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360º Smartphone Camera Rig

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A student at Middlesex University London designed the 360 Smartphone Camera Drone Rig to create a new user experience when shooting high-quality videos as an alternative option to using expensive cameras or a professional camera system.

The video below highlights the tech, materials, and machines used through the various steps of Kane Fernandes’s final second year design project:

Using a brushless drone motor, ESC, potentiometer and an Arduino Uno microcontroller board base they tested the power by attaching the complete motor to the propeller. For remote connectivity they used Digi XBee modules and free XCTU software that successfully passed a basic test on a LED circuit board. After experimenting with a large wheelhouse and alternative base pivot points, the first test was successfully completed using an Iphone 7 camera mount and a Monopod aka a selfie stick.

Watch live testing on the twitter series below and be sure to on Twitter.

Have an an awesome project to share or want to create one with Digi Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit”>XBee Cellular? Follow @XBeeWireless on Twitter and send a tweet to let us know.

Digi XBee Cellular Supports MicroPython Programmability

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Introduction to MicroPython
MicroPython is an open-source programming language based on Python 3, and has been optimized to fit on small devices with limited hardware resources, such as micro-controllers. It includes an interactive REPL (or read-evaluate-print-loop), which allows programmers to connect to an embedded board and execute code without the need for compiling or uploading, ideal for quick experimentation of code blocks and prototyping. It also includes extensive built-in software libraries, making simple programming tasks like network socket connections or I/O pin management quick and easy.

MicroPython on Digi XBee Cellular
Digi XBee Cellular now has MicroPython! With 24KB of RAM and 8KB of Flash available in this MicroPython ‘sandbox’, OEMs now have the power and flexibility to develop and integrate their own unique features. In some simple sensing/actuating use-cases, it can eliminate the need for an external micro-controller, saving PCB space and simplifying the hardware design. MicroPython is great for reading and/or controlling XBee I/O lines (13 Digital I/Os, 4 Analog 10-bit inputs). It could also be used to reduce cellular data consumption by adding local intelligence that dictates what data should and should not be sent over the air, leading to lower monthly data rate cost.

MicroPython Terminal in XCTU
Included in the latest XCTU release (v6.3.8) is a new MicroPython terminal, a tool that allows the user to interact with MicroPython on the Digi XBee Cellular modem. Through the serial interface in the terminal, users can interact with the REPL to test, load, and run MicroPython code. Of course, those users that prefer to use their own terminal program like Tera Term or Putty can continue to do so. But with the new terminal included in XCTU, users have the convenient option to discover, configure AND program their Digi XBee Cellular modem through this single interface.


Simple MicroPython Example for XBee Cellular:

Where can I learn more about MicroPython?
Check out the following resources to learn more about MicroPython and how to use it with the Digi XBee Cellular:

>>Interested in trying out MicroPython? Buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today and get six months of free data.

Security in the IoT: Digi XBee Cellular Featuring Digi TrustFence

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Security for Connected Devices
Embedded security is a critical requirement for a growing number of connected IoT applications and devices. Evolving technology and network connectivity expose device manufacturers to significant new security risks and engineering challenges. Digi TrustFence™ provides a tested and fully integrated security framework designed for the long product life of embedded devices.

Digi TrustFence is a security framework for IoT systems. Built into that framework are a series of critical features that enable top-to-bottom security assurance; features like secure connections, authenticated boot, secure physical ports, and more. Digi XBee Cellular implements key elements of the Digi TrustFence framework, including:

  • Secure Boot – Ensures only signed software images can run on a device
  • Encrypted Storage – Security keys are protected by an on-board security chip
  • Protected JTAG – Programming interface locked to prevent tampering
  • Secure Connections – SSL/TLS v1.2 encryption for secure data transmissions
  • Life-cycle Longevity – Digi-maintains a future-proof platform architecture

Security threats to embedded devices in IoT solutions are increasingly common, as attacks become more sophisticated. They can include confidentiality breaches, service theft, data integrity, and reduced service availability. IoT systems have unique security requirements and challenges, mostly due to resource limitations. Build secure, connected products with Digi XBee Cellular embedded modems to capitalize on the out-of-the-box, integrated security provided by Digi TrustFence. The result: you protect your brand’s reputation and focus on delivering cellular-connected products without the worrying, risk and hassle of implementing custom security.

>>Learn how to buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today with six months of free data.

Cellular, ZigBee, Thread, Wi-Fi, and More: What Does It Mean To Deliver True Compatibility Regardless of Technology?

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True compatibility is a combination of common hardware and software interfaces that are future-proof and provide design flexibility. Digi XBee offers true compatibility with a common footprint and common APIs:

Common Footprint
In one compact design footprint, Digi XBees give our customers access to multiple wireless protocols and RF frequencies including Cellular, ZigBee®, Thread, 802.15.4 and Wi-Fi. This flexibility lowers manufacturing and engineering costs and offers OEMs the ability to quickly expand their roadmap and adapt to different frequencies and protocols for different regions of the globe.

Common Pinouts
Common footprints mean more than just a shared physical design. All Digi XBee modules use the Digi XBee pin signal layout standard. This means that all Digi XBees share the same electrical connections for maximum interchangeability.

