Arduino Xbee shields are here.
We’re very happy to announce that you now have another great option for wireless communication with Arduino boards. The new Arduino Xbee shields (with the Zigbee modules from Maxstream) allow you to form one-to-one or peer-to-peer networks and are a snap to get working. Here are some pictures that Gianluca took of the first shields as they came out of the oven.
Without any configuration, you can use the Xbee as a simple wireless replacement for a USB cable, sending and receiving data with the standard Arduino serial commands. Just slip shields onto two Arduino board and you’ve got a wireless network. Or you can put the Xbee into command mode and group them into networks – for example, to have multiple boards sending sensor data through a central Arduino to the computer. The Xbee module can transmit up to 100 feet indoors or 300 feet outdoors (with an unbroken line-of-sight). Replace it with an Xbee pro for outdoor communication over as much as a mile. All the pins of the Xbee module are broken out to allow use of the advanced features of the board. The complete schematics and design files for the boards are available under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license from the Libelium Squidbee wiki download page. You can order fully-assembled Xbee shields from from PCB Europe (in Italy) or from Libelium (in Spain). We hope to make them available in other countries soon – if you’re interested, let your local Arduino distributor know.
Probably the most exciting part of the Xbee shield is the story of its creation. Libelium, a spin-off of the University of Zaragoza, wanted to create “motes” for use in wireless sensor networks. They approached us with the idea creating a new Xbee shield for use both in the motes and as an add-on for standard Arduino boards – giving them a foundation for their product and providing our users with an easy method for Zigbee communication. We happily agreed, and so Marcos Yarza from Libelium created a design for the shield, we both invested in the production, and a little while later, the Xbee shields were here. We think this is a great example of how a corporate collaboration can create both a product for a company and an open piece of hardware for the Arduino community. We’d like to do more of it in the future.