Wireless Configuration with the Digi XBee Mobile App – XCTU for Mobile

Rob Faludi
January 25, 2019

Digi XBee® Mobile is an iOS and Android compatible app for connecting and configuring Digi XBee 3 devices using their new onboard Bluetooth. If you are familiar with Digi XCTU, you will immediately have a comfort level with the mobile version, which provides the same functionality.

The XBee Mobile App helps commission, provision, activate, investigate and update your Digi XBee 3 radio modules wirelessly, with no physical access required. Once Bluetooth is activated you can leave behind your heavy laptop, development board and USB cables. Going forward, your smartphone is all you’ll need to manage your Digi XBee 3 radio module.

Using the XBee Mobile App

In this hands-on guide, we’ll show you how to use the mobile app version of Digi XCTU:

  • Look for and connect to nearby XBee 3 BLE devices.
  • Get basic information about the device and the firmware version it is running.
  • List all the configuration categories and settings of the firmware running in the XBee 3 device.
  • Read and change the value of any firmware setting.
  • Perform a remote reset of the device.

XBee3 FamilyDigi XBee 3 in micro, through-hole and SMT modules

Digi XBee3 Cellular

Digi XBee 3 Cellular

The XBee Mobile App works with:



Configure the XBee 3 Zigbee Radio

Let’s get our hands dirty with a Digi XBee 3 Zigbee radio module so you can see for yourself how easy and convenient it is to configure an XBee 3 from your smartphone or tablet with the XBee Mobile App.

Parts Needed


Note:

All Digi XBee 3 modules are ready to run Bluetooth. Those with a PCB or Chip antenna require no further components. U.FL modules require an external 2.4 GHz antenna. RF Pad modules expect to be connected to an antenna at the board level. Digi XBee 3 Cellular modems require connecting an external 2.4 GHz Bluetooth antenna, in addition to the cellular LTE antenna normally used. Bluetooth can function even without these antennas, however range will be greatly reduced, so this is not recommended.

Activate Bluetooth

Before using the XBee Mobile App, you’ll want to activate Bluetooth on your Digi XBee 3 and assign it a password using the XCTU application on a Windows, MacOS or Linux computer.

Set up XCTU

  • Download XCTU onto your computer and install it.
  • Mount an XBee 3 radio onto the XBIB evaluation board and connect it to the computer.
  • Launch XCTU and add a module, using the icon with the plus sign in the upper left, then selecting the appropriate port and baud rate.

Bluetooth XCTU start

Digi XBee 3 module added to XCTU

  • Click on the radio module in the left column to select it. The module’s configuration will be displayed in the right column.
  • Scroll down to the Bluetooth Options section to configure Bluetooth settings.

Bluetooth XCTU config

Digi XBee 3 Bluetooth Options in XCTU

  • Set BT Bluetooth Enable to “Enabled (1)” and click the pencil icon to save that change to the radio module.
  • If a Bluetooth password has not been set, you will automatically be asked to configure it.

Bluetooth XCTU password request

Bluetooth password dialog in XCTU

  • The Configure Bluetooth Authentication screen is displayed. Enter a secure password for Basic configuration and click OK to complete the setup.

Bluetooth XCTU configure authentication

Configure Bluetooth authentication in XCTU

Your Digi XBee 3 radio module now has Bluetooth activated and will allow secure connections from the XBee Mobile application. You can leave the XBIB evaluation board connected to the computer for power, or change to a portable USB battery power supply to go fully wireless.


Related white paper: 5 Reasons You Should Consider Embedded Cellular Connectivity


Install the XBee Mobile App

The XBee Mobile application is a free download for both Android and iOS. Download it onto your tablet or smartphone and launch the app to continue. Be sure to review the XBee Mobile App documentation.

Once the app is installed with your XBee 3 radio module powered on, you’re ready to connect.

Connecting to XBee 3

When you start the XBee Mobile app, it will search for all nearby Bluetooth-enabled XBee 3 radio modules.

Searching for Devices

Searching for devices

Tap on your XBee 3 to select it. Enter the password you configured during the XCTU setup.

Password Screen

Password screen

When you have entered the correct password, the XBee 3 device configuration categories will be displayed. Notice that the module is identified by only its MAC address; the Name field is blank by default.

XBee Device Configuration

XBee device configuration

Using the XBee Mobile App

Entering a new setting is very easy. Let’s give the XBee 3 a real name, so we can label it in a human-friendly fashion. For example, in a municipal street lighting application, we might give it a label like “Streetlight 476”. Tap the Addressing category to see the current setup. Scroll down to Node Identifier, which is blank by default. Tap on this field to enter new text, typing in “Streetlight 476”. Tap the Write button once you are done.

 

Addressing settings, modifying Node Identifier Write the changed setting Node Identifier Saved
Addressing settings, modifying
Node Identifier
Write the changed setting Node Identifier saved

The information you entered in Node Identifier was saved to the XBee 3. It can be displayed in addition to the radio module’s MAC address, making it easier to identify it wirelessly when many others are present. You will see this Node Identifier displayed inside the XBee Mobile application as “Name: Streetlight 476″.

NH Maximum Hops help text

NH maximum hops help text

Tap Options at the top right of the screen to display various read/write commands for this category, as well as some basic control functions. For now, just tap Cancel and then tap < Back at the top left of the screen to return to the Device Information page. Tapping Options here shows just the basic control functions. Tap Disconnect to end your session.

Options for current category Options for whole device Confirm disconnection
Options for current category Options for whole device Confirm disconnection

Useful Settings

There are a lot of settings to choose from. In many applications the factory defaults will be optimal. It’s best to change only what you need to, though don’t be afraid to experiment within your test environment. It’s a great way to learn.

Here are some you might want to look at first, since they are more frequently customized:

  • During initial configuration and commissioning of the radio module you may want to set the serial baud rate (UART category, BD Baud Rate), configure GPIO input and output pins (I/O Settings category), change the local API mode (UART category, AP API Enable), request Zigbee coordinator verification during join (Networking category, JV Coordinator Verification) and enable network encryption (Security category).
  • Sleeping the radio module will save energy, battery life and therefore also save money (Sleep Modes category). MicroPython scripts allow intelligent decision making to occur onboard the XBee 3 module, if you launch them automatically (MicroPython Options, PS MicroPython Autostart). See our series of MicroPython posts for more information.
  • In the field you can activate one Zigbee radio module to be a coordinator (Networking category, CE Device Role), request serial join verification notices (Networking, JV Join Verification) and see various diagnostic information, including the internal temperature (Diagnostic Commands, TP Temperature). And there’s plenty more.

Summary

This tutorial guided you through using the Digi XBee Mobile App to connect with and configure a Digi XBee 3 device over Bluetooth. You searched for and connected to an XBee 3 radio module, viewed basic information, listed various configuration categories, changed several firmware settings and saw how to remotely reset the module.

>>> Find the right XBee 3 module for your needs on Digi.com. Need some guidance? Contact us for customer support.

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