Common API and AT Interface
Digi XBee devices can configure their local serial connections in several different ways. The XBee “operating mode” establishes the way the host device communicates with an XBee through its serial interface. These modes are standardized across all XBee devices.

Digi XBee modules support two different operating modes, which are consistent across all the different technology variants:

  • Application Transparent (“Transparent mode”)
  • Application Programming Interface (“API mode”)

Transparent Mode
Digi XBees operate in this mode by default. The device acts as a simple, ‘plug n play’ serial line replacement when it is in Transparent operating mode. The device queues all serial data it receives through the RX/DIN pin for RF transmission to its configured remote destination. When a device receives RF data from a remote device, it sends the data out through the TX/DOUT pin.


  • Provides a simple interface that makes it easy to get started with Digi XBee.
  • Easy for an application to support; what you send is exactly what other modules get, and vice versa.
  • Works very well for two-way communication between Digi XBee devices.

API Mode
API mode is a frame-based protocol that allows you to direct data on a packet-by-packet basis. The host device communicates UART data in packets, also known as API frames. This mode allows for structured communications between computers and microcontrollers, and the Digi XBee.
The advantages of API operating mode include:

  • It is easier to send information to multiple destinations
  • The host receives the source address for each received data frame
  • The host can receive a delivery status for each transmitted frame
  • Parameter changes can be accomplished without entering Command mode

True Compatibility
With these common hardware and software interfaces, integrating a true Digi XBee socket provides two essential advantages to an OEM design:

  1. Future-proof: Digi XBee will continue to maintain consistency as we add support for new technologies, protocols, and frequencies. This means less software and hardware work for OEM developers when they are asked to add new features into their products and services.
  2. Flexibility: It’s quick and easy to drop in different technologies, protocols, and frequencies to expand your roadmap and address new markets or regions.

With the largest selection of global protocols, standard interfaces, design flexibility, mission-critical security and a future-proof footprint, Digi XBee is the best choice for bringing a communications solution to market in record time.

>>Learn how to buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today with six months of free data.

Top 5 Questions to Ask When Securely Deploying & Managing Remote Devices

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Does my vendor do Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, tests for vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit on a device, network, or web application. Ideally, device manufacturers should submit to frequent (quarterly) pen testing by external contractors AND ad-hoc pen testing by interested customers.

What security certifications does my vendor maintain?
You want to see an active security office and security model, not just lip service. Having a dedicated security office means ensuring that security best practices are incorporated into the engineering design process. This approach incorporates accepted guidelines and processes that take into consideration product design and testing such as those defined by the third party organizations such as the American Society for Quality/ Failure Mode Effects Analysis; iSixSigma/DFMEA; ISO9001 SDLC, Penetration Testing Execution Standard and OWASP; as well as emerging standards such as the Online Trust Alliance (OTA).

How does/should my vendor generate true random numbers and secure key storage?
A secret code is only as good as the random number it is based on. Computers are inherently deterministic—so how can they make a truly random number? True Hardware Random Number Generators (TRNG) use the random properties of the physical world to create truly random numbers based on quantum noise.

When Was Your Vendor Last Audited, What Did They Find, and What Did You Do About It?
Does your vendor provide ongoing threat measurement and monitoring services as well as performing internal and external security audits on a regular basis? Regular audits ensure up-to-date security patches, and provide ongoing proactive communication regarding upcoming threats. Certain industry security frameworks, like ISO27001, and PCI DSS require these regular audits.

What will this cost us?
As a general rule, you should only pay a recurring fee if the vendor is making a recurring investment. For example, you should pay once for a great firewall and you should pay ongoing for ongoing device management. It is a good idea to make evaluate the total-cost-of-ownership between different vendors. Our competitor’s total-cost-of-ownership tends to always be higher because they charge for security services, or worse, they offer them at all.

>>Click here to see how to easily integrate device security, device identity, and data privacy capabilities with Digi TrustFence

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Design for LPWA with LTE Cat 1 Today. Ready for LTE-M and NB-IoT Networks Tomorrow.

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Build for Today
LTE Cat 1 is a critical cellular technology for low-power, low-bandwidth IoT deployments. While it supports data rates of 10Mbps Downlink / 5Mbps Uplink, it’s not optimal for higher bandwidth applications that require streaming data or large file transfers. LTE Cat 3 or 4 are better suited for applications that require high data rates and are (typically) mains powered, with support for speeds up to 150Mbps Downlink / 50Mbps Uplink. LTE Cat 1, on the other hand, is a great option for LPWA applications that require low-power consumption and transmit smaller amounts of data less frequently. LTE Cat 1 is fully available across North America, so it can be used in customer applications immediately with confidence. With the Digi XBee Cellular and its industry-leading sub-10uA Deep Sleep functionality, OEMs can design their LPWA devices to work with existing LTE Cat 1 infrastructure today, and in the future drop in an ultra-low power Digi XBee LTE-M or NB-IoT (or even LoRa) with little to no hardware or software re-design required.

