Retired!

This is a retired product, but fear not as there is a newer, better version available: WRL-11373

Creative Commons images are CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Retired RETIRED

This product has been retired from our catalog and is no longer for sale.

This page is made available for those looking for datasheets and the simply curious. Please refer to the description to see if a replacement part is available.

Replacement: WRL-11373. The latest revision replaces the diode level shifter with a more robust MOSFET level shifter. This page is for reference only.

Description: The XBee Explorer Regulated takes care of the 3.3V regulation, signal conditioning, and basic activity indicators (Power, RSSI and DIN/DOUT activity LEDs). It translates the 5V serial signals to 3.3V so that you can connect a 5V (down to 3.3V) system to any XBee module. The board was conveniently designed to mate directly with Arduino Pro boards for wireless bootloading and USB based configuration.

This unit works with all XBee modules including the Series 1 and Series 2.5, standard and Pro versions. Plug an XBee into this breakout and you will have direct access to the serial and programming pins on the XBee unit and will be able to power the XBee with 5V.

This board comes fully populated with 3.3V regulator (16V max input), XBee socket, four status LEDs, and a diode to allow 5V systems to communicate safely with the 3.3V XBees. This board does not include and XBee module. XBee modules sold below.

Not sure which XBee module or accessory is right for you? Check out our XBee Buying Guide!

Note: A pull-up on DIN is required for this board to work properly. Series 1 and Series 2 XBee modules have their internal pull-up enabled by default. However, you will need to manually enable the pull-up on the 900MHz series.

Documents:

Comments 101 comments

  • Please, please, please put in a higher current 3.3V regulator in the next revision of this board! I love using it for my XBee breakout but I need enough power for an XBee pro especially since you mention in the description it’s compatible (but dont mention its not sufficient)! There are so many good, cheap SMD LDO regulators with >300mA output out there!

  • Ok guys this board needs to be redesigned. We have countless problems over at SOR and I think I found the cause.
    The MIN High output voltage for an Xbee is only 0.82*VCC or 2.7 V. The MIN High input voltage for a 5V AVR is 0.6VCC or exactly 3.00V.
    2.7 is not greater then 3.0, so not every Xbee will be able to talk to 5V AVRs with out proper level shifting. You need to add a level shifter to the DOUT line of this board.

  • Head’s up when using this with the XBee 900MHz Pro modules: The diode in front of Din appears to cause too much voltage drop.
    I can’t explain exactly why, but when using this board as shipped, I would received only null (0x00) for every byte transmitted and I couldn’t access the module at all with XCTU (the digi configuration software). I know the setup was good because both worked just fine with 2.4GHz (series 2.5) modules. After someone else suggested shorting out the diode, I soldered it up and now everything appears to be working fine.

    • I just received a board with this same issue. With a scope hooked up it only registers a 840mv pk-pk, with the max positive voltage only reading around 320mv. I’m trying to use this with a Synapse RF266 and am not sure if the ATmega128RFA1 chip is 5v input tolerant… still trying to find something in the datasheet, but haven’t really seen anything yet.

      • Couldn’t find anything relevant for the ATmega128RFA1 and 5v on the input pins, so I’m using some resistors to create a voltage divider to bring the voltage to around 3.3V. Since it’s at 3.3v, I also had to remove the DIN LED in order to get a usable signal to the RF266.

    • Yes! Having the same problem - when I put my XBEE in the DIGI test board it works great, when I put it on this board it has problems. I’m off to short the diode!

    • +1 Still applies today.
      Funny even the current schematic does not show the diode. Please add a permanent comment in the FAQs if you’re clearing stock and some of us are getting these [older] boards so we know how to modify them.

    • Thank you! That worked great for me as well. This is my first experience with Xbees and I was hitting a brick wall until I found this.

    • Thanks AdamB, I was also struggling with this.

    • I’m seconding this. After playing with this board and the 900MHz XBee Modules, you do need to short the diode to get it to work right. I looked at the datasheet for the XBee Pro 900 and it says that the module has 5V tolerant IO inputs. So you don’t need to worry about hurting the module. I’m not sure why the diode is dropping the levels below a logic 1 though.
      Thanks for the original comment AdamB, would never have thought of this if you hadn’t posted.

