This is a simple to use, USB to serial base unit for the Digi XBee line. This unit works with all XBee modules including the Series 1 and Series 2.5, standard and Pro version. Plug the unit into the XBee Explorer, attach a mini USB cable, and you will have direct access to the serial and programming pins on the XBee unit.
The highlight of this board is an FT231X USB-to-Serial converter. That’s what translates data between your computer and the XBee. There’s also a reset button, and a voltage regulator to supply the XBee with plenty of power. In addition, there are four LEDs that’ll help if you ever need to debug your XBee: RX, TX, RSSI (signal-strength indicator), and power indicator.
This board also breaks out each of the XBee’s I/O pins to a pair of breadboard-compatible headers. So if you want to make use of the XBee’s extended functionality, you can solder some header pins into those, or even just solder some wire.
Not sure which XBee module or accessory is right for you? Check out our XBee Buying Guide!
Note: There is no XBee included with this Explorer USB. Check the Recommended Products section below for different options.
Based on 39 ratings:
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I’ve been using this product for awhile and it works perfectly for interfacing my xbee Pro. I use the xbee Pros as a wireless serial link and the explorer plugs into my computer and creates a COM port with no problems. My only complaint (and a minor one at that) is that the reset button is a bit hard to reach and feel since the xbee module overhangs it slightly.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I was having trouble getting my XBEE to communicate with my computer and here was why I needed the explorer board usb to do so. Once I had the explorer I plugged in the explorer and XBEE and opened up XCTU and I had communication right away!
1 of 1 found this helpful:
Works great, gave me a jump-start on development before our in-house hardware was ready.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I am trying to get 2 xbees to communicate sensor data to one another to get an LED to blink. There is very little documentation about how to get the right settings for the Xbee. Any pointers would be much appreciated
4 of 4 found this helpful:
Works well, but it would be better if the headers were through hole instead of surface mounted. The XBee fits very tightly in the 2mm headers and requires some gentle force to remove. I ended up breaking one of the headers off while trying to remove an XBee.
I wanted to repair it using the breadboard-compatible holes by mounting one of the XBee breakout boards, but the left and right header holes are offset by one pin! I ended up soldering headers and using jumper wires to keep this working while I wait for a replacement. I’m going to replace this unit with one of the competing products that uses through-hole mounting for the XBee 2mm headers.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I highly recommend it. Works like a charm!
1 of 2 found this helpful:
Worked exactly as stated. Then I went to remove my XBee so I could program another one and the header snapped off! Someone PLEASE make this through hole and not surface mount headers. Now I have to order another and waste another week waiting on shipping. I’m a poor college student on a time crunch! HELP!!!!
Please contact our support team for assistance. https://www.sparkfun.com/technical_assistance
Got my XBees' up and running in no time flat.
Easy to use. Performed as advertised.
Work great with XBee Pro Series 2B and Xbee Series 2
I use these all the time and have never had a problem. Very useful.
The XBee Explorer works as advertised. High marks! I used the Explorer in connecting my Laptop (running Python application) to Raspberry PI. No problems what so ever. Definitely a number of different uses for this product.
The quality is top notch, and is extremely reliable. I have two, one of them has been working non stop for almost two years.
easy to use USB plug and go breakout points available
I want to power the USB explorer board to monitor the xbee tx/rx when the xbee is powered with an external supply. Can the 3.3V pin on the USB explorer be used as the xbee power source when there is no USB connected? Similarly, can the 5V pin be used as the power supply with no USB connected? If yes, will the tx/rx LEDs function with external power? If the board is externally powered, are there any USB explorer pins that must be set hi/low (e.g., RST, RES, CTS, DTR)?
If you are powering over the 3.3V line, you need to be very sure to have a clean and regulated 3.3V power supply. The Xbees are very sensitive and can become damaged if supplied with to much power.
The 5V input should run through the regulator (MIC5219 3.3V) so you can get away with more input voltage. However, I would suggest keeping it under 9V in on the regulated line.
I have not tested, but the TX and RX should turn on without USB as long as there is data being sent over the respective line.
Perfect match with XCTU software.
Work without any problem. headers are not included
0 of 1 found this helpful:
Be careful with the 2mm pitch headers. I soldered on 0.1" through hole headers to plug this into a breadboard. When I pulled the board out of the breadboard I accidentally put too much force on the 2mm headers on top and one ripped right off. I tacked it back on with some super glue and wires to connect 3.3V and GND (the only connections I need on that side of the board). Through hole headers would have been a better choice.
Definitely useful for setup and testing.
I have used this product over the past several years. The latest iteration works well with the highest power XBee modules, the Pro S3B if you observe the instructions in the Sparkfun ad regarding the RSSI limitation. I can’t ask for more than doing exactly what it says it does!
Every Sparkfun creation I’ve tried has been excellent, and the Xbee Explorer is no exception. This breakout-board serves very well as an Xbee component or as a configuration tool. A great value!
Works as expected.
Good quality and price and performance
I originally intended to use this board in my house to hold the Coordinator XBee which communicates with another Xbee which controls my water pump.
