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Promiscuous reception on XBee modules

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AFAICS, there is currently no way to put any of the XBee modules in a "promiscuous" mode, where it justs listens on the network for packets and transmits any packets received through the serial port, regardless of addressing, PAN, or checksum errors. Combined with a small script that translates API packets to the pcap format, this allows capturing (802.15.4) radio traffic using wireshark, which can greatly help in diagnosing network problems.

I've done something similar using a Pinoccio board and my serial-pcap tool, which has proven its worth already. However, it would be even better if one could just use the XBee modules themselves for this.

I don't know details about the Ember and Freescale platforms used in the XBee modules, but I would expect that this isn't terribly complicated to implement. On the serial side, I think sniffing is meaningless in transparent mode, so only API mode would need to be supported. This would require adding an additional "Promiscuous RX" packet type, that just contains the raw data without any control fields, and a single AT command to start/stop promiscuous mode. All normal RF processing can be suspended when promiscuous mode is enabled.

Any chance this will be included in a future firmware version?
asked May 1, 2015 in Feedback/Wish List by matthijs Community Contributor (78 points)

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1 Answer

0 votes
It requires a great deal more than just creating an API interface for that. It actually requires a specific firmware version to be created and loaded onto the module. Both of which already exists by the processor manufactures. Just note that most of them do require specific applications for them to work with.
answered May 1, 2015 by mvut Veteran of the Digi Community (11,395 points)
Sure, there's more to it than adding an API. I was just suggesting that the API doesn't need to be terribly complicated. I realize that this needs a change in the firmware, but I don't think this needs a "specific firmware" - if implemented as I suggested, this can just be supported by all firmware versions, making every XBee module work as a sniffer out of the box (provided that flash space permits, of course).

Since a firmware change is needed, I'm providing this suggestion to Digi here, since AFAIK the firmware source is not available, so I cannot change this myself.
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