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XBee modules - too many variations — Parallax Forums

XBee modules - too many variations

Kenny GardnerKenny Gardner Posts: 169
edited 2011-07-11 18:49 in Accessories
All of these different XBee Modules is driving me nuts.

I started with Series 2 (2.5) which is now obsolete.

The Parallax Book only supports Series 1, so I bought some of those.

Now I find that my obsolete Series 2 can be updated to ZB so I'm going to do that, but I also wanted to make sure I have some real and current Series 2 so I set out to purchase a couple of these.

Confusing things even more, Parallax sells the XBP24-Z7WIT-004 Series 2, which is also obsolete (am I correct in this?). It has been replaced with the XBP24-BZ7WIT-004, which is now called Series 2B. I don't know if I should go ahead and buy the obsolete Parallax Series 2 Pro's and update them to 2B (if I can) or just buy them from Mouser (since they no longer sell the older Series 2).

Call me confused Kenny


  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 7,326
    edited 2011-01-10 18:07
    Kenny, none of our XBee Series 2 modules are obsolete. There's certainly some confusion regarding part numbers. I haven't looked into this in quite a while but I'll do that this week. One of our engineers (Daniel Harris) knows all about this subject so I'll ask him to take a look at this thread.

    The XBee modules are a product line where Series 1 often meets everybody's needs, and Series 2 isn't better just because it's another revision on another platform. Series 1, in my view, is more than adequate for most projects our customers choose to do - and the hardware is easier to set up and use, too.

    In the meantime, how about if you return the Series 2 modules to Parallax. Contact me via pm if you want to do that. While we arrange that detail I'll ask Daniel to take a look into the part number question and contact Digi if we need further clarification internally.
  • Kenny GardnerKenny Gardner Posts: 169
    edited 2011-01-10 18:46
    Hi Ken,

    I haven't purchased the Series 2 modules from Parallax yet. I bought some old 2.5 Series 2 from Mouser a while back but I want to buy a set of the current Series 2. I'd prefer to buy from Parallax but not if the ones you folks are selling are old stock because I'm getting tired of buying obsolete parts :lol:

    I do know that the current Wire Antenna part number is XBP24-BZ7WIT-004. Note the 'B'. I assume that means Series 2B ?

    Mouser no longer shows the part number that you carry (XBP24-Z7WIT-004) in their catalog.

    I bought some Series 1 modules in order to follow along with your new book, but I want to use the Series 2 and some 900mHz modules I bought for longer range projects (miles instead of feet). I'm going to learn from your book and the Series 1, and "Wireless Sensor Networks" and the Series 2, and then see what I can do with the 900mHz modules.

    Thanks for looking into this,

  • FranklinFranklin Posts: 4,747
    edited 2011-01-10 20:07
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 7,326
    edited 2011-01-11 16:46
    Hello Kenny,

    As promised I'm back with more detail.

    I contacted Digi just to make sure that I also understand the part numbering scheme. These types of questions are very common support issues within their company - they've got perhaps nearly 100 variants on this one form factor. And the questions are difficult because of the way the product line progressed within Digi, causing some reversal among the "Series 1 and Series 2" naming conventions.

    The XBee product line, as it relates to Parallax, currently consists of 2 major divisions. The XBee and XBee-Pro 802.15.4 (formerly officially referred to as "Series 1") and the XBee and XBee-Pro ZB (formerly officially referred to as "Series 2"). There are three variants within the Series 2 line however - ZNet 2.5, ZB, and S2B.

    ZNet 2.5 is the initial ZigBee solution offered by Digi, based upon ZigBee 2006 and is now considered legacy and is not recommended for new designs. The hardware is the same as ZB radios and can be updated to the ZB firmware.

    ZB is the current shipping version of the ZigBee protocol based upon the ZigBee Pro feature set. These can be loaded on the ZNet 2.5, ZB and S2B hardware platforms.