  • This board DOES work with XBee Pro and DOES do level shifting. It does level shifting on DIN in a tricky way using the diode and the XBee’s internal pullup resistors. HOWEVER, for this to work, the internal pullup on DIN needs to be enabled (disabled by default). To do this, you need an Explorer Serial or Explorer USB. In XCTU set ‘PR - Pull-up Resistor Enable’ = 0x3FFF (0x3F7F by default).
    SparkFun: You need to either add this to the product decription or change the level shifting method to work without the pull up resistor enabled

  • How exactly is this 5v-3v3 level shifting performed? It maybe because I’m not that versed in electronics, but the schematic and pcb doesn’t seem to do anything in that regard. Atleast not for data-out. For data-in, if the 5v line goes low it pulls the data-in pin behind the ordinary diode also to low. And the xbee is protected from the 5v by that same diode. But how do you get data-out from 3.3 upto 5V?

    • I’m pretty sure on Dout 3.3V is high enough to count as a high signal for a 5V device so no conversion is needed. For 3.3V -> 5V serial a converter is not required 5V -> 3.3V it needs to be stepped down though.

  • Can this regulate 500ma for the high-power modules?

  • This has to be one of the lengthiest product pages on SparkFun, due to the large number of comments! I have this board, and have been able to get a Series 1 XBee to work with it. So, I am confused - multiple people say the diode (b/w pins 4 and 5) needs to be shorted/jumpered, but my board works fine as is. Could someone from SparkFun jump into the conversation and clear up the outstanding questions, please? Thanks.

    • It seems that there’s a configuration you can do on some XBee modules to make it work. But it doesn’t solve everyone’s problems.

      See the comment from member 157131:

      “…the internal pullup on DIN needs to be enabled (disabled by default). To do this, you need an Explorer Serial or Explorer USB. In XCTU set ‘PR – Pull-up Resistor Enable’ = 0x3FFF (0x3F7F by default).”

      However, I was trying to use this board with the Roving Networks RN-XV (wifi module, XBee form factor) and am not sure if it will let you configure the same thing. So I ended up removing the diode and bridging the solder pads with a tiny piece of wire.

  • Hi guys after days knocking my head against the wall I found that to use a xbee pro 900 XSC you need to do this:
    Jumper the diode connected between pin 4 and 5.
    Hope it helps…
    Nothing else to say…

  • I had to short the diode for a Pro 900 XSC as well,even though its VIH is only 2V.
    If you’re just trying to get a diode drop, don’t you want the polarity inverted from the schematic? Scoping the input to the XBee with the diode in place I saw no more than 100 mV swing, probably from leakage.

  • This board works great… except for using the Xbee Pro models. They use close to 300mA and the Explorer board’s regulator can only supply 150mA!
    When sending commands with 1 second intervals, I have no problems (I assume this does not over-stress the regulator and it can supply these intermittent bursts of power), but when trying to send a steady stream of commands, the radio on the Pro models tries to draw more current than the Explorer boards can handle, therefore the voltage regulator overheats and temporarily shuts down, at which point you will notice a huge lag in the commands being sent/received (while the Xbee restarts after having lost power). This happens at every serial speed that I tested (1200, 2400, 9600, 19200, 38400, and 115200).
    I would highly recommend replacing the onboard micrel 5205 voltage regulator (150mA) with the micrel 5219 (500mA) or better on all of the Sparkfun Xbee explorer boards. This would allow them to truly support the Xbee pro models. I’m sure the customers of Sparkfun would be happy to pay an extra $0.50 for a beefier regulator.
    Otherwise, it works well!

    • As of early August, we have switched to a higher powered regulator. The new regulator is good for 500mA. You may have an older board, or are having other issues.

