The ArduCopter & ArduPilot Mega telemetry kit utilizes the Xbee Pro 2.4 GHz 63mw modules; this is the kit for use in the UK, EU and other parts of the world where the 900 MHz Xbee’s can’t be used due to mobile phones using the same frequency. 


This telemetry kit supports two way communication with the mission waypoint read and write functions in both Michael Oborne's Mission planner and HappyKillmore’s GCS on both the latest APM and ACM codes. This means no more USB cables & landings to connect the ArduPilot to a laptop in the field, you are able to view live telemetry data as your airframe progress through the mission, you can load a new mission on the fly while your UAV circles above you and execute that new mission without having to land! The range of operation has been tested out to half a mile with no loss in connection, connection has been found to drop off at 3/4 of a mile.


Included in the kit are all the items you need to have a fully functioning telemetry system:


  • 2 x Xbee Pro’s series 1 (1 x whip antenna 1 x RPSMA).
  • Ground and airframe adaptor boards (2 x XteamBee's).
  • Antenna (RPSMA High gain 4.9 dBi).
  • Connecting cables for both the GCS and airframe.  




The kits is available two forms:


Either as a pre soldered, fully programmed and tested kit, so they are completely plug and play or in a self built kit, for those of you who like to build your own. The kits are now in stock at www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk


The 2.4Ghz Pro series 2 Xbees (firmware XBP24-ZB, XBP24-B) do not work with the DIY Drones Xtreme Bee boards. Please use Sparkfun Xbee explorer boards.




Build the Xtream Bee’s:


The XtreamBee boards need to be built, this involves some soldering and is not complicated if you are experienced with soldering, however a word of warning here, when soldering the female headers, don’t use too much solder! The male pins of the Xbee modules will not fit into the female headers if any excess solder runs down inside the holes on the PCB, it will fill the female headers with solder, this is not good!


When the soldering of the female header connections is complete you will have to solder the connection pins for the FTDI / telemetry cable to the APM and the computer. To enable the to way communication in the GCS’s you will need to hold the CTS line high, this is done with a solder bridge from the VIN line to CTS line. This modification is required on both XtreamBee boards with FTDI connectors, it is not needed with the USB GCS XtreamBee board now supplied in the kit.


When you have completed the construction of the XtreamBee boards set both slide switches to master mode, you can now add the first Xbee module to the XtreamBee, you will see that there is an white outline of the Xbee on the board for orientation, please ensure you select the correct orientation to save the XBee unit from being damaged!


Before adding any power to the board make sure that the Antenna on the RPSMA Xbee is attached and screwed all the way on, powering the unit without the antenna being fitted or incorrectly fitted will cause the unit to fail!
Install the Xbee’s and Program:


When the Xbee is fitted to the XtreamBee and the antenna has been connected power the first board using the supplied FTDI cable, note the orientation of the lead colours (see image above), the black wire needs to go to the pin marked “BLK” on the top side of the board or “GND” on the underside. If this is placed correctly you cannot get the other connections incorrect! 
The Xbee’s come set at a data rate of 9600, this needs to be changed to the higher rate of 57600. To do this you will need to use a free program called X-CTU


Down Load Here:


In "PC Settings" select the comport that the XBee is connected to, then go to the tab marked "Modem Configuration". Always select the update firmware option, click "Read", change the rate in the box shown above and then click "Write".


When you have changed the rate on the first board, remove the first Xtream Bee and switch over with the other, program the second one in the same way and to the same rate as the first.


The set up of the Xbee’s are now completed!
Adding the Telemetry to APM:


On the APM you will see that there is a total of four connection ports marked "Teleport", (if you don't have the male pins to solder to the teleport for fitting the telemetry cable they can be found here) which will need to be connected to the airframe part of the telemetry kit. There are two pins for the power and two for the communication. Once again if you look at the XtreamBee you will see there is a “5v+”, “GND”, “In” and “OUT”. With the supplied APM telemetry cable you will find one end has 4 connections and the other has 5, the 4 goes onto the APM and 5 onto the XtreamBee, match the two ends to the corresponding pins and the APM is ready to send telemetry data to the GCS.



How to get the data:


To start using the telemetry, power the APM first which will power the airframe Xbee, power the GCS Xbee second, then load the Mission Planner or HK’s GCS select the correct comport and speed (57600) and click connect. You will now have your telemetry up and running!


Always select disconnect in the GCS before removing power from either of the units, I have found that on odd occasions if you just unplug one unit / switch the power off without disconnecting in the GCS you can lock a unit, this is easy to solve by reprogramming the XBee again, but to avoid it reverse the connection process.





Use of 2.4 GHz Radio and Telemetry together:


This kit has been tested both in the field and in a lab environment to check for any clashes or interference between the RX/TX of the radio equipment operating on the same frequency as the Xbee’s, no conflicts have been found to exist.

The Xbee units on power up look at the frequencies available in the channel they have assigned, they will then select the one which has the least amount of noise, this is called DSSS in the world of Xbee’s, the DSSS operates in a very similar way to that of the 2.4 GHz radios with frequency hopping, which means we can fly more than one aircraft at a time and still use the same 2.4 GHz band as the pilot standing right next to us.