    S2B is only applicable to the XBee-Pro ZB platform. Hardware upgrade to the original XBee Series 2 radios. Digi migrated to an improved Power Amplifier saving space on the board and increasing performance slightly.

    What you have bought from Mouser is the XBP24-BZ7WIT-004. This would be considered Series 2 but with the ZB hardware platform. The Parallax equivalent is simply the Series 2 with an X-CTU upgrade to the ZB firmware.

    The real problem Digi created with their part numbering scheme is some kind of expectation that Series 2 is better than Series 1. You should choose the model that fits the application, and almost all the time Series 1 does the job. And, we are going to now quit referring to these in this way. From this point forward what has formally been known as Series 1 will be 802.15.4 and Series 2 will be the XBee ZB lines. This is keeping with the new naming conventions from Digi.

    A real pain, I know. Keep it manageable, understandable and productive - use the 802.15.4 (Series 1) line. And all of the examples are detailed in our newly-released tutorial.

    Ken Gracey
  • Daniel HarrisDaniel Harris Posts: 207
    edited 2011-01-11 17:58
    Hello Kenny,

    Your frustrations with all of the variations in XBee modules is most certainly not unfounded. I (and others at Parallax) have had many frustrations with trying to get correct and up-to-date information from Digi about which XBee module is which and the correct specs to the modules that they sent us when we decided to stock their product. What you see on our store page is a great deal of spec searching, number matching, and fact checking to try and list the correct information about what we sell.

    Everything that I have read from Digi about the Series 2 Pro vs. Series 2B Pro is that the modules are nearly identical. The only difference being that they have redesigned the radio to get slightly more power out of it. Naturally, this radio redesign affects the power usage of the module as a whole. However, Digi's latest datasheet on the XBee Series 2 module states that there is no difference in both Indoor and Outdoor ranges between the Series 2 Pro and Series 2B Pro modules. Check out page 9 on the datasheet for a side by side comparison of specs:

    The XBee Series 2 Pro modules that Parallax stocks are by no means obsolete, though you are correct in that they are not the latest and greatest from Digi. I think that the difference between Series 2 Pro and Series 2B Pro can be likened to the differences between Apple's first offering of the iPhone 4 (with antenna problems) and later revisions of the iPhone 4 (with an optimized antenna).

    As for using Series 2 modules with the new XBee book, just be aware that the book was written from a perspective of using Series 1 modules. There are some differences in network topology and configuration between the Series 1 and Series 2 modules. Since two different types of networks are created between the two different types of module, different AT and API commands exist between them. The book may make use of some commands that exist for the Series 1 but don't exist for the Series 2. In most cases, I think you should be fine using Series 2 modules in place of the Series 1's once you get the Series 2 talking with each other (chapter 8).

    I hope that helps clarify some things. :)
  • Kenny GardnerKenny Gardner Posts: 169
    edited 2011-01-11 19:09
    Hi Daniel and Ken,

    Yea, there doesn't appear to be too much of a difference between Series 2 Pro and Series 2B Pro other than sometimes they are now called ZB instead of 2B to add more to the confusion!

    In the Building Wireless Sensor Networks book, the author states that Series 1 uses a subset of Series 2 commands so that if you know the command set for Series 2 then coding for Series 1 should be easy.

    I'm just going to use your book with the Series 1 and his book with the Series 2 and then hopefully I'll be able to marry it all together and do something with the 900mHz modules I bought (for further range).

    It's all pretty exciting. The technology with all its various part numbers is moving faster than I can keep up!

    Now all we need is a Propeller and BS2 board with Integrated XBee sockets!

  • urmishurmish Posts: 2
    edited 2011-06-13 05:13

    I am new to the wireless domain. I have xb24-z7wit-004 modules in lab. While I was trying to understand all the different variants I got confused. As far as I can tell this is series 2. My questions are is series 2 same as zigbee 2 series 2? what is the difference between series 2 and series 2.5? Is the link for manual posted by Mr. Daniel Harris should be the one that i should be reading? Thanks.
  • johnfosjohnfos Posts: 59
    edited 2011-06-13 11:08
    Here's my understanding of the part numbers. There may be variants that I haven't come across.

