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Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - Zanthic - 07-31-2009

I have been playing around with these Xbee modules
and finally got around to combining the Xbee's, some packet processing software written in VB6 and Fonceur's field generator CQC driver

[Image: XbeetoCQCdataflow.jpg]

What this means is that at $20 a piece, I can have wireless I/O nodes with roughly 11 I/O pins that can be configured for digital inputs, outputs and analog inputs. There is also a build in RS232 port that you can send data to/from but I have not done anything with this as far as CQC is concerned.

The modules can also be set to power up, transmit their data and power down for those sensors that are input only and you don't need a fast response (like a temperature sensor). This should make running them off a 9v battery possible but I haven't tested this yet.

The middleware software is required due to the complexity of processing the packet structure (as opposed to doing this within a CQC driver) You can give each I/O point a field name and using Fonceur's field generator driver, the CQC fields show up as digital inputs, outputs and analog inputs with the name you've assigned. This software is working but it is far from finished.

The reason I am mentioning this is to gauge the interest in this and to see if there are others interested in helping with development and/or testing and/or documentation. This would ultimately be no cost software and all the hardware is available from places like Digikey. Other companies make various plug in boards for the XBee to allow for power supply connection and various I/O drivers etc.

And, before somebody asks, yes, the Xbee modules run standard Zigbee protocol but no, it will not work with other Zigbee equipment because the data running on top of the Zigbee protocol is based on their internal I/O commands. Ultimately these same modules may provide access from CQC to other Zigbee devices but that is a project for another day!


Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - AnthonyZ - 07-31-2009

Whatever you need, man, let me know. I'm no coder (I've been playing with C++ and ActionScript but, I'm really an art school guy). I do however have a few projects that I've done using the Xbee modules and I love 'em. I've got a handful of Xbee's in my 'lab' that are itching to beta test your work. It would be nice to find a way to drop it into CQC without using, say, a serial Arduino and the Generic Serial Trigger Driver.

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - sic0048 - 08-01-2009

Sounds like it would be a great addition to CQC.

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - Zanthic - 08-02-2009

AnthonyZ, thanks for your comments. Do you have any I/O boards for them? Can you change your firmware if we need too? I am running the ZB/API version. I suspect the first step would be to get a few boards up and running and make them do something useful and I think others would see the benefit in using them. I'll keep working on my program and let you know when I have something you can play with. How are you with documentation? :-D
I designed a couple of test boards that will come this week that will allow me to prototype some sensors. I can post the files if anybody wants to order and build their own circuit boards but I suspect it would be easier to buy pre-made ones. I'll make a list of companies that sell boards and Xbee modules.

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - AnthonyZ - 08-03-2009

I do have have a few breakout boards, Sparkfun's USB Explorer, a few Arduino's laying around and I will most likely be buying some more XBee/Arduino shields in the near future (which works as a good connection to an Xbee if you pull the AVR chip). As for documentation, I would be willing to document anything you need from me. One of my pet peeves about CQC is the poor device driver documentation. I wish they all read like the doc's for the Radio RA driver. Alas, most don't.

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - Dean Roddey - 08-07-2009

It seems to me that Zigbee should be a really good thing for the automation world once it really starts kicking in. I think that, as is all too often, the dream of universal interoperation will not work out as many people would like, both for technical and political/business reasons. But having a serious wireless mesh network system out there that's fast enough to move some real data should open up a lot of possibilities.

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - anogee - 08-27-2009

I've been asked by the CoCoonTech folks to write a white paper of sorts for their site. It will be done in a few days, and I'll post a link here. But anyway, as a wireless analyst following the technology for many years, I really had my doubts that anything would become of it. Slowly it moved along, and in the last few years its been coming together. Its just at the cusp, but what it will eventually do will knock your socks off. RF4CE will replace IR blasters and all the crazy IR codes, wireless alarm sensors will be ZigBee, you'll be able to tap into all your utility meters without so much as even getting near them, and of course wireless ZigBee light switches goes without saying.

More later, but for now, you should check out the list of companies behind ZigBee.

It's kept a pretty low profile, I know, but ZigBee may be the biggest advance in home automation since .... CQC. :-D

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - AnthonyZ - 08-31-2009

Any development here, Zanthic? I am quickly moving into Halloween mode which tends to take over September through October (though I sculpt and build props year round). In other words, if there's been movement, I'd love to play with it but in a couple of weeks I'll 'disappear' for awhile.

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - Zanthic - 08-31-2009

I've worked on it a but have run into a snag with the Field Generator driver that I haven't had a chance to think through. I may have to compromise and make the first version very simplistic just to test the feasibility.

Zigbee based I/O system using XBee modules - anogee - 09-01-2009

O.K. I posted a link to my ZigBee article in the General Automation section.


So I was wondering, is there a cheaper ZigBee device that you connect to your PC as opposed to using the $299 development kit? And is the development kit just used for testing?