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Build your own Wireless Sensor Network Using XBee and the 32 Bit Experimenter

25 Nov Posted by in Media News | Comments Off
Build your own Wireless Sensor Network Using XBee and the 32 Bit Experimenter

In Nuts and Volts  Dec 2102  article we apply the full power of the 32 bit Micro Experimenter  in two different wireless sensor network applications. Each application will demonstrate the power and use of the Microchip PIC32 as a base station and the XBee series 1 805.4 (ISM 2 band) RF unit from Digi International for both a base station (see Figure 1) and remote sensor RF modules.

The XBee is a de facto standard wireless sensor module that is easy to use, inexpensive, and readily available for the hobbyist and engineering communities. It is well supported with PC dongles as USB to XBee interfaces are available from a number of vendors. Digi-International X-CTU software is also available to assist and test XBee setups and configuration. A very cool thing about the XBee is that it can be used as a standalone as well as with a microcontroller. We will examine both uses in our demos as we construct our wireless sensor network.  We will focus on minimal use of the dongle and X-CTU and rely on having our networks remotely configured from the 32 bit Experimenter base station. In the course of our demos we will also introduce a “simplified” Application Programming Interface (API) that can be easily adapted by you for your own wireless network applications. KibaCorp is introducing a plug-in carrier module for the XBee that  is available through the Nuts and Volts Web Store. This plug-in module supports the XBee direct plug-in with the Experimenter, as well as functioning as a standalone remote with battery operation and an external connector for digital/analog sensor and output control hook-up. The carrier module has an on board +3.3V regulation for battery operation, and supports power and activity LEDs. The activity LEDs are associated with data in, data out, received signal strength (brightness varies with strength of received signal), active sleep condition, and finally, network association (normally blinks on power up).