Test setup for Zigbee (and Arduino)

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Test setup for Zigbee (and Arduino)

Postby Digit » Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:24 pm

This weekend i’ve been working on a setup to be able to test various things with the exciting Digi XBee modules that i’ve purchased some time ago.

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DSC_2086_resize.JPG (102.17 KiB) Viewed 190 times


As you can see there are 2 different types of XBee modules placed on the breadboard; there are 3 (a bit smaller) XBee Series 2 modules and 3 (larger) XBee-PRO modules. I also included an RBBB, a very small Arduino compatible device, that is located on the lower half of the board and is connected to the 6th XBee module. On the lower right side of the board there’s a 3.3V regulator to power the XBee modules.

First thing that had to be done was programming the upper row of 5 Digi XBee modules with the right firmware to let them all act as a End Device in AT/Transparent mode, and do some wiring. The XBee breakout board had already been soldered some time ago. I also added some LEDs for visualizing the status of the modules. After that, it was time do do some testing of my Domotica software to interface with these modules. Commands like “IS” for sampling the Digital/Analog IO ports on the modules. Here the first problem came up; the command did execute correctly cause i got a response back, but the payload of the frame was empty.. of course, after some time i realized i forgot to enable any of the I/O on the modules… :-(

Next command on the list was the ZigBee Transmit Request Command. This command is used for sending data to a module where it will be sent to the UART. This way it will arrive at the device that is attached to the XBee, in my case the RBBB. This allows me to communicate with the Arduino wirelessly. All worked well, i got the right responses back and i saw data arriving on the RBBB.

Now it was time to start sending data from the RBBB to my Domotica system. Here the default sleep mode of the Zigbee took some time to resolve. The first sketch for the RBBB sent some text to the XBee every 15 seconds. But this only arrived on my PC once every 2 minutes or so… and i didn’t know why. Changing the sketch and now sending the same text every second, made the problem go away… Suddenly i realized is was the default sleep mode that was bugging me! The default sleep mode for an XBee with this firmware is “Cyclic Sleep”, which means the module is only awake periodically. Of course, sending data to the UART of a sleeping XBee doesn’t work… I tried to change Sleep mode to 0 (”always awake”) but that’s not even supported! Hmm, fortunately there’s a workaround for this: set sleep mode to 1 (”Pin Hibernate”), ground Pin 9 (the yellow wire in the picture does that) and you’re done. In a battery powered environment you would use the RBBB I/O to wake up the module. While trying to change the sleep mode on a specific module the use of the LED really payed off, cause suddenly the LED for the wrong module went off.. it seemed i had addressed the wrong module with the Sleep mode set to Pin Hibernate command. Typically a case of where you can keep on searching for hours and hours why it’s not working as expected, and all you did wrong was addressing the wrong module…

Now i have a sketch running on the RBBB that transmits a small text every 10 seconds and it will echo anything that is received. This way i can start testing how reliable the combination of XBee and Arduino really is.
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