Using XBee Module

XBee has gaining it popularity in robotics for wireless communication because of its easiness to use feature. Power it up and you can straight away transmit and receive wireless data transparently. But, you might have problem interface with it because the pin is not standard. You cannot simply buy XBee module and solder to your donut board, or even plug into your breadboard. Thus, Cytron provide a breakout board for user to extend the XBee module pins.

*This tutorial is designed for those wanted to use XBee/BlueBee/RFBee module without SKXBee or XBee shield. Once you soldered the module onto the breakout board, it is difficult, nearly impossible to de-solder and change the module. With that, the pins are not compatible with most of XBee shield, and also SKXBee. If you plan to use with SKXBee or XBee shield, this tutorial is not relevant for you.

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When we ship XBee module (Not SKXBee) to customer, the XBee module comes with a green color breakout board. We have included in as a package. Seem to be easy, but not quite. Some steps need to be taken before you can utilize this breakout board.

First, do get yourself some header pin, at least 20 pins as shown here.

xbee005.jpg

Cut the header pin to obtain 2 x 10 pins and plug into the inner row of the breakout board. Remember, the long side of header pin should be at the “down” side of breakout board while the short header pin should be at “UP” side of breakout board.

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DO NOT solder the wrong side…… If you are ready, please solder the header pin to breakout board properly and completely! Do not miss a single pin because you will have no chance to fix it later.

If you have completed the soldering, let’s try to plug in the XBee module.

*Once you soldered XBee module permanently, it will be very difficult to remove or exchange it.  If you plan to use the XBee on other platform such as SKXBee, the breakout board is not necessary.

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Take your XBee module, plug it into this breakout board. Remember! The long header pin is at the bottom.

xbee011.jpg

Yup, it should look something like this from the side. If you notice, the bottom of XBee module is a iron shielding casing, this is normal for RF (Radio Frequency) device. It is to shield the RF from emitting out and also to shield the external RF from getting in. Anyway, the main thing that we need to take care is to prevent the short header pin (where we solder)touch the iron shielding casing. If is does, it will cause short circuit between header pin and you will get a damage XBee, also void the warranty. Say goodbye to your XBee. So, either you need to leave a gap between the header pin and shielding casing….. or I can recommend a simpler method. Just paste a paper sticker there like this:

xbee012.jpg

Yup, simple and effective to prevent short circuit. Now, plug the XBee module in and start the soldering. Please do not press the XBee module as you might tear the paper sticker and cause short circuit. Also please take care of the orientation:

* If you want the XBee to be detacheable  even with this breakout board, you may utilize 10 way 2mm pitch to pitch female header. You need to order 2 of it, this header does not come with the module.

This time around, you need to solder the XBee module from the back of breakout board where there is a “DOWN” label. Solder every pin properly.

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When you are done with the soldering, you will get a XBee module with standard header pin where you can plug in to your donut board or breadboard.

xbee020.jpg

There you go, the XBee is on a standard donut board.

Yet, the hard work is not completed. Do remember, XBee module is 3.3V device. Do not simply power it with the output from 5V regulator or direct interface with 5V operated microcontroller.

Good luck with your wireless project. Do discuss your feedback and suggestion in our technical forum as we do not take care of comments in blog often 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Using XBee Module

  1. This is a great sharing…..I did have 2 XBee on hand. They are really easy to use, the X-CTU software is free and powerful. This breakout board really help in the interface a lot. Thanks for showing us how to do it, though I get myself SKXBee already, another great product.

  2. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work

  3. i had follow ur direction on solder it into d breakout board….. after solder ? how we program it with the programmer module ?

    stupid ist it ? why dun u provide any another 2mm female pin !!

  4. after solder xbee to breakout board…. the xbee cannot interface anymore with SKXBEE again…. please solve this problem…

  5. The warning message in red color is there at the beginning of this post.
    “*This tutorial is designed for those wanted to use XBee/BlueBee/RFBee module without SKXBee or XBee shield. Once you soldered the module onto the breakout board, it is difficult, nearly impossible to de-solder and change the module. With that, the pins are not compatible with most of XBee shield, and also SKXBee. If you plan to use with SKXBee or XBee shield, this tutorial is not relevant for you.”

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