    Numbers beginning with XB24 or XBP24 are the Series 1 or Series 2 XBees. The P, if present, indicates that the module is a Pro version.

    This is followed by a hyphen, and then a firmware indicator. The firmware indicator shows the firmware type originally shipped on the module:
    A : 802.15.4 (and therefore this is a series 1 module)
    DM : Digimesh (and therefore this is a series 1 module)
    B followed by something other than Z7 : ZNet2.5 (and therefore this is a series 2 module)
    Z7 : Zigbee (and therefore this is a series 2 module)
    BZ7 : Zigbee, on a series 2B module.

    Next comes the antenna type:
    SI : RPSMA connector
    WI : wire whip
    UI : U.FL connector
    CI : on board ceramic chip

    This is followed by -001 for series 1 modules, and by T-004 for series 2 modules.

    There may also be a final J. That, if present, indicates that the chip has a restricted transmission power, which is a requirement in some countries such as Japan (and hence the choice of J, I believe). This is also known as the "international variant".

    Note that the indicated firmware type may not show what's currently loaded. You can reflash series 1 modules with either 802.15.4 or Digimesh firmware (except for a few older hardware versions), and you can reflash series 2 models with either ZNet2.5 or Zigbee (ZB) firmware.

    So urmish has series 2 modules that have wire whip antennas and that were originally shipped with ZB firmware. They are the "straight" version - ie not the Pro. Urmish could reflash them to use ZNet2.5 firmware, but ZB is more recent and has more functionality so there would be little point doing so.

    The XBee FAQ contains some of this information - I really must update it to put the rest in.
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 7,326
    edited 2011-06-13 16:03
    johnfos' summary looks correct to me with one caveat.

    Digi no longer refers to the two sets of modules as Series 1 and Series 2. This is the correct naming convention:

    Series 1 => 802.15.4
    Series 2 => ZigBee

    I learned this about 4-5 months ago from the factory support engineers. It seems that the numerical naming somehow implied that Series 2 is better feature-wise, or more suited for an application, but this just isn't really the case. My recommendation remains the same as Marty Hebel's: use 802.15.4 for everything unless you have a specific reason to use the ZigBee series.

    If you agree with my recommendation, all you need to do is make two more choices: (a) wire or chip antenna; (b) 2 mW or 60 mW. Still having trouble, just get the chip antenna and start with the 2 mW module since it works well for most large indoor spaces. At around $20 each you can't go wrong.

    The Digi part numbering scheme makes it look easy to order a coffee from Starbucks.

    Ken Gracey
  • Tracy AllenTracy Allen Posts: 6,566
    edited 2011-06-14 00:15
    I think John gave a great summary. The list with that same footprint should also include the XBP09 at 900 MHz, and the XBP08 at 868 MHz for Europe. Those in general offer longer range than the XB24s at 2.4GHz. There are further variants of those that depend on the power level, with XBP09-D being lower power than XBP09-XC, and on either a choice of antenna, SI, WI or UI.

    Ken, I think it is useful to distinguish the hardware series by number from the firmware that it runs. That is still how Digi does it in their comparison charts. For example, the S1 hardware (either standard or pro) can run either the 802.15.4 firmware, which is at least in theory interoperable with the baseline IEEE 802.15.4 standard as implemented by other manufacturers, or it can run the proprietary Digimesh firmware, which is built on the 802.15.4 physical layer, but in a way that makes possible a very different kind of network with multiple hops between very low power nodes. Even on the baseline modules, Digi has made certain proprietary extensions available that are not part of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard.

