How to program an XBee ZigBee module?

I have a project which the information from the microcontroller (drop rate changes of dextrose like sending notification "nearly empty" or "Sudden change of drop rate. Drop rate of 15 automatically return to 14") would display in an application in a computer. I am thinking of using ZigBee and it would be responsible for transferring the information but I am new with the technology.

Does anyone could help me how to program the ZigBee module? I have seen some articles saying that it could be programmed in eclipse CDT. I am bit confused how to get start.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


  1. Use USB Explorer device (or similar) to enter a serial terminal session on the receiving XBee.
  2. Type ATMY to get the receiving XBee's address. Write it down.
  3. Put the sender in the USB Explorer and type ATDL plus the receiver's address, like "ATDL798A728"
  4. Type ATWR to save this setting.
  5. Attach sender XBee's UART (TX and RX pins) to microcontroller.
  6. Plug receiving XBee into USB Explorer attached to computer.
  7. Run Processing sketch or similar to read from the serial port.

The two XBees will run by default in 'transparent mode,' which pipes data coming into one UART out of the other UART, exactly like a wire. So when your microcontroller writes data into the sender XBee, it will come out of the receiving XBee and be read (and displayed or whatever you need) by your software.

It really depends on how much configuration your installation can handle. Is this a one off installation, or a "system" of products you want to make that have to be able to work together in whatever configuration they're bought?

As already explained, xbee modules that have the whole radio + stack already setup and working for serial data are simple to use for the trivial case of you sending out a few pre-paired setups form the lab, or even site installation by an expert.

If your embedded devices have to find each other automatically, then you'd need a way to get the embedded microcontroller to get the modules discover each other, make a connection, and then have the application code in the embedded microcontrollers talk to each other and identify what they need to do with each other.

In this case, you probably would be better off with the (upfront much more complex and likely expensive) design where the zigbee stack is inside the embedded controller, so your application code can use it properly to control connectivity.

The TI zigbee pro evaluation kit is very comprehensive, and seems great to me so far. It sounds like you're at the point where you need to spend some money and get some experience with real modules, just to get a feel for the technology. Though be warned, you may need IAR embedded workbench to work with these long term, and that's pretty expensive software!

Alternatively, Atmel have a pretty interesting looking zigbee implementation with their "bitcloud" software platform (free zigbee pro stack!! woo! and they have a free ARM toolchain!) but I've found the getting started info around the bitcloud stuff is really lacking, and while I can get the code setup and compiling, I'm not confident to buy enough of their evaluation gear for a zigbee pro mesh network to test it in real life yet.

PS: if you're getting started with short range wireless, i can't recommend this book highly enough.

It contains very good introduction to the different technologies available, and the strengths and weaknesses of all of them (and wireless in general) Plus it will leave you in a good position to start understanding the features you really need for the system you're designing.

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