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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.

Advantages:

  • 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.

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.

 

Digi XBee Cellular Versus Rudimentary Cellular Breakout Boards

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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.

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