Today we are going to examine a small yet useful kit from adafruit industries – their XBee adaptor kit. The purpose of doing so was to save some money. How? I needed another XBee USB explorer board to connect a PC to an XBee (as we have done in Moving Forward with Arduino – Chapter Fourteen), but they are around Au$33. However I already have an FTDI USB cable, so all I really need is this kit, as it will work with the FTDI cable. So this saves me around $20.
As usual the adafruit kit packaging is simple, safe and reusable:
The components included are good as usual, including a great solder-masked, silk-screened PCB and an excess of header pins. Got to love a bonus, no matter how small:
This did not take very long to assemble at all. After checking the parts against the parts list, it was time to fire up the iron and solder away. As usual the kit is almost over-documented on the adafruit web pages. But that is a good thing…
Be careful when you place R3, make sure it doesn’t lean in towards the end of the IC too much, otherwise they could touch, or even worse – stop the IC from being seated properly:
Regular readers will know I get annoyed when IC sockets are not included with kits – but for the first time it is fine with me. If you use a socket, the IC will be elevated too much and stop the XBee from being inserted onto the board. But apart from R3 almost stopping the show, everything went smoothly. At the time you need to solder in the 2mm header socket strips for the XBee, the easiest way (if possible) is to seat an XBee in the sockets, then into the PCB:
Once you have followed the excellent instructions, the last thing to solder is the pins for the FTDI cable. You can either lay them out flat on the PCB, or insert them through the holes. This is my preferred way, and seating the lot in a breadboard to hold it steady is a good idea:
And finally, we’re finished:
A quick check with Windows to ensure everything is OK:
And we are ready for communications. This was a very simple and inexpensive board to assemble – and excellent value if you need USB connection to your PC and you already have an FTDI cable.
Well I hope you found this review interesting, and helped you think of something new to make with XBees. You can purchase the kit directly from adafruit industries.
As always, thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments and so on. Furthermore, don’t be shy in pointing out errors or places that could use improvement. Please subscribe using one of the methods at the top-right of this web page to receive updates on new posts. Or join our new Google Group. High resolution images are available on flickr.
[Note – The kit was purchased by myself personally and reviewed without notifying the manufacturer or retailer]