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Digi XBee Cellular Versus Rudimentary Cellular Breakout Boards

The Digi XBee Cellular represents a quantum leap ahead of the typical breakout boards on the market today in terms of features, functionality, and ease of development. A breakout board “breaks out” the pins of an underlying cellular module onto a printed circuit board giving you access to use the pins, but little or no additional functionality. Some breakout boards include end-device certification, a SIM slot, and a simple power supply and antenna connector. But, the designer is left having to design in an external microcontroller to manage the module, integrate security elements into their design, and other complex development tasks.

Unlike these breakout boards, Digi XBee Cellular hardware is fully integrated with an on-board cellular module, ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller, power regulator, and security chip, all packed into a compact 24.4 x 32.9mm Digi XBee through-hole footprint. This enables a number of useful features on Digi XBee Cellular that are not available on other cellular modules or breakout boards:

Digi XBee software interface
This runs on the on-board micro-controller and provides an abstraction layer for software designers, including a common AT command interface for configuration and control, an API mode for external devices to intelligently communicate with the XBee, and a transparent serial mode for simple ‘transparent’ communications through the UART, over the cellular network, to the destination IP address or phone number.

Future-Proof design
Digi XBee software interface is consistent across all current and future XBees, and they all share the same Digi XBee footprint. This means it will be easy to drop new wireless technologies into your design as they roll out – technologies like LTE-M, NB-IoT or even LoRa.

• Digi’s easy to use (and free) XCTU software
This software enables you to configure, test, and manage your devices with an intuitive user interface.

• Deep Sleep Mode
In this mode, Digi XBee Cellular consumes less than 10uA. This feature can be configured as cyclic sleep, or pin activated sleep. Other breakout boards support ‘low power modes’ that draw significantly more power.

• Trustfence™ Security Features
These include Secure Boot, SSL/TLS 1.2, Encrypted Storage, and Protected JTAG interface.

• NEW! On-board programmability via MicroPython
Developers will have their own application sandbox directly on the Digi XBee Cellular modem. This enables on-board intelligence for simple sensor/actuator applications, using the digital and analog I/O.

When considering embedded cellular connectivity, it is important consider all of the additional components and work involved in using a breakout board. If time to market and ease of use are vital to your project check out the Digi XBee Cellular development kit which includes a Digi XBee end-device certified modem, a development board, a pre-activated SIM with a live data plan and 6 months of free data service, and the antennas and accessories needed to get cellular up and running in a matter of minutes!

>>Click here to learn more about Digi XBee Cellular.

Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 Development Kit Unboxing

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Integrating cellular technology is easier than ever with Digi XBee Cellular. Digi Chief Innovation Officer, Rob Faludi, gives a preview of what’s included in the Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 Development Kit and how to get started with the small, cost-effective, and fully-certified embedded modem.

Watch the video to learn more and get started with cellular connectivity today with the Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit.

Do you have a topic you’d like to see an Internet of Things expert cover? Let us know in the comments below.

What are the Differences Between LTE-M and NB-IoT Cellular Protocols?

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New cellular protocols are set to roll out in 2017 to provide low power and low cost cellular connectivity for industrial Internet of Things applications. Digi Chief Innovator, Rob Faludi, explains both LTE-M and NB-IoT low bandwidth protocols by breaking down the differences between the two and sharing some examples of their use in industrial applications.

Watch the video to learn more and get started with cellular connectivity today with the Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit.

Do you have a topic you’d like to see an Internet of Things expert cover? Let us know in the comments below.

What’s in a Name? Sorting Out the Alphabet Soup of 3GPP Cellular Naming Conventions

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The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) is a global consortium of various telecommunications associations. In the late 1990s, the 3GPP was organized to establish 3G cellular specifications based on evolved Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) specifications within the scope of the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 project of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Since then the scope of 3GPP standards have expanded to cover 4G LTE and evolving standards like LTE Cat 3, LTE Cat 4 and LTE Cat 1. Carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, and Vodafone are rapidly rolling out networks for LTE-M and NB-IoT.

Let’s sort it out:

Example Applications for Narrowband Cellular
These new narrowband standards have made cellular relevant for applications that only need to connect once in a while and send small packets of data. The makers of remotely deployed sensors and equipment that operates in far flung places, often running on battery or solar power, now have a cellular connectivity option. Digi XBee Cellular simplifies embedded cellular connectivity by reducing or eliminating the time and cost of development and certification to incorporate cellular technology into a wide array of applications.

