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4 FAQs for Your First Digi XBee® Cellular Development Kit

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Digi XBee Cellular is the latest member of the Digi XBee family, a family that includes a wide range of RF protocols and standards designed to meet the needs of users, makers, and Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs). These wireless modules have evolved into generations of series options to choose from depending on the application, firmware configuration, hardware design, and networking protocol.

Supported by the Digi XBee ecosystem, Digi XBee Cellular is not just hardware, but includes software (XCTU for configurations), and libraries of resources, community and support services (WDS for antenna design). But, the primary benefit of Digi XBee Cellular is that it is pre-certified and ready for OEMs to quickly and securely integrate cellular connectivity into their solutions and devices. While still sharing the same Digi XBee footprint and software interface across many wireless technologies, users have the design flexibility to switch between wireless protocols or frequencies as needed.

We know designing devices with cellular connectivity that meets the compliance standards of cellular carriers presents its challenges. This is why we designed the Digi XBee Cellular development kit to make is simple and quick for OEMs, hardware and software engineers, corporate technologist, educators, and students to successfully integrate embedded cellular.

Below are frequently asked questions and answers to get started with your first Digi XBee Cellular dev kit, and did we mention 6 months of free data?

1. What’s in the Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit?
• Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 embedded modem
• 1 Digi XBee development board
• 1 LTE Cat 1 SIM for Verizon
• 6 months of free cellular service
• Antennas and power supply

2. If only one antenna is used, will the Digi XBee Cellular Modem still be carrier end-device certified?
Yes. The modem has been certified for both single and dual antenna configurations. More information on antenna specification requirements can be found in the User Guide. And, Digi WDS can help with integrated antenna designs for your enclosure.

3. The development kit includes 6 months of free cellular data service. How much data can I use per month?
6 months of free cellular service will be limited to 5MB/month and recommended to use 100 SMS per month or less. The kit is for testing purposes only, not for production.

4. How much current does Digi XBee Cellular use in Deep Sleep mode?
Digi XBee Cellular only uses 10uA of current in Deep Sleep mode making it ideal for battery and solar powered applications.

EVE Project Connects XBee to Open Source IoT

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The EVE project, from Ciseco out of Nottingham, United Kingdom is a plug in board for the new Raspberry Pi mini computer. The hardware and software together will create a server for connecting various wireless device protocols to a single point. It features an XBee socket for connections to ZigBee, ZigBee Smart Energy, 802.15.4, WiFi, long-range 900 MHz, DigiMesh and 868 MHz radios.

The Raspberry Pi EVE board is the reference hardware for the IoT Toolkit gateway. It’s a work in progress, and is currently raising funding for development on Kickstarter. Presently they are more than 2/3 of the way to their goal, with time to spare. Cisesco’s Miles Hodkinson and I spoke jut the other day about the project and the possibilities for talking to a Raspberry Pi that’s 28 miles away with the new XBee-PRO 900HP. Sound interesting? You can help fund EVE.

XIG Kit

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We’ll be giving away XBee Internet Gateway Kits at Maker Faire New York. They come with an XBee XStick 802.15.4, a USB stick with the software and a glamorous XBee skills badge. Even if you aren’t on hand to get a kit, here’s some information and free downloads to will help get you started with XIG:

XBee-powered Cymbal Chimp Alert

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You want your project noticed? Nobody can ignore a hyperactive cymbal-playing chimp that creates a cacophony of sound when triggered over the Internet. Inspired as always by Tom Igoe’s Making Things Talk, we hooked this toy terror up to an XBee radio, creating a wireless alarm that grabs the ear as well as the eye and the heart. From the project instructions on the Digi Examples site:

By pairing an XBee with your percussive primate, you create an unmistakable alarm that gets immediate attention. It’s a first-rate way to present alerts that cannot be ignored. Web server down? Customer service queue climbing beyond your comfort? Kids ignoring their chores? This easy hack will put a monkey on their back, and he won’t let go until the warning is heeded!

Check out the ape alert in action in its video below:

See the Light: New XBee Example

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In the latest post on Digi’s Examples site, Matt Richardson shows how to set up an XBee radio to measure ambient light levels. The photocell sensors used are cheap and versatile. You could track solar quality for a greenhouse or transmit information about natural sunlight to run the lighting in windowless environments. And as Matt writes in his post, photocells are not only good for measuring light. You can also use them to detect human presence or even employ them as a touchless controller:

Photocells are a popular component in electronics projects; they let you sense and take action based on the amount of light hitting the cell. Not only are they great for sensing the ambient light to tell if it’s day or night, but they can also be used as an interface input. That is to say, if someone waves their hand over the sensor, the shadow of the user’s hand can actuate some response. Best of all, these sensors are cheap—at about a dollar a piece, they’re a great component to keep stocked in your bins.

Here’s a video that shows the light example connected to the panel meter example. Watch it, then make your own!

Say it Proud with XBee Panel Meter

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Want to impress people? Make a muscle measuring fitness meter! Or perhaps you’re a business genius and prefer to quantify your cash. Either way, you’ve got to have a panel meter to indicate your achievements. The latest tutorial from Digi’s XBee Examples & Guides shows all the steps for creating a wireless readout. You’ll push your project’s needle towards “11.” It’s also great for giving your device a retro feel. More on that from the site:

As the world of technology becomes increasingly digital, the nostalgia for older analog technology grows. The panel meter is a great piece of analog technology that can be easily integrated into your projects. And thanks to the XBee 802.15.4 radio’s digital to analog converter, you can make a wireless panel meter with only a few components.

This video demonstrates the panel meter in operation, using a light sensor to control its movements. You could also monitor remote radiation, track the temperature in refrigerated trucks or keep an eye on your favorite stock by connecting it to the Internet with the XIG. Go ahed, make yourself a meter!

New XBee Example: Make Money with a Coin Acceptor

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Earn some income using this latest XBee Example that shows how to easily connect an XBee radio to one of Adafruit’s nifty coin acceptors. It’s part of Digi’s efforts to document how to create all kinds of interesting XBee inputs, outputs and interconnections.  We’d like to make making things easier.

Here’s what the site has to say:

“Your XBee can make real money, all by itself! This easy-to-use coin acceptor can be part of any project where you want to accept coins, whether they be Euros, pence, pounds, a Cambodian Riel or American quarters.

“The XBee radio will send a signal every time a coin is inserted into the acceptor. In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through how to program the radio, configure the acceptor and wire it up to an XBee so you can create projects that earn real cash!”

The video below shows an XBee coin acceptor in a basic, local implementation. It’s just a starting point for you to get creative. For example you could also hook everything up to the Internet via the new XBee Internet Gateway and start Counting Money with a Coin Acceptor online!

XBee Example for Feeling the Force

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The newest tutorial on Digi’s XBee Examples site teaches you to create a wireless force sensor or FSR. The force sensor sends out a signal that varies depending upon how hard you press on it. It can be used to measure weight or pressure.

Additional examples for XBee radio sensors and outputs are being posted regularly, all summer long. Follow our RSS feed to collect ’em all. For example last week’s Digital Input example could be used to detect whether a cat is on a mat. But if you need to know how fat is that cat on the mat, then then Matt Richardson’s new Feeling Force example is for you!

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