  • Before buying, keep in mind that this board does NOT level shift the 3.3V Tx line up to 5V. This means it will not be high enough to work with many 5V microcontrollers.
    For example, it’ll work with an ATmega168, but will not work with an ATmega640, ATmega1280, or ATmega2560.
    If you aren’t sure, get the XBee SIP Adapter by Parallax. It level shifts both ways as claimed. It costs more, but you’re guaranteed it’ll work without problems on your 5V mcu.

    • Also note that this is much less of an issue if you are using a PIC micro, as the min high levels are lower.

    • Actually, please read the above comment by madsci1016 - it explains the exact problem in much better detail.

  • For those who already have FTDI basic breakout, you could simply connect VCC to VCC, GND to GND, TXO(FTDI) to DIN(Xbee), RXI(FTDI) to DOU(Xbee). Then it will work like Xbee explorer usb. http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8687

  • @Usul - I was asking myself this same question. The answer is no. The V-reg is only spec’d for 150mA.
    @Valen - I question this too, as there’s no level shifter shown in the schematic. Digi says (but not in the manual from what I’ve seen :-() that the I/O pins are NOT 5V tolerant, so I don’t understand how/why they can say that above, at all.
    You both might take a look at Ladyada’s XBee adaptor kit,
    http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29&products_id=126
    She’s got a level-shifter on her UART and reset pins, and her V-reg is a little beefier at 250mA. You need to decide for yourself if/how 250mA will work for whatever you’re using it for.
    As for level-shifting the GPIOs, you’re on your own.

    • I still haven’t seen a good explanation of how this is performing level shifting on the Din Can anyone explain this? I understand the diode will provide about a .7 voltage drop, but that still only takes from 5v down to 4.3v. Any ideas for this electronically challenged person (me)?

  • Is the physical footprint and mounting hole pattern the same as that of the USB XBee Explorer? If not, would it be possible to get the physical dimensions? Thanks!

  • The link to “Eagle Files” actually goes to the gerbers.

  • Can I safely use the 5v pin on this board to power the xBee using a 3.7v LiPo cell? The radio seems to work fine if I power that 5v pin with 3v (2AA), but I want to be sure I would not be doing damage to either the battery or radio if I power it this way long-term.

  • the diode used in this product is a rectifier diode or a schottky diode?

  • Hey - I am using this with the ftdi basic breakout. I have explorer 5V to breakout VCC gnd to gnd DOUT to RX DIN to TX

    I tried switching the wires too but I’m still not geting “OK” in coolTerm with i do +++ My xbees work and respond when I use the regular xbee explorer sparkfun product, directly connected via usb to my computer. I’m not sure what else to try? Someone in the forum above said this does work but … I can’t get it to …thanks!

  • THE DIODE ISSUE RESOLVED I have just been using the Roving Networks XBee planform WiFi device which does not have an internal pullup to 3v3. Do not short out the diode as this pushes 5v into it…bad times. Solder a 10k or similar resistor between DIN on the XBee side of the diode and the 3v3 rail. On the Explorer there are horizontal pads either side of the black plastic XBee header. The 3v3 DIN and the 3v3 rail are next to each other so this is easy to do.

  • My board works just fine. Board is dated dated 8-7-09, I just order it 5-22-12.Used with XBEE (non-pro), but the regulator was updated to the 500ma version.

    I was experiencing an error while using this board, and thought it was the explorer like everyone else, but my problem lied in the XCTU programming. I even tested the DIN pin on the XBEE while connected and noticed that the voltage ranged from 5v down to ~1.2v while communicating via serial.

    I though oh, it because its not going down all the way to 0v or maybe ~.8v so then the XBEE doesnt detect a change in incomming bits (eg the serial line is always high from the XBEEs point of view. Really this was not a problem and just a clever trick on sparkfun’s part to lower part count and cost of the explorer board and still maintain 2-way communication between the 5v Arduino and 3.3v XBEE.

    My problem ended up being that the default setting, for XBEEs set up as end devices, of when to sleep was set up as cyclic. so when i tried to push data out onto the sleeping XBEE to transmit to the coordinator it wouldn’t send for a while until it woke up (and even then it lost all the sleeping data).

