Setting up your XBee Pro 900HP

We recently had a customer that needed to send a sensor signal a couple of miles. As we were going to have to integrate the XBee into some hardware we decided to go with a programmable device so that we did not need to add an additional processor. The obvious choice of hardware was the XBee Pro 900 HP.

As we had not used these specific modules before our first action point was to get a couple of modules talking, but to do that we first had to chat with them using the Digi X-CTU application.


XBee Pro 900 HP

XBee Pro 900 HP on Interface Board


It all seemed pretty simple, put the XBee module into a Digi interface board and connect to the computer. As we use Windows 7 the drivers were installed automatically. Next step was to fire up the X-CTU application.


X-CTU main screen

Once you have the application running you should see your XBee devices listed. However when hitting the Test/Query button we got the following message:


Unfortunately doing a web search for ‘name unknown’ or ‘x-ctu name unknown’ does not give any relevant information on how to get communication going with your XBee device.

Turns out you first need to set the interface to ‘Bypass Mode’. You open the COM port with a regular terminal application like putty, hit Enter until you get a menu then select ‘B’ to bypass so that X_CTU can access the XBee device.

The bootloader provides a “bypass” mode of operation that essentially connects the freescale mcu to the internal microcontroller’s serial UART. This allows direct communication to the internal microcontroller’s radio for the purpose of firmware and radio configuration changes. Once in bypass
mode, the X-CTU utility can change modem configuration and/or update module’s firmware. Bypass mode automatically handles any baud rate up to 115.2kbps. Note that this command is unavailable when module is accessed remotely.

Configuring Bypass mode with terminal

After that it pretty simple to get to the modem configuration screen:

XBee Modem Configuration.

Now we can perform our range tests. Our next step is to get the XBee onto a breakout and wire up the rest of a circuit on one a breadboard.

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