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 a 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 bought this after first purchasing the on chip antenna model. I later found that if you have a PCB with a ground plane under the on chip antenna, it would cause problems. It definitely did! Rather than redesign my PCB, I switched to the wire antenna and it works great.
One thing to note, the PWM output on these has a period of 15KHz which is too fast for some microcontrollers to interrupt upon accurately. It will cause a stack overflow at the least. However, you can use a resistor and capacitor filter on the PWM output to make it a stable linear analog voltage for your signal. I use this to control an R2D2 using an analog thumbstick without any issue.
I've been learning both the xbee 1 and xbee 2. It is far easier to use the 1 which is very easy to set up in a simple network. I especially appreciate the support videos from Sparkfun. I used them to help pave the way to understanding the xbee protocol. Sparkfun rocks!
Two of these combined with the XBee Explorer Serial and right out of the box you've got a wireless serial connection....Now, if there was handy enclosure for them
simple to set up and use.
The range is not really that long as opposed to what is said in the specifications, however it works exactly as it is meant to, which makes it worth every penny.