The field tests conducted were first with the radio on “range Check” which is a very low power setting, the Xbee was set to full power and placed on top of the RX and APM, the TX was taken to the minimum recommended distance and some way beyond, at which point there was still a solid lock and smooth operation of all the connected servos.

The second field test was conducted in a wide open space, where once again the Xbee was set to full power and was left on top of the APM and RX, the TX was in normal “flight Power” mode and was taken to approx 1.3 miles away with line of sight, there was no loss of connection to the servos, they still operated as if there was not a telemetry kit working right next to the RX.

The radio I used throughout all of the field testing was a Futaba T7C, I have also released three full test kits to customers to try with additional radio equipment, all non Futaba, some of the radios tested were $60 specials while others were top end systems, all tests conducted have proven to be successful with no loss in control at any time and easy to use telemetry from the box.


While no concerns or issues have been identified with the telemetry kit and the radio systems when tested in the field or lab, it's highly recommend that a “range check” be carried out before committing to flight, if you can maintain a solid RX / TX lock at lowered powers on the ground beyond the minimum distance recommended then flight should not be an issue.







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  • I had a crash today and the xbee came off the board and then I mistakenly plunged it back into the board in revers so the power pins were feeding the two signal wires. Now it wont communicate with the the gcs xbee. I swapped over the Xbee 900 to another xtreambee adapter and its working fine. So its now obvious there is a problem with the xtreambee. I'm still getting leds lighting up( the red the blue and the far left orange are solid) so it cant be totally destroyed. How can I try to reset this . I used the FTDI cable and X-CTU to try rest it,and although the FTDI comes up with a port number , the X-CTU wont detect the board and comes up with error, cant open com port. How can i try to rest the board and load firmware tot he adapter board and see if this will fix it?

  • Is it due to not switching to SLAVE mode on the XtreamBee Board while connected to APM. As discussed in http://www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk/XtreamBee-Board-p/tel-xbee.htm

  • Let me explain the case again , may be i can solve it in my location.
    I am using xbees to transmit data from my aerial platform to ground. Te platform uses 6000 mAh lipo. At the aerial platform i am using   2.4 GHz XBee-PRO RF Module Whip Antenna S1(http://www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk/XBee-PRO-RF-Module-Whip-Antenna-...) mounted on XtreamBee Board (http://www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk/XtreamBee-Board-p/tel-xbee.htm). This is connected to an autopilot board. Now during the mission the Lipo gives a spark, when i changed the lipo and plugged in the new one the leds on the xbee don't get ON. I dismounted the 2.4 GHz XBee-PRO RF Module Whip Antenna S1 and plugged it in to the XtreamBee USB Adapter Board (http://www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk/XtreamBee-USB-Adapter-p/tel-xbee...) to unbrick it. But the xbee pro rf module heats up and dont get unbricked. Some days later i again had the same issue with the 2.4 GHz XBee-PRO RF Module RPSMA S1 (http://www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk/XBee-PRO-RF-Module-RPSMA-S1-p/xb...) mounted on the XtreamBee Board (http://www.buildyourowndrone.co.uk/XtreamBee-Board-p/tel-xbee.htm) on the aircraft side. Now where can i get the schematic of the xbees so that if a component needs to be replaced i may do it at my location. More importantly what is causing all this? because i am now sure that if i plug in a new Xbee i may get the same problem. Please help.

  • While trying to unbrick, when i insert the XBee-PRO RF Module Whip Antenna S1 on to the XtreamBee USB Adapter Board, the USB XtreamBee overheats. Also despite that i reset the board the 'Action Required' Dialog Box doesn't close. What may be the problem?

  • Today during the trial when i switched the Lipo on my hexa jdrones Arducopter, just after some seconds My Mission planner showed voltage less than 8.0 volts though i had plugged in my fully charged Lipo. I disconnected the Xbee Mission planner, took the battery connections out, checked with the multimeter. It was showing ~12 volts i replugged in the lipo but since then my Xbee transmitter (i.e. on the aircraft side) is not showing its led ON. When i try to connect it using mission planner, time out occurs. I flew the mission after it manually without the aid of mission planner (Xbee) and the mission ran through the normal lipo time. What might have gone wrong? Why my Xbee 2.4 GHz on Aircraft side is not working.

  • Thanks a lot for your help:)

  • There are two: 5V and 3.3V. you can take a look at the link in my previous post - it shows the reverse side of the breadboard with symbols too

  • I am not an expert in electronics but very interested in building drones. Please help me solving problem with  setting up the XBee communication. I have two XBee Pro Series 2 modules, USB board and XBee Explorer Regulatated from Sparkfun, here http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9132. I read this: To enable the to way communication in the GCS’s you will need to hold the CTS line high, this is done with a solder bridge from the VIN line to CTS line. The problem is, on the breadboard from Sparkfun there is no place marked as VIN. There is instead one marked as DIN. Is this the same?

  • Thank You Dave will do.

  • Jonny/DahaS

    As this is getting somewhat off topic, could I ask you to open a new forum post or PM? 

    Many thanks

This reply was deleted.