XBee radios Which XBee radio module is right for you?
Introduction

There are about half a dozen different XBee modems. Its a good idea to at least review the differences between them so that you can make sure that you have the right power, range and network compatibility for your project

For the examples on the site, I use the XBee 802.15.4 modules. These are low cost ($20), reasonably low power and are the most popular XBees used by hobbyists for simple wireless communication.

Families

There are half a dozen 'families' of XBee & its important to know the differences

Name Frequency Network type Max Range (Pro) Notes Convertable to... Distributors, antenna type
XBee 802.15.4 2.4GHz point-to-multipoint 300' (1 mile) most popular, cheap XBee DigiMesh 2.4 Digikey (Wire $19), Digikey (Chip $23)
Mouser (Wire $20), Mouser (Chip $19)
XBee DigiMesh 2.4 2.4GHz mesh 300' (1 mile)   XBee 802.15.4  
XBee Pro 900 900 MHz point-to-multipoint 6 miles   XBee DigiMesh 900  
XBee DigiMesh Pro 900 900 MHz mesh 6 miles   XBee 900  
XBee XSC Pro 900 MHz both 15 miles long range    
XBee ZB
"Series 2"
2.4 GHz mesh 400' (1 mile) ZigBee XBee ZNet

XB24-Z7CIT-004
XB24-Z7WIT-004
XB24-Z7UIT-004
XB24-Z7SIT-004

XBee ZB
"Series 2" Pro
2.4 GHz mesh   ZigBee XBee ZNet

XBP24BZ7CIT-004
XBP24BZ7WIT-004
XBP24BZ7UIT-004
XBP24BZ7SIT-004

The XBee 900 and XBee DigiMesh 900 operate at 900 MHz and so they cannot communicate with the 2.4 GHz frequency XBees!

The DigiMesh & ZNet 2.5 modules are preconfigured for mesh networking, not point-to-point or point-to-multipoint connectivity

The XBee 802.15.4 operate at 2.4 GHz but are not compatible with the ZNet/ZB/"series 2" modules!

If you just want to wirelessly send data from one place to another chances are you'll be most happy with the low cost XBee 802.15.4

Pro?

For some of the families, the module is available in both a low-power and Pro version. The Pro version often has an extra amplifier for longer range. However this means that the power required to run the modules is also a lot higher! The adapter can be outfitted with either kind of module but research and testing is often necessary to determine which one is suitable for your needs. Some Pro modules use a lot of power, The ones that need 265mA should work fine but if your version/antenna needs 300mA, you may need a better power supply to power it.

Antennas

There are three different antenna-options available for the XBee radios:

  1. Chip
  2. Wire
  3. UFL
  4. RP-SMA

The chip and wire antennas are already on the board and don't require any work on your end. The UFL and RP-SMA options are just connectors, they require an antenna tuned to the correct frequency and with the proper connector in order to function!

Unless you are doing something that requires a special antenna for directed or high power transmission, the chip or wire antenna options will be just fine

May 17, 2011 20:07