It’s no secret that the world is hampered by the supply chain challenges that emerged during the pandemic. While things are improving, the long lead times for chips and components still has many manufacturers, OEMs and developers scrambling. And we know what happens when designs can’t be completed. It impacts planning, forecasting, customer satisfaction and revenue.
The great news is that when the going gets tough, Digi innovates. We’re happy to share that thanks to the tireless work of our engineering and product management teams, we have a new Digi XBee® solution shipping today that is compatible with existing XBee 3 devices.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the new Digi XBee RR solution, as well as Rapid Redesign support available from Digi Wireless Design Services to help you get your design through redesign and back on the market as quickly as possible.
Contact us for a free redesign consultation
What Is Digi XBee RR?
Digi XBee RR is a brand new family offering from Digi, built to support the immediate needs of OEMs, developers and systems integrators that rely on XBee 3 in their product designs. It is compatible with existing Digi XBee designs and can be swapped in with only minor changes. Digi XBee RR is available now to ship in volume.
It is important to note that other XBee modules in the Digi XBee ecosystem are not in end-of-life status. We will continue shipping those modules as availability allows.
Digi XBee RR is a complete solution that is fully integrated with Digi gateways, Digi XCTU® for local provisioning and testing, and Digi Remote Manager® for network-wide visibility and remote management via a gateway. Those who require the DigiMesh® or Zigbee® mesh networking capabilities of Digi XBee RR and XBee 3 modules need this integration to connect the mesh network through gateways to the cloud. Cloud-based Digi Remote Manager also facilitates easy integration with cloud services like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft Azure for application tracking and business intelligence.
Additionally, Digi XBee RR is fully integrated with Digi XBee Tools, which include site survey and network connectivity assessment tools and developer tools for rapid development, testing and deployment of your application.
Which Protocols and Form Factors are Supported?
Digi XBee RR provides 2.4 GHz for mesh networking with Zigbee 802.15.4 and Digi's own DigiMesh protocol in the micro mount form factor as well as through-hole and surface mount. It is available immediately in the smallest micro mount form factor, which is the most popular size today.
What Is the Recommended Gateway?
Digi XBee RR is fully compatible with Digi IX15, an XBee gateway and cellular router in one. Digi IX15 enables you to build out your mesh network, connect it to the Internet through Ethernet, via cellular to get your mesh network connected. The IX15 is available and shipping today as well.
Functionality Differences Between Digi XBee RR and Digi XBee 3
There are a few key differences in functionality that you’ll need to keep in mind as you plan your migration.
- MicroPython: One key distinction between Digi XBee 3 and Digi XBee RR is MicroPython, which is not included with Digi XBee RR. So the suitability of this solution does depend on whether MicroPython is a strict requirement for your use case.
- Bluetooth: Another distinction is Bluetooth functionality, which is a bit different in Digi XBee RR. Basic Bluetooth functionality is included, which enables you to configure and provision devices through the XBee mobile app or your own home-grown mobile app. User data relay frames are also available. However, if you're using MicroPython to control the Bluetooth, or using beaconing with Bluetooth, it will require a workaround if you migrate to XBee RR. Teams that are using Bluetooth to configure the XBee modules with a handheld device upon wake-up, can still do so, and use that method to configure the settings and parameters on an XBee module.
- GPIO: There are a few key differences in GPIO functionality. The DIO10 (PWM0/RSSI indicator) and DIO11 (PWM1) lines are not available on the XBee RR RF module. Additionally, the reference voltages are different on the XBee RR and the XBee 3 on the analog inputs. See the table below for the values you can use as terminal voltage from an ADC reading.
- Firmware: Firmware images are different on the XBee RR, so it’s important to not use one firmware image for both XBee RR and XBee 3 modules. Firmware is separately available for XBee RR and XBee 3, and you can still perform OTA firmware updates on your modules.
Management and Migration Tools
In this section, we will cover some go-to features that you can continue to rely upon when you migrate to Digi XBee RR.
