Part 1: XRF, Bee Adapter v1.4 and Arduino

Trying to slowly assemble the hardware to build a quadcopter (sigh), I got myself a pair of Ciseco’s XRF modules and a Xbee USB Dongle (Bee Adapter v1.4).

XBee Adapter Back

XRF and XBee Adapter

(You can read more about the XRF modules here: http://www.ciseco.co.uk/content/?p=1738)

The Ciseco XRFs are nice little buggers, they work at various frequencies, in the 1KHz range. I find this great because it’s far away from the 2.4GHz noise (microwave, wireless phone stations, wifi and bluetooth). Sure, it may be illegal or require a license in your country but who cares? (Actually, readers that live in more developed and orderly parts of the world, YOU should…)
The XRFs are very nice, since they have the form and pins of the Zigbees (Xbees, whatever), so you practically can use one wherever you’d use a Xbee. Just for a much lower price and various frequencies.

Since my project involved sometime being able to use an Android Phone with the XRFs, I bought the Bee Adapter from DX.com, which has serial and usb access. The Arduino I had bought a while ago, just upgraded it with a prototyping shield.

Notice something is missing? Yeah, it so happens that I completely forgot that to do anything with the modules, I’d need to connect the TWO of them. But I only bought one adapter. Genius, right?

Even so, they finally arrived. Shipping from the UK to Brazil is actually quite fast. From HK or US it’d probably get stuck in customs for a while…

The Bee Adapter was a bit different from the picture at DX, though seemed legit. Got two toggles that let you choose between High/Low, which seems to be power consumption, and 3v3/5v.

XBee Adapter Back

XBee Adapter Back

So! Let’s connect’em… Power levels fail via usb… power status led barely shines with the XRF module… Hmmm, XRF module must be using a lot of power! (shouldn’t but who knows..) So I plugged it in my newest Prototyping shield, wired up the serial connectors and blam… It worked fine with the Arduino. Tested it for the +++ command which get’s it to enter the config mode, it sends OK.

XBee Adapter Back

Arduino with Prototyping shield, Xbee Adapter and XRF module.

Great little adapter doesn’t work via USB… I’d guess it needs a current limiter, didn’t care to debug it…

Aaaaand there was the need for the other adapter more than ever, specially because the Xbee modules pins are not breadboard compatible…yay…


3 Responses to “Part 1: XRF, Bee Adapter v1.4 and Arduino”

  1. 1 adam C
    2013/12/03 at 17:44

    Did you ever get the USB connection working on the adapter Bee? I am having the same issue, please let me know.

    • 2013/12/03 at 21:16

      Sorry, no.
      I bought myself one from sparkfun and it worked fine.
      To painful to try to reverse engineer the schematics to try to find de culprit… problaby a resistor that’s too big.

      • 3 adam c
        2013/12/04 at 14:28

        I ended up using arduino to program but I’d rather have the USB adapter bee. I tried wiring like I did with the arduino and no success but have another wiring to try as well. Just can’t figure what it is in the adapter that’s blocking or not passing the signal

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