Welcome to our series on the Digi XCTU® tool for configuring and testing Digi XBee® devices. Here are the previous posts in this series:
This post talks about how to use Digi XCTU to test your wireless communication range.
In wireless communications, predicting the quality of long-distance links before installing an IoT system can be critical. For example, in oil and gas monitoring applications, a radio connection may have to span several kilometers from on-site equipment to a central monitoring station. The longest distance over which two radios can effectively communicate is called their range.
Its crucial to know whether your chosen solution will work before heading across the tundra to deploy it. Digis XCTU application provides the automated and graphical tools needed for full loopback range testing of your entire system including the antennas and cabling. Once on-site, local environmental factors can be included in your predictions. Want to know if your Digi XBees will go the distance? Digi XCTU gives you peace of mind.
NOTE: These instructions will work with many models of XBee radios including Zigbee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh, and sub-GHz Digi XBees.
Begin by following the instructions in the XCTU Configuration article to:
Next, configure the locally-connected Digi XBee 3 to be a coordinator in API mode. For a complete walkthrough of this process see our Manage XBee Networks Wirelessly with XCTU article. The basic steps are:
Assemble and power a remote Digi XBee 3. It can be mounted on an evaluation board, then connected to a USB power source. If you use a USB battery, you can move your remote XBee 3 around during the range test. By factory default, Digi XBee 3 Zigbee modules will join any available network, so we dont need to configure them for this example.
To range test your wireless network, XCTU needs to know about at least one remote XBee 3 radio. Click the network icon displayed with the local radio module on the right side of its box, shown circled in red here.
XCTU will search the radio network associated with your local module for other Digi XBees on the same network. Click Add selected devices to include those remote XBee modules in your collection. Theyll be displayed right below your local module.
Once youve added your local radio and discovered at least one remote XBee in XCTU, youre ready to do some range testing. This is a very straightforward procedure.
Heres a video that shows the entire process of range testing with Digi XCTU. At the beginning, the local and remote radios are very close together. Then, as they are moved farther apart you will see RSSI reduced and eventually some lost packets. When they are moved back together, packet loss stops and signal strength returns to useful levels.
Understanding the quality and reliability of long-distance wireless connections means testing the longest distance over which two radios can effectively communicate. Digis XCTU application provides automated, graphical tools for complete range testing. It creates graphs that show how radio performance changes over time and distance.
In a very practical sense, you can use Digi XCTU to prepare for an IoT deployment:
Digi XCTU gives you many empirical tools for designing your network, and the real-world results to back up your decisions for peace of mind.