    Similarly Digi hardware S2 is capable of different firmware versions. In particular, all of those are aimed at running the full Zigbee stack, as it had evolved, and is at least in theory able to talk to the Zigbee radios from other vendors. Zigbee is higher protocol, but it too is built on top of IEEE 802.15.4. It takes a lot more computing horsepower to implement the full capabilities of its fancy intersecting networks and security features. Now, Digi is offering hardware variations S2B and S2C, which are more user programmable with 32k of flash and 2k user ram.

    The XB09 radios for 900 MHz are listed as hardware S4 in the Digi comparison charts, and those too can be reprogrammed with either a standard multipoint protocol, or with the proprietary Digimesh firmware. The multipoint protocol uses a command set pretty much identical to the 2.4 GHz S1 modules /802.25.4 firmware, likewise for the Digimesh.
  • urmishurmish Posts: 2
    edited 2011-06-14 02:15
    thanks for the quick response. The points laid down has helped a lot in getting started with my work. Thanks again.
  • Tracy AllenTracy Allen Posts: 6,566
    edited 2011-06-14 12:41
    Okay, I see a new level of confusion. The latest offerings of XB24 with the -BZ7 and -CZ7 suffixes have a "programmable" option, with Freescale MC9SO8QE32 coprocessor on board with 32k flash and 2k ram. They refer the curious to Freescale for the coprocessor data sheet, but the product seems so new that the data sheet is not up yet, but you can find similar entries in the MC9SO8 series. The -BZ7 is built on the S2B hardware platform, and the -CZ7 is a new surface mount footprint built on what they call the S2C hardware platform.

    You can substitute "series" for the "S". Each hardware platform is capable of being flashed with several different firmware versions.

    One complicating factor with using the XBee S2 Zigbee modules has been that there are different versions of the firmware that has to be loaded, depending on where the individual device sits in the network (coordinator, router, end point) and protocol (transparent versus API). That alone is one great reason for the beginner to choose the baseline XBees with the 802.15.4 firmware, because there is only one 802.15.4 firmware that includes transparent and API modes, software selectable, as well as a rudimentary coordinator mode (if you really need it, otherwise, it doesn't get in the way). That said, the new surface mount, XBP24-CZ7 must have a bigger memory, because all the Zigbee position and protocol options are included in one firmware unique to the -CZ7.

    Whew! I am definitely sticking with the S1 devices, with either 802.14.4 firmware or Digimesh firmware.
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,489
    edited 2011-06-14 13:22
    The tech support at Digi is good. I wished I'd called them before purchasing Zigbee XBees.

    I do remember one thing the tech support guy said. "Zigbee is Zigbee and will always be Zigbee." He said it like he'd said it a bunch of times.

    I did get the Zigbee up and running. It was just harder than if I'd used Series 1 (I don't want to try to remember all those numbers).

    If anyone out there has Series 2 (I think they've also been called Series 2.5) Zigbee XBee's, I have some code (for the Propeller) that should work with them. You do need to use Digi's X-CTU software to set your XBees as either Coordinator or Routers. I think these setting could also be done from a Prop but I took the easy way and let the computer do it.

  • Tracy AllenTracy Allen Posts: 6,566
    edited 2011-06-14 14:05
    X-ctu is needed to reflash a series 2 (zigbee) xbee as either coordinator (one per network), router (can't sleep) or end point (can sleep), and orthogonal to those three, choose either the transparent or the API mode--Six distinct firmwares within the current ZB network framework.

    It is not like the series 1 (802.15.4) where the transparent and API modes are both supported within the one and only current firmware version and can be chosen at run time by an AT command from the Prop or Stamp.

    The "2.5" was not a hardware version. It referred to the now obsolete znet 2.5 firmware that did not quite meet Zigbee Alliance standards.
  • spacedivespacedive Posts: 7
    edited 2011-07-11 18:30
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,489
    edited 2011-07-11 18:49
    spacedive, Welcome to the forum.

    There is a Test Forum here:

    I see the Test Forum is directly under the Wireless Forum. Maybe you clicked on the Wireless Forum by mistake?

    Again, Welcome.

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