Pull the XBee radios out of the box and they're ready to go as ZigBee transceivers for short-range applications with low data rates. Developed by MaxStream, they conform to the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and use Freescale's MC1319x chip set.
Available with USB or RS-232 interfaces, these devices operate in the 2.4-GHz band at up to 250 kbits/s. They use 16 channels of direct-sequence spread spectrum, and over 65,000 network addresses are available. Also, they can be used anywhere a point-to-point or point-tomultipoint wireless connection is needed. OEMs and system integrators will find it easier than ever to incorporate wireless links into their designs without heavy RF experience.
The lower-cost XBee unit has a lineof-sight range of up to 300 feet at 250 kbits/s. Indoor and urban environments reduce the range to about 100 ft at the same data rate. It outputs just 1 mW, and the receive sensitivity is -92 dBm.
When powered down, the unit draws only 10 µA.
The XBee-PRO has a line-ofsight range of 4000 ft with a 250-kbit/s rate (see the figure). Indoor range is about 300 ft. The power-out is 100 mW, and the receive sensitivity is --100 dBm. Both units operate from 2.8 to 3.3 V. Antenna options include a chip antenna, a U.FL RF connector that connects to PSMA-type antennas, a wire antenna, and a 2.1-dBi dipole.
The ZigBee Alliance is developing multiple applications, including mesh networking. The XBee units can be reconfigured with a flash firmware download.
The XBee products come in a rugged aluminum package. Single units cost $99. Quantity discounts are available.