I did have to download drivers, install, reboot, uninstall, reinstall again before it would work. This seemed to be more of a Windows problem than this board, but it worked in the end.
Because the mini USB connector was much easier to route thru ~6 feet of ¾ inch conduit, I ended up using this board as the outdoor router for the water pump. It is sealed inside of a water proof Type-LB Nonmetallic Conduit Body.
This means that the board needs to communicate with my Raspberry Pi. In connecting to the Pi, I had none of the bother that I had with my Windows machine: I plugged it in, and it worked fine. Even though the power draw of the Xbee Pro is a bit over what the Pi is spec'ed for, I have not had any problems. Since the Pi is not driving anything else, I have more margin than other applications.
I have another “dongle” for my XBees, but it lacks the reset switch. This is the feature I use the most on this unit. I also prefer the mini-B USB over a Type A style. Since I don’t need to plug this one into a proto board, not having the pins on the bottom gives it a smaller form factor, which is also a benefit. I have another with pins for hardware development tasks, but as I usually use them in pairs, having one of each is a plus.
Setting up a wireless weather station and need to extend an USB logger. A pair of these boards, along with XBee’s, are doing the job well.
Normally I love Sparkfun products – but I have issues with this.
Was rocking a Lilipad project for my students – trying to switch from a crappy wifi to XBee – bought this to interface with XCTU and to do some prototyping with breadboards.
USB port on the two I bought is “tetchy” – wobbles and loses connection easy
Soldered some pins to use this on a breadboard — strange configuration – can’t quite figure out what is up – but it looks like the top ground is not connected anywhere and the alignment doesn’t seem right. Frustrating. Tried to fix. Shifted to another brand. :(
Tutorials all use old XCTU program – new version is massively different
Sorry to hear about the issues with the explorer USB connections!
Have you contacted our technical support @ email@example.com - they’re usually great at finding a positive resolution for cases like this.
The product is excellent. works good.
The second sentence of the description says ‘This unit works with all XBee modules,…’. This unit is not compatible with XBee Pro XSC S3B radios!
There is no information on the product’s page that states this. The only reference that I found was on the XBee Pro XSC S3B page where a link titled ‘Explorer Issue’, but was a dead link and only directed to the digi knowledge database. It looks as though Digi updated their article links and Sparkfun has not. Maybe the intent is to link to this article?: http://knowledge.digi.com/articles/Knowledge_Base_Article/Recovery-procedure-for-XBees/
This has been a continuous issue for 4 years, as I made the same mistake then (fool me twice, shame on me). I figured this type of issue would have been resolved by now though and I would not have to check behind Sparkfun. I spent enough time trying to figure out why I could not get the XBee to work with the explorer and XCTU, its not worth my time to deal with return shipping.
Sorry about the compatibility mix-up with the explorer.
I believe you can get the S3B modules working by cutting the pin to the RSSI pin on pin 6. Because it’s a config pin on the S3B’s and RSSI on all the other guys, we have some other components setup on it.
Have you contacted our technical support department @ firstname.lastname@example.org - they may be able to help you out with a return if you would like.
Convenient to use both as an interface to XCTU and as a stand alone. Solid construction.
I found this to be a great way to connect an XBee radio to a computer, along with mounting a radio to a breadboard. The price is the only sticking point: at nearly the cost of an XBee, I would prefer to desolder the XBee’s headers and replace with 0.1 pitch jumpers. All in all, this “Explorer” is a convenient turnkey solution.
0 of 3 found this helpful:
But I have used SparkFun gadgets for my work to do things amazing. So thanks for YOUR support while I explore the amazing world of affordable technology!
The Explorer USB handles the powering and connections for a WiFly (and XBee’s, I assume). It’s straightforward to use and makes application of the WiFly a snap.
This interface for the XBee module does exactly what it is intended to do. It provides a USB interface to the host PC as well as the necessary level shifting to the 3.3v Rx & Tx ports of the XBee device. It has an onboard a 3.3 regulator to power the module from the USB 5v rail. For the price it would be difficult to produce your own with equivalent functionality.
There are a couple of items that I think could be improved on though. 1) The Explorer pin numbers do not match the XBee pin numbers. For instance XBee pin 1 connects to Explorer pin 10, XBee pin 2 to Explorer pin 9 Etc. 2) The 100-mil headers should be included with the Explorer. 3) The board currently uses the older USB mini-B connector instead of the more predominant micro-B connector. These items reduced the rating from 5 to 4 stars.
Must have accessory to work with xBee modules. This allows to re-program the FW, configure them and even recover “dead” ones from a PC. The Digi software works flowlessly with this board. This helped me understand how the the xBee modules work and fine tune my network configuration before using them with an Arduino Yun. I accidentally plugged the module in reverse a couple of times and it did not damage neither the Explorer nor the xBee board. I was able to achieve my goal to build wireless temperature sensors using xBee 2 Series boards that can run for 1.5+ year on a pair of AA batteries.
an excellent tool to facilitate communication between PC and xbee