This is the very popular 2.4GHz XBee module from Digi. These modules take the 802.15.4 stack (the basis for Zigbee) and wrap it into a simple to use serial command set. These modules allow very reliable and simple communication between microcontrollers, computers, systems, really anything with a serial port! Point to point and multi-point networks are supported.
Not sure which XBee module or accessory is right for you? Check out our XBee Buying Guide!
Note: If you are using these outside of the United States, please check with your local laws regarding radio communication.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
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I’ve been messing with a few of these for about two months now and have come to the conclusion that they’re just not that reliable or easy to setup. I’ve had continuous problems trying to get them to communicate with each other and often when they do start communicating, it’s a mystery as to what changed.
Also keep in mind that Digi is not a Linux-friendly company. Personally, I think they’re completely out of touch with their target market. The XCTU software is available for Mac or Windows but not Linux. Some people run it in Wine, others use Moltosenso’s Iron which runs natively on Linux but I couldn’t get it to find any of my XBees. Honestly, the XCTU tool isn’t the issue or even required to get XBees talking to each other; you should be able to do all the configuring over serial with AT commands. Tip: when you enter “+++” do it as fast as you possibly can or the bee may not respond. Took a lot of frustration to finally figure that out.
Overall, these are turning out to not be worth the headache to me. If I can find another solution, I’ll go with that next time.