Digi XBee 3: Go Smaller, Run Longer

Rob Faludi Rob Faludi, IoT Consultant, Faludi.com
February 13, 2018
Digi XBee® 3 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 XBee 3 radios go smaller, run longer and work smarter while retaining rock-solid stability. The Digi XBee 3 development platform is perfect for IoT devices that need to be compact, mobile and ultra-efficient.

Digi XBee 3 modules 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 - making it a great options for IoT wearables and other applications where space is at a premium, such as as micro-mobility vehicles and rental scooters.

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 to meet the full range of requirements for connected products:

  • Through-hole for maximum flexibility and 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 and Power

Digi XBee 3 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 XBee 3 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 XBee 3 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 XBee 3 supports an external sleep control so that a host device can put the Digi XBee 3 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 XBee 3 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 XBee 3 knows that getting good sleep is a key to staying smart.

Digi XBee 3 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 XBee 3 has everything required. The module's smart size and feather weight helps match the glucose monitor to active lifestyles. Power management from the XBee 3 ensures it only uses what's absolutely necessary, extending the period between recharges without degrading the user experience.

Digi XBee 3-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 XBee 3-enabled glucose monitor pleases patients and improves their outcomes while reducing overall costs.

This is just one of many ways that Digi XBee 3'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.

Download Our Guide
Learn about development solutions for OEMs