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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    E-Textile Tailor Shop by KOBAKANT
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    Since 2020, Hannah is guest professor of the Spiel&&Objekt Master's program at the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch in Berlin

    From 2013-2015 Mika was a guest professor at the eLab at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee

    From July - December 2013 Hannah was a researcher at the UdK's Design Research Lab

    From 2010-2012 Mika was a guest researcher in the Smart Textiles Design Lab at The Swedish School of Textiles

    From 2009 - 2011 Hannah was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab's High-Low Tech research group led by Leah Buechley

    In 2009 Hannah and Mika were both research fellows at the Distance Lab

    Between 2003 - 2009 Hannah and Mika were both students at Interface Cultures
    We support the Open Source Hardware movement. All our own designs published on this website are released under the Free Cultural Works definition

    Xbee dongle

    To communicate with Xbee from your computer, you need to make serial or USB/serial connection between your computer and Xbee.
    There are some Xbee-USB dongles you can buy, such as XBee Explorer USB from Sparkfun or USB-XBEE-DONGLE-CARRIER from New Micros.
    Also, here is a nice site that shows how to make your own USB-Xbee dongle (I think you still need to buy their PCB though) 

    From Left: Sparkfun Xbee breakout board, 2mm-2.5mm pin connected with ribbon cable, USB dongle from New Micros, XBee Explorer USB from Sparkfun

    I usually use USB dongle from New Micros, but if I do not have one, or for some reason if I need quick and cheap solution, I use Arduino Diecimila. (Arduino Diecimila has 3.3v output already, so it makes it easier. You can use 3.3v regulator and use other kind of Arduino too.)
    To use Arduino as USB dongle, take off the ATmega168 chip from the socket. This way nothing is communicating with TX RX port to your USB connection.
    Now, connect your Xbee to breadboard. The tricky thing is that Xbee’s pins are 2mm header and normal breadboard or Arduino has 2.5mm spacing sockets. It simply does not fit! (This is quite disappointing when you finally decide to try out Xbee at night and notice that you can not even connect to a breadboard..)
    So, unless you want to directly solder to the Xbee pins, you need 2 of 2mm 10pin sockets and 2.5mm 10pin headders to make a pin size converter. You can find various products which do this such as Breakout Board for XBee Module,I usually use simple hand made converter, which is 2mm socket connected to 2.5mm socket connected with ribbon cable (see pic above).
    After you get your Xbee connected to breadboard, make the Xbee pins connection to Arduino as following.

    And it should look like this somehow…

    Now you can connect the USB cable on from Arduino to your computer, and it should see it as USB-serial port. (do not forget to check if the power jumper on Arduino is on USB side)

    6 Comments so far

    1. Wagner Sartori Junior on September 5th, 2011

      If you connect arduino TX/RX directly to XBee DIN/DOUT, it’s possible that you burn your xbee because of 5V line level on arduino.

      XBee datasheet says that it’s NOT 5v tolerant so you HAVE to convert the logic to 3.3v.

      You can use sparkfun’s logic level converter or using 2 x 10k resistors to make a voltage divider on TX->DIN line. You don’t need to convert DOUT->RX because arduino will understando 3.3v logic on USART.

    2. […] such as XBee Explorer USB from Sparkfun or USB-XBEE-DONGLE-CARRIER from New Micros. (Reference: http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=204) […]

    3. Roadieflip on May 17th, 2012

      Instead of removing the chip from the board and risking the possibility of bending the pins, put a jumper wire from reset to ground. This will send the chip into reset and basically disable it (turning it into a serial adapter).

      Just a little trick I picked up while learning about attiny85 and BlinkM’s.

    4. Roadieflip on May 17th, 2012

      And instead of a logic level converter, you can use resistors in a voltage divider to drop the levels down to 3.3V. (Saves on waiting for the postman and uses components you should already have in your parts box)

    5. » Voodoo Bear Process on November 26th, 2012

      […] to make the bear wireless using the XBee, but unfortunately were unsuccessful. We tried using this site, which was helpful, along with the Wireless Communication chapter of the book Making things Talk, […]

    6. […] to the rescue, we found out that you don’t really need any of those boards if you already have an Arduino […]

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