Ready for Tomorrow
LTE-M and NB-IoT promise to improve range by 4-7x while further enhancing battery life up to 10 years, with significantly lower hardware and data plan costs. However, these new networks are not yet fully deployed and available – carriers are in the early stages of upgrading their infrastructure, with plans to have full service availability that includes new advanced power management features like PSM and eDRX by the end of 2017. It’s a good strategy for OEMs to start LPWA implementations today leveraging LTE Cat 1, allowing a seamless transition to LTE-M and/or NB-IoT as they become fully available in the future.

The Digi XBee line of wireless solutions maintains a consistent hardware footprint, standard pin-out connections and award-winning software interface across a wide variety of communications protocols. They include ZigBee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh, Wi-Fi, as well as longer-range proprietary (100+ kilometer) solutions. Digi XBees manufactured over a decade ago remain hardware and software compatible with the latest XBee products, including the new Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1. Digi’s XBee LTE-M and NB-IoT modems will deliver these new technologies in a fully backwards-compatible and future-proof platform. This is the Digi XBee™ Cellular advantage.

Planning a LPWA solution that needs to work as well in the future as it does today? Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 is the only modem on the market with the track record to truly connect with confidence.

>>Learn how to buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today with six months of free data.

Future-Proof Your IoT Products Today with Field-Proven zigbee

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Digi XBee® is the most popular module for building zigbee mesh networks. Our new zigbee 3.0 firmware is coming soon which will combine many of the zigbee application layers and will natively support dotdot, the next chapter in enabling smart objects to work together on any network. So, you can confidently design in Digi XBee without having to worry about compatibility with future developments around dotdot. As a matter of fact, the best path to dotdot is with zigbee today.

Click here to read more about dotdot from the zigbee alliance.


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Internet of Things in Review at IoTFuse: Conference 2017

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IoTFuse put on a great event about a week ago at the Minneapolis Convention Center and Digi team members were pleased to be a part of it. The single biggest challenge was choosing which session to attend – there were 48 presentations for all 1,100 registrants to choose from. Here’s a recap of a few of our favorites:

Rainforest Connection
The day kicked off with a presentation from Topher White with Rainforest Connection in which he described recycling old smart phones and turning them into solar-powered listening devices to detect illegal logging. A truly inspiring use of wireless technology to help save our rainforests and reduce CO2 emissions.

IoT Motivators to Keep Your Shirt
Joel Young, Digi CTO, spoke on “Winning the IoT Future, Without Losing Your Shirt.” He explained, surprisingly, that there is an IoT identity crisis because IoT is not a marketplace that can be conquered with an IoT strategy. Instead, IoT is a market enabler, based on key motivators used to accomplish a higher objective. He used several consumer examples (Egg Minder, Netflix Socks, Smart Sneakers) and commercial examples (Big Belly Solar and Heavy Equipment) to discuss the “IoT Motivators” and if they were successful or not. It was an interesting perspective on how the goal should not be to create an IoT device for the sake of an IoT device, but to create an IoT device because it solves a specific customer problem.

Macchina presented their device that enables car owners and fleet managers to monitor telematics through the OBDII port. What’s better, is Macchina uses a Digi XBee socket, so you can plug in Digi XBee Cellular to remotely monitor your vehicle or a fleet of vehicles.

Another favorite session was given by an IoTFuse HackDay winner, Pejman Ghorbanzade, titled “Sloth: An Energy Efficient Real-Time Activity Recognition System.” In one day Pejman was able to assemble wearable sensors (connected by Digi XBee) that can be used to detect activities of daily living, which can be helpful in nursing homes and other settings. What was most interesting was Pejman’s algorithm for predicting certain activities like cooking, walking, eating, etc. By predicting the activity, Pejman’s devices don’t have to send all of the sensor data to be processed – it can just summarize by saying “grandma is cooking.”


Smart Cities
Massoud Amin, Director of the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) at the University of Minnesota, hosted a panel session on Smart Cities with the CIOs of the City of Minneapolis, Otto Doll, and Hennepin County, Jerry Driessen. Professor Amin is also Chairman of the IEEE Smart Grid, a global initiative to bring together organizations involved in the modernization and optimization of the power grid.

According to the UN State of World Cities report, the number of urban residents is growing at 60 million every year. In addition, more than 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2020. The analyst firm of Frost & Sullivan estimates that cities will spend $1.5 trillion by 2020, an annual growth rate of 22.5%. Whatever numbers you use, smarter cities of all sizes are capitalizing on new technologies and the diminishing cost of IT infrastructure to create a ubiquitous network of connected devices, smart sensors, and big data analytics to transform their systems, operations and service delivery.

Competition among cities to engage and attract new residents, businesses and visitors means constant attention to providing a high quality of life and vibrant economic climate. Forward-thinking leaders recognize that although tight budgets, scarce resources and legacy systems frequently challenge their goals, new and innovative technologies can help turn challenges into opportunities.

Digi helps make your city smart by adding connectivity and intelligence to critical government systems. Get the real-time information and remote management you need for transit, traffic control, intelligent street lighting, waste and recycling, all while keeping budgets under control. Being smarter can change the way our cities work and help deliver on their potential as never before.


Read more about IoTFuse and join the largest IoT community in Minnesota>>

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