    While I’m prototyping power consumption isn’t a big deal to me since I’m hooked up to a 5v wall outlet, so i just took sleep mode off. Now when it comes time to to be battery powered just make sure to set the sleep setting to cyclic or whatever you want if you need to be power conscious.

    LONG STORY SHORT, beware of the sleep mode setting!

  • ATPR7FFF enter ATWR enter Sets DIN pull-up enabled.

  • hi im in Philippines, do you have any branch in philippines?

  • I am trying to transmit data from an explorer 16 board which has the dsPIC33FJ, to a the reciever which is connected to the laptop, do you have sample code on how i should transmit data from a digital pin or any advice

  • Weird question: Would that board work with input voltage of 3.2V? I know it says “you can connect a 5V (down to 3.3V) system”, but my system is providing right now 3.2V.
    I know that with that voltage I could just connect the xbee directly to the system without any type of extra regulation, but I wanted to use my explorer regulated because it makes it easier to plug on the breadboard, and also because of other reasons as well.

  • I am using this board with a pair of XBee 900 XSC modules on an Arduino Mega 2560, and I can confirm that the DIN diode (led) needs to be shorted in order to transmit. If your XBee receives fine but only transmits “.” or “00” (hex), then shorting the DIN led will fix the problem.
    Board is dated 8-7-09.

  • I would like to say the these catch on fire if you put more than 5 volts with the polarity reversed. the xbee is fine but the board is dead.

  • Hello,
    Can I use this with “Arduino Pro Mini 328 - 3.3V/8MHz”?
    I guess I don’t need to regulate voltage in this case.
    But this module’s design seems really fit to Arduino Pro Mini 3.3V.
    My question is “Is there any problem to use this with 3.3V of Arduino?"
    Does it works really well??

  • Can this take a direct 3.3v input or does it require at least a 5v input?

  • Yes you can save $15 if you already have an FTDI cable by using this instead of the regulated USB… but not if you wont RTFD. The TX/RX pins are inverted from FTDI so you will need to breakout your breadboard, or build up a jumper cable that swaps orange and yellow. Follow Nathan’s and/or ladyada’s tutorials for wireless bootloading. If you just want telemetry/command you dont need the remote reset line and its 2n2222 circuit - but you will not be able to program wirelessly without it.

    • Sure would be nice if the Rx/TX were inverted so I could get rid of these jumpers on my FTDI cable and plug this right into my bots. Please consider reversing in future boards.
      All in all this is nice board worthy of the sparkfun branding. minimal size. strait forward. easy to mod. Good documentation.

  • My xbee regulated was down. I realized that diode on the circuit does not work properly. Do you have any idea what it is? I want to replace with the new one.

  • Just bought 5 boards (May 2011) for a collection of XBee Pro 900s. It does not work. Will need to modify with a shifter on each one as discussed here.
    Tried it with a normal XBee Series 2 and works just fine out of the box. FYI, tried the Xbee Pro on the more $$$ USB explorer from 1 year ago and it works fine. Why is there a difference?
    Please take off the product description that it works with Pro versions, I don’t care if the 500ma fix is in, I just got some and they don’t work–now I need to ‘fix’ them.

  • How big a 5v power supply is needed? would 100ma work?

    • it will depend on which XBee you use and how much current it draws. Check the product page for the XBee you will use to see how much current it will draw.

      • Ok, I’m using XBee S2’s I’ll look them up … shows 45ma xmit and 40ma receive.
        any overhead to be concerned about with the regulator?

        • The new regulators are good for 500ma. Even while sourcing the max current through all of the I/O pins you should still be within the limits of the regulator.

  • Not sure if i am seeing things. But is RTS and DTR not brought out to the end of the board where the 5V, GND, DIN, DOUT lies. I see that you can use the pads that are in parallel with the Xbee headers just wondering if it is possible to connect everything to one end of the board. Thanks.

    • To answer my own question. RTS and DTR are not brought out to the end of the board. I just received them today. However, the actual Xbee modules themselves were missing from my order… Tisk Tisk SparkFun, I have contacted Customer Support.

      • To put it out there. Customer support contacted me back in a timely manner and sent the missing parts from my order via airmail free of charge. This is why Sparkfun is superior over other suppliers. Thank you for your excellent customer support.

