Personal Weather Station

A weather station based on the Raspberry Pi

4. Configuring the XBee modules

The first step in setting up our XBee wireless link is to program both XBee modules. We will need one coordinator to setup the network and to transfer the received data to the Raspberry PI. We will also need at least one end device to be the remote sensor unit.

In order to configure each XBee module we need to flash the appropriate firmware into the module and then change some of the default firmware settings to match our requirements.

4.1 USB programming adapters

To program the XBee modules we need a programming adapter. A programming adapter is simply a USB to serial converter. You can make your own, but it is highly recommend that you buy one. Ideally you should buy two. By having two programming adapters, you can create and test a simple wireless link between two XBee modules using your computer, without having to build any hardware. This makes debugging initial communication issues much easier.

Figure 4.1 shows an example of a programming adapter made by a company called Sparkfun. This is available through Sparkfun as the XBee Explorer USB.

Figure 4.1: XBee USB programming adapter

4.2 Installing FTDI drivers

Most of the programmers for XBee modules use the FTDI USB to serial chip. Before plugging in your USB programmer to your computer, make sure to download and install the FTDI VCP (virtual com port) drivers. You can find the drivers here:

FTDI USB drivers

After installing the drivers, you can test them by plugging in one of the XBee programming adapters. If the drivers were installed correctly, you should see a new COM port detected in device manager. When you unplug the programming adapter, the COM port should disappear from the device manager.

4.3 Installing XCTU

XCTU is the programming software for the XBee modules. It is free to download and use. It relies on connecting to the XBee modules through a COM port so make sure that you have already installed the FTDI VCP drivers. You can download and install X-CTU using the instructions found here:

Digi XCTU download

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Updated: April 3, 2016.

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