XBees replacing USB cable

Hello I got a pair of XBee modules all synced up and I´m ready to install the airborne one. The other one will show up as a serial port in Windows for use by the Configurator app. 

Looking at Alpha RC1 I see regular ArduPilot telemetry isn´t in just yet but there is a way to route the USB console port to the Telemetry port instead so that hooking up XBee to that port will allow a wireless serial port instead of USB cable. Very neat. For Alpha this makes it possible to use XBee for Configurator access to the ArduCopter in a wireless way both for stationary calibration work and in flight (impressive demonstrator to show off how you can present live sensor data while in flight).

In addition to hooking up the serial lines from the Telemetry port to the XBee serial port board you set  a #define in the source and recompile so that the console port goes via the Telemetry port instead of the USB port.

In Alpha_RC1, to use the Telemetry port as console you add the line

#define IsXBEE

anywhere prior to the line 

#ifndef IsXBEE

in the sketch "Arducopter_alpha_RC1",
then recompile and upload new firmware.

On thursday I´ll add a post on how I paired up a couple of XBees using USB adapters
and finally added an XBee in the ArduCopter. Tomorrow is a tough day where I try to pass a skills assessment for a demanding consultant mission so I´ll be totally offline.

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Replies

  • I had a chance to play more with this now and completed my ArduCopter build. I now have XBee communication and also installed a magnetometer.  

     

    I used two Seeed Studio "UartsBee" cards as motherboards for my XBee modules.These are tiny USB adapter cards that also feature four pins for direct UART connection. Basically when the USB jack is not connected (no power coming from USB) you can feed 5Volts from the IMU Telemetry Port to this board via its UART header pins. It´s somehow a mystery to me how the XBee communication can work because I expected the Telemetry port to require TTL levels ? But looking closely at the UartsBee schematic in this non-USB mode the XBee TX/RX pins feed directly out on these pins albeit via a pair of resistors. This was confusing at first because the TX/RX connector markings on the UartsBee card means TX/RX of the UART chip onboard the card while the XBee chip obviously has its RX connected to TX of the UART and vice versa. So when I swapped my RX/TX wiring things came to life.

    I better take care because I run ZNET 2.5 (2.4 GHz) on chip antenna XBees at the same time as using a 2.4 GHz Futaba TX/TX. And the airborne bee sits very close to the RX :)   Maybe it´s the Futaba FASST spread spectrum hopping at play because at least in my brief living room tests I see no disturbance. Will see if things run havoc tomorrow at the premiere outdoor flight. I´ll do some range testing first. I run the other XBee with the second UartsBee module connected to a MacBook Pro with USB, then map this port to VirtualBox (the Sun Oracle VM) where I run WIndows 7 and Configurator...    I´ll add some more later on the way I paired the two XBees.

  • there is a line "//#define IsXBEE" you just need to uncomment it
  • I am also using xbees with RC1 and I can already use the configurator over the xbees to change the settings on the arducopter. And I didn't have to modify anything or add anything to the code.
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