- XCTU: Digi XCTU® continues to work the same for both Digi XBee RR and Digi XBee 3. XCTU enables you to configure your modules and update firmware on modules connected to a PC and remote devices in a network. It offers a graphical view of your device network, including the connection quality of RF links, and comes with several tools to test and analyze API communication and perform range testing in development stages as well as for site surveys.
- XBee Multi Programmer: Digi XBee Multi Programmer works the same for XBee RR modules and is very useful for those migrating to Digi XBee RR from XBee 3. The Multi Programmer lets you concurrently program up to six modules at a time. You can connect two or more programmers for additional capacity. It has a graphical interface that shows the pass/fail status, and you can export that data as needed for quality records, whatever the case may be. Additionally:
- You can update XBee RR versions from one protocol to another. For example, if your module is set up with Zigbee and you want to flash it to 802.15.4 or DigiMesh, you can do that quickly and easily through the Multi Programmer.
- We have interchangeable header boards on the multi programmer and they're available in each form factor the MMT, SMT, and through-hole.
- If you have parameters or configurations you want to save or add to the module before you deploy them, you can also do that through the Multi Programmer.
- Digi Remote Manager: As we indicated early in this post, Digi Remote Manager is a key component for those deploying a distributed network, enabling you to create your device-to-cloud connectivity from your XBee modules through your gateway to the cloud. Additionally, it allows you to remotely monitor your deployed solution from a dashboard, monitor your devices for security breaches in the form of attempted configuration changes and perform automated remediation, and run reports.
Migration Resources and Services
Change is hard, but we are here to help! First and foremost, be sure to access the Digi XBee RR Migration Guide for the steps to take as you migrate from XBee 3 to XBee RR.
“Rapid Redesign” Services from Digi WDS
If you need experienced engineering and RF support to support your migration, Digi Wireless Design Services (WDS) has you covered. The WDS team has deep experience with prototyping, design, testing, certification, design rescues, the prepare-for-manufacturing process and more.
Digi WDS can help you migrate to Digi XBee RR in the shortest possible time and begin shipping products fast.
This assistance can include:
- Hardware/software modifications: Your design may require product design changes in order to integrate Digi XBee RR. If you do not have engineering staff available to perform this work, you can outsource it to WDS to get the project done and get back into production quickly.
- MicroPython workaround: If you have come to rely on MicroPython, you can work with Digi WDS to identify and implement a workaround for the functionality you need.
- EMI testing: Digi WDS has a fully outfitted lab with all the testing equipment needed, as well as many years of experience ensuring board designs follow best practices for antenna placement and RF integration. They can test to ensure your designs will pass and make and recommendations needed to ensure success.
- Re-certification: Every product that is moved to the new XBee RR module will need to be re-certified to indicate a changed FCC ID. The XBee RR has a new FCC ID that is not the same as the XBee 3. This may be only a change in paperwork, (a permissible change) but can also include testing for unintentional EMI. WDS has extensive experience in this area and they will be able to analyze and guide you on the requirements and work required, or perform the work for you.
- Certs for market expansion: If you have deployed your product to North America with FCC certification, but wish to expand to other regions now that new modules are available, Digi WDS can help. The WDS team has extensive experience with certifications for worldwide deployment and can help you navigate the process to certify for additional regions.
- Support for component sourcing: Digi WDS can be your one-stop-shop to help you with your redesign as well as sourcing the components to put it all together – oftentimes even if it appears there is no availability.
- Design for power management: Different modules and different use cases have wildly varying power needs. For example, Digi XBee RR will require more power in certain modes than XBee 3 Zigbee. Digi WDS works directly with battery manufacturers to source the most energy efficient batteries, and they have the expertise to make adjustments where needed to optimize performance.
Contact us to request a free consultation to determine if Digi WDS services are right for you. For module sales, visit www.digi.com/XBeeRR, where you can shop from our channel partners.