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What Is an XBee® Shield?

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  • Written By: Jean Marie Asta
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2016
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The Xbee® shield is an electronic device that works with an open-source software known as Arduino® — a platform environment that allows users to easily write and upload code to an Input/Output (I/O) board. The open-source platform runs on many operating systems (OS), is written with Java, and is based on other different types of software that are open-source such as the Processing application and avr-gcc. Arduino® software can be downloaded online and can incorporate this shield as part of the platform.

Using an Xbee® shield will allow Arduino® boards to wirelessly communicate Zigbee™. The shield comes from the basis of another Xbee® module and is able to communicate as far as 100 feet (30.5 meters) indoors and as far as 300 feet (91.4 meters) outdoors. It can also be used for replacing serials and USBs or put into command mode for configuration into an array of networking options, including mesh networking and broadcast networking. The Xbee® shield has pins sticking out of a solder pad, including pin headers of a female type for analog input use between pins 2 and 7. This particular shield will not obstruct pins 8 through 13 and the board headers can be used.

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Different modules made by Xbee® can be used with the Xbee® shield, and instructions can be found online for any series of these modules. Certain parameters in networks that use an Xbee® shield, such as addressing and configuration, need to be set to function properly. Usually, the default setting of modules and shields will allow two devices to communicate with one another. In the case that they are not properly configured, they must be set to the same channel and network. A parameter by the title “CH Parameter” sets the channel. Another parameter by the title “ID Parameter” sets the network.

Xbee® shields also have two jumpers that are labeled as Xbee®/USB. These jumpers determine how this shield’s serial communication will connect to a microcontroller’s serial communication. The jumpers can be set to Xbee® position, where two pins face the board’s interior, or USB position, where two pins face the board's edge. In Xbee® position, a module connects and communicates with the Xbee® shield. Switching to USB position allows the module to connect and communicate with a computer.

The Xbee® shield has been improved and modified throughout its life. Some revisions have fixed minor issues of labeling and spacing, while remaining functionally the same. The latest version works with series 1 and 2.5 Xbee® modules.

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