  • Ok, so I just got the new Explorer Regulated, some Series 1 XBees, and after much toiling, I finally got wireless programming of an Arduino Pro 5v/16MHz.
    I used the following 2 tuts:
    http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/122 (still using stk500 through Arduino IDE)
    http://www.ladyada.net/make/xbee/arduino.html (did not do RTS on COM port)
    My problem is that my Arduino will now randomly reset while the XBee is connected. It seems to be related to specific actions, but I can’t figure why.
    1. Bring Pin 3 High….Reset
    2. Use Ethernet Client (w/ Shield)…Reset
    3. A few others have caused it, but harder to replicate.
    Someone help!!! I am happy to share my experience with wireless programming.

  • Another thing: it would be nice to have Sparkfun pull my changes to the Eagle CAD library on Github so that other people can benefit from my toiling over Eagle Parts. Github rocks for this sort of thing and there isn’t any reason the Sparkfun Eagle library can’t become THE library for hobbist parts. But only if pull in downstream changes are pulled in.

  • I just ordered a couple of these and it looks like from the comments that the LDO regulator has been upgraded to the 500ma version. This is good. So now, if the level shifters have been put in, then all should be well. If not, here is an article about what can be done with respect to level shifting. http://www.edn.com/article/464257-Don_t_pay_for_level_translators_in_systems_using_multiple_power_supply_voltages.php

  • is there a definitive answer here on whether or not these are safe to use? a lot of people are saying there needs to be a 5V to 3.3V level shifter.

  • How does this get connected to the arduino? does it just sit on top like a board?

    • You would need to wire it in. It needs 5V GND, and TX, and RX. If you run wires from those pins on the Arduino to the pins on the regulated board your all set. Sorry, it’s not like a shield. If you want something that stacks, check out the Xbee shield.

  • I got all the commands to work using X-CTU by Digi. That terminal works like a champ. I haven’t been able to figure out what the difference is. If anybody has any suggestions as to why that works better than other terminals, please let me know.

  • I am only able to get +++ to respond. Everything else returns nothing.
    I am using a Modern Device USB BUB board (http://shop.moderndevice.com/products/usb-bub) with the jumper for 3.3V.
    I even connected the DOUT of the XBee Explorer board to a SLO-SCOPE. When I send AT… nothing comes back. When I +++ I do get a response.
    I have tried cutecom, Arduino serial monitor and windows Hyperterminal… all do the same.. only response to +++
    Any suggestions? Thanks

  • Is anyone from Sparkfun going to acknowledge my comment on how this needs to be redesigned? If there’s a problem with my logic, please let me know. But if not, there’s a serious design flaw in this product. <br />
    <br />
    I’ll repeat:<br />
    <br />
    “Ok guys this board needs to be redesigned. We have countless problems over at SOR and I think I found the cause. <br />
    <br />
    The MIN High output voltage for an Xbee is only 0.82*VCC or 2.7 V. <br />
    <br />
    The MIN High input voltage for a 5V AVR is 0.6VCC or exactly 3.00V. <br />
    <br />
    2.7 is not greater then 3.0, so not every Xbee will be able to talk to 5V AVRs with out proper level shifting. You need to add a level shifter to the DOUT line of this board.”

  • Hi!
    Can you connect this directly to the razor 9dof IMU? (pins config and can the 3.3v from the IMU power the xbee?)

  • Hello.
    Can I connect a XBee Explorer Regulated to an Arduino Pro 3.3V?
    My doubt is related to the power supply to the XBee Explorer Regulated (5V).
    And in your opinion, which setup would be the best?
    - Arduino Pro 3.3V + XBee Explorer Regulated (power supply issue)
    - Arduino Pro 5V + XBee Explorer Regulated (I/O levels issue)
    Thanks!

  • Support for CTS should be added. The Tx RF buffer on the XBee is only 17 bytes. It can easily be overflowed. By adding CTS, fully interrupt driven transmit can be used.

    • CTS and RTS are brought out to the headers on the board, so you could certainly write software to support that functionality.