  • Lighting for streets and parking lots – centrally manage and control city-wide networks of street lights.
  • Oil & Gas and industrial process controls – keep an eye on remote equipment, such as tank levels, temperature, pressure and other sensors.
  • Variable message signage (VMS) – applications ranging from signage to traffic sensors.
  • Environmental monitoring – solar panels can report power generation hourly to a cloud-based applications.

CHECK OUT 5 MORE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER EMBEDDED CELLULAR CONNECTIVITY >>

 

Make the Most of Your Automobile with Macchina M2 and Cellular Connectivity

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Regardless of our age, we can all attest to the advancements the automobile industry has made throughout its history, but the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated this change even more with smart cars, hybrid and fully electric cars, and strides being made towards to self-driving cars. It is truly fascinating and our imaginations are sparked with automotive innovation on all scales from green transportation to open-source development platforms, like M2 by Machinna.

Macchina M2 is an open source automotive interface that allows car hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals the creative ability to program a device and service into the automotive aftermarket. This ‘one-to-many’ interface allows engineers to design a single device that will sync with different firmware and software architecture. The device includes an Arduino board, equipped with a USB port, LEDs, SD card slot, built in EEPROM, and is compatible with Digi XBee. This socket compatibility combined with the Digi XBee family footprint, users can embed cellular connectivity with Digi XBee cellular. This means makers can bypass complicated end-device certifications and provides end-users the option to upload and download live data. Check out the First Look: Macchina M2 article on Hackaday for more software and hardware design details.

We are excited to partner with this project  and our community to bring embedded cellular IoT innovation to the automotive industry. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is to connect Macchina to Digi XBee Cellular, and let us know what you think!

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.

3 Reasons You Should Consider Embedded Cellular Connectivity

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The following is an excerpt from our recent brief, 5 Reasons You Should Consider Embedded Cellular Technology. If you’ve
ever 
considered embedded cellular technology in the past, this brief will quickly highlight some of the key benefits and how the Digi XBee Cellular family can help reduce the cost and complexity of your embedded cellular technology deployment.

Makers of remotely deployed sensors and devices have settled for the compromises, expense, and provisioning/maintenance complexity of traditional RF connectivity for years. Cellular connectivity addresses many of these drawbacks – but still hasn’t been cost-feasible for smaller deployments of ten or fewer devices. Today, that’s changing—here’s how:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: You may have considered embedded cellular in the past, but rejected it because of high-cost data plans from carriers. Today, however, with the emergence of LTE Cat 1 (and, soon, Cat M1 and NB1), the economics are becoming far more favorable – sometimes in the range of just US$2/month (1 MB data plan). For deployments up to ten per location – such as low-power wide-area (LPWA) applications – it can be cheaper to embed cellular connectivity in each device instead of aggregating through a single gateway.
  2. Greater Coverage: As carriers continue to build out their networks to the furthest and remotest areas, there are fewer dead zones to limit your deployments.
  3. Verizon Pre-Certification Digi XBee Cellular is FCC-certified and Verizon end-device-certified, so your device gets to market faster. Digi eliminates the traditional delays, thousands of dollars in costs, and headaches. Coming soon, Digi XBee units will be pre-provisioned as well for even faster deployment.

Digi XBee Cellular enables OEMs to quickly integrate cutting edge 4G cellular technology into their devices without dealing with the painful, time-consuming, and expensive FCC and carrier end-device certifications.

To Learn More, Read the Full Brief Here >>

The Fastest Path to Embedded Cellular Connectivity is Digi XBee®

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Digi is excited to bring together the power and flexibility of the Digi XBee® ecosystem with Verizon, the world’s largest cellular network. Digi XBee® Cellular makes connecting your product easier by smoothing out the hardware, certifications, and development tools to configure and maintain your connected device.

Additional benefits of this pre-certified end device that is saving OEMs months of time and thousands of dollars:

  • xbee-cellular-200pxThe smallest footprint available (24mm x 33mm.)
  • Based on the 20-pin Digi XBee® footprint we all know and trust.
  • The best development tools to deploy and manage your network (XCTU, API, libraries.)
  • A bundled data plan will be available as an option, with the module “shipping hot,” fully pre-provisioned and ready to communicate over the cellular network right out of the box.

Digi XBee® Cellular will initially be available on the Verizon LTE Cat 1 network, followed by additional carrier support and new lower-power IoT Cellular standards such as LTE Cat M1 and LTE Cat NB1. Whatever the protocol, Digi XBee® Cellular will have a pin-compatible module so your design is ready for tomorrow. Samples are available now for development!

Click here for preliminary specs and to sign up for Digi XBee® Cellular updates. Or, give us a call at 877-912-3444 to learn more.

Contact a Digi expert and get started today! Contact Us