraints. Also, due to their high efficiency and consistent radiation pattern, labs often use dipoles for reference antennas to calibrate antenna measurement systems.

5 Big Blockchain Concepts to Understand for IoT and Security Applications

Posted on:

Despite the popular belief, blockchain is not the universal remedy for security applications but its future potential to improve IoT security and robustness should not be discredited. During a recent depth Q&A IoT technology expert, Scott Nelson, and a Blockchain security expert, discussed the world of cyber security. Below are five facts to understand about Blockchain security:

  1. Private blockchains are unlikely to offer economic advantage over existing key-based secure databases.
  2. Blockchain works in trustless applications, but with the security comes transparency that can limit utility.
  3. Blockchain works well for data streams that do not change, e.g. time-based temperature and shock experience of a thing, but developers must remember that the robustness of the distributed ledger comes at the expense of flexibility.
  4. Proof-of-stake is more likely to be the right approach to managing a ledger for IoT due to the cost and complexity of proof-of-work used in cryptocurrencies.
  5. Authentication and authorization are not part of blockchain and have to be added and curated to implement a blockchain-based application. The promise of automated transactions from blockchain will only be realized with the addition of authentication and authorization techniques.

These are just 5 key considerations when evaluating Blockchain. Clearly blockchain is not the security panacea that one may perceive from the hype, but it also has some strong attributes that will be valuable to some IoT applications.

>>For a full Q&A on this topic of Blockchain click here.

Posted in IoT | Comments Off on 5 Big Blockchain Concepts to Understand for IoT and Security Applications

What’s New with the Digi XBee3 Smart Modules?

Posted on:

We are excited to announce the new Digi XBee3 Series of smart modules. Digi XBee3 builds on industry-leading embedded technology, offers design freedom with easy-to-add functionality and flexible wireless connectivity. The new Micro form factor allows customers to shrink their devices with new low-power requirements making it ideal for battery-powered applications, portable and remote devices. It brings a new era of flexibility to mesh networking and new LTE cellular technologies enabling a higher level of abstraction without the lead times and complexities of chip-down designs. A few advanced features include:

  • Micro size – a reduced size, weight, and power consumption.
  • Micro-Python-programmable – RF connectivity for short range or Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN).
  • Design flexibility – RF and cellular options.

Furthermore, builders of Internet of Things (IoT) devices require more options for connectivity as well as increased computing power for processing data at the edge of the network. Digi XBee3 Series includes ZigBee 3.0 for mesh networking and Digi XBee3 Cellular with the latest LTE technologies like LTE-M and NB-IoT, are all available in the compact and pin-compatible form factor.

One socket allows you to connect to IoT networks around the globe. With the authentic Digi XBee footprint, and end-device certifications, allowing you to future-proof your design and know that Digi has you covered for new wireless technologies as they emerge. From multiple global protocols and expanded programmability to the Digi TrustFence® security framework and future-proof form factor, Digi XBee3 gives you even more options for connectivity.

>>See more about these new smart edge IoT modules and modems here.

Automating Porch Light Sensors Using Cellular LTE Communication

Posted on:

Security and automation have become staples for smart home technology in today’s Internet of Things (IoT) world. The possibility for basic IoT solutions are virtually endless and can be easy to get creative with. In this project, Technical Content Specialist for Mouser Electronics, Jospeh Downing, will demonstrate how to create a Smart Porch Light Project using Digi XBee LTE Cellular module and Arduino Mega-2560 to automate his porch light demo.

This project is very versatile and has the ability measure light, temperature, humidity, and ultraviolet light using multiple sensors. In addition, sing a cloud service such as Ubiodts or Google Cloud Platform, you have the ability to collect real-time results and store data.

Controlling a Lamp from the Internet with Digi Remote Manager

Posted on:

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Assemble the Parts
  3. Configure the Radios
  4. Wire up the Circuit
  5. Install the Digi XBee Internet Gateway
  6. Setup Digi Remote Manager
  7. Upload PHP Scripts
  8. Use it!

1) Introduction

In this example, we’ll walk you through the steps for setting up the Digi XBee Internet Gateway and Digi Remote Manager (DRM) to control a lamp over the internet! Of course, you don’t have to use a lamp for this; you can use XIG and Digi Remote Manager to control many kinds of devices and even read wireless sensors.

When you want to turn the lamp on or off, you’ll click a bookmark on your bookmarks bar that will connect you to your own PHP-enabled web server. The server will send an XML-formatted request to Digi Remote Manager, which will pass the request along to the Digi XBee Internet Gateway. The XIG will wirelessly set the command on the Digi XBee to set a pin high, which is connected to a PowerSwitch Tail. The lamp connected to the PowerSwitch Tail will light up when the Digi XBee’s pin is high.

8-Bit is Back, Baby!

Posted on:

With the recent comeback of classic video games like Tetris and gaming consoles from creators like Nintendo and AtGames, combined with the growing variety of addressable LEDs, all make for exciting creations using streaming video displays. Our friends at Mouser created the LED Block Game using 900 addressable LEDs, a wireless controller, and Digi technology. The wireless controller connects the interface running the Mouser Blocks software and allows for functionality after programming the microcontroller and Digi XBees.

If you are a fan of old-school 8-bit games, similar to this Tetris-like project, you can create a life-sized project of your own using the listed materials, XCTU software instructions, and assembly directions provided here.

Contact a Digi expert and get started today! Contact Us
Have a Question?