      • @MikeGrusin, how can one access the CTS and RTS pins, by soldering from underneath the board, since the XBee chip would be sitting on the top? I am not a hardware person, so I am sorry in advance if this is a silly question! Thanks.

        • Yes, if you look at the pictures on the product page, you can access the CTS and RTS pins from either side of the board (they’re only labeled on the bottom, however).

      • Hey thanks! I guess I missed that. I didn’t look at the back of the board.

  • Does anybody know if this board can accept an unregulated voltage input and which pin? There is a 5v pin but no others????

    • Check the schematic. 5V in can be anything up to ~12V really. The onboard 3.3V regulator will take care of the rest.

  • this requires headers as well, correct?

    • Hi,
      No headers required, we surface mount the Xbee headers, and then you can also access additional pins if you need to, but no additional headers needed.

  • I’m using this board and was wondering if there was a Vref in somewhere. Because I have a sensor on the end of the ADC but the xbee just reads high no matter what.
    I measured the voltage on the pin and that changes fine( 0-3.3V). The chip works because I can send digital inputs fine.
    Any suggestions?

  • I’m not sure if I got this for the right reason. I can use this as a way to communicate with an xbee and arduinio right? DOUT and DIN is like Tx and Rx right?
    Jon

  • What is the input voltage range for this device?
    What model of voltage regulator is used?
    thank you!

    • Hi Geoffrey,
      You can view the voltage regulator’s datasheet here.
      The maximum supply voltage shouldn’t exceed 16V (maximum rating on both the 10uF capacitor and max operating voltage of the regulator). Be really careful if you’re going to run it that high though, things could get toasty!
      -techsupport at sparkfun dot com

      • Thanks for posting that sheet - 150mA load regulator - might mean it may have problems handling XBee XSC modules that transmit at 240mA?
        Also - it appears the XSC pin assignments vary from the XBee and XBee Pro modules, so I’m not sure if any common Xbee regulator board will work with the XSC.
        See topic
        http://forum.sparkfun.com/viewtopic.php?p=84374

  • I was in need of a 3.3V regulator for a breadboard project I was working on. Having one of these on hand, it worked out well. The upper left pin in the XBee socket is regulated 3.3V and will fit a small wire that can be routed back to the breadboard.

  • a sugestion for the future:
    it would be nice if the explorer also provided cross-wire protection. if someone accidentially crossed the lines (conecting tx-tx instead of rx-tx) the tx pin might get burned.
    and a question:
    can the tx-pin get burned if its accidentially connected to the tx of a 3.3volt device or is it only a risk with 5v devices?

  • Hi! I would like to know if I can plug the DIN directly to the Arduino.
    Thanks in advance

  • This is a very useful and nice board - only I don’t quite understand why you swapped the RX and TX pins. With the current layout you cannot just plug it onto the FTDI basic breakout board, which would have been a really neat solution to connect the X-Bee’s to a PC for programming etc.

    • Have to second this one, especially since the product web page says, “The board was conveniently designed to mate directly with Arduino Pro boards and with the FTDI Basic boards for wireless bootloading and USB based configuration."
      I do not think it physically possible for any two of the three boards (Arduino Pro, FTDI Basic, XBee Explorer) to interface directly. It does look to me like the XBee Explorer will interface directly to an Arduino Pro (Mini). Of the three possible combinations of these three boards, one will always require a turnaround adapter.
      I’ll be soldering one up if anyone needs me. But I would change the statement on the web page.

      • said “wireless booting” means that the Explorer has to replace the FTDI, and so has to be wired the same as the FTDI, not the same as a device the FTDI plugs into, and therefore RX and TX are “switched” from what they would be on a device.

  • Just wanted to give people a heads up when they are purchasing this… the headers don’t match the pinout of a USB TTL-232 (FTDI) cable – so it won’t work with an FTDI cable. ;)

  • Yeah, this board would be much better if it had the TX half of http://www.sparkfun.com/products/8745 before the DOUT pin, that way I wouldn’t have to rig up my own when connecting this to a 5v arduino.


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