Microchip develop the proprietary MiWi protocol as an alternative to heavier wireless platforms like ZigBee and TCP/IP over 802.11 wireless solutions. The new MiWi Pro handles 802.15.4 mesh networks with up to 8000 modes and 64 hops. Even the advanced MiWi coordinator stack is only around 25 Kbytes. This is much smaller than ZigBee stacks.
Initially there was a peer-to-peer MiWi and standard MiWi. The standard MiWi mesh network handled a couple hundred nodes. MiWi Pro moves the platform to even larger environments.
One way to try out MiWi is Microchip's new 8-bit Wireless Development Kit (Fig. 1). It contains a pair of PIC18 XLP microcontroller boards and two PICtail MRF24J40 transceiver modules. The PICtail boards are available in 2.4 GHz, 868 MHz and 915 MHz versions. The development boards can run off batteries. They include a temperature sensor and LCD display.
Microchip also released the ZENA Wireless Adapters. These USB dongles use the same modules as on the MRF24J40. The dongles can be used with the new Wireless Development Studio (Fig. 2). The cross-platform sofware runs on Linux, Mac OS and Windows. The software can take advantage of the ZENA module's sniffer and debugger support.
Software development is usually done using Microchip's free MPLAB. MPLAB X (see NetBeans Powers New PIC IDE) is the latest incarnation of Microchip's integrated development environment. The MiWi protocol stacks are a free download as well.