What's the purpose of the usb-interface board as opposed to rs232 board?

hey i’m very new to this zigbee stuff and am doing a project on gas sensors but interfacing them with zigbee technology to transmit data … i have the drop in networking kit and have gone thru the book and followed instructions etc. and basically everything works as prescribed … what’s the purpose of the usb-interface board as opposed to the rs232 boards? i’m thinking my next step is trying to interface my gas sensor boards with one of the xbee modules (rs232 interface boards) but i’m not too sure where to start. input/output on gas sensor boards is via rs232 as well. any help please?

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The main difference between the USB and RS232 development boards is that this allows you an interface option, particulary in a world where more and more laptops, etc. are coming out which no longer have a DB9/com1. Having a USB serial interface gives at least one level of interface diversity in other words.

As for “the next step”, it sounds like your RS232 gas sensors would be a good fit for an RS232 XBee adapter.

Assuming you have the RS232 development board, you could “proof of concept” this using the dev board and an XBee module loaded with Router/End Device AT firmware (talking ZNet 2.5 here, since protocol wasn’t specified), and if everything works, use your gas sensor with an RS232 adapter going forward.

thanks for that!!

The main aim of my project is to create a mesh network (starting with about 3 or 4 nodes) of gas sensors that would be able to send/receive gas measurements between each other using Zigbee. So what you’re saying is to use the RS232 Xbee adaptor with each gas sensor instead? What would i use the RS232 interface boards for then?

I was thinking i had to try and interface one of the RS232 interface boards (Xbee-PRO) with my gas sensor first, by loading some firmware onto the board to be able to get data from the sensor and then trying to send that data through to the other nodes? Would it be more easier and convinient to use the adaptors?

Sorry for such basic questions, this is a whole new thing to me. And what is the difference between the RS232 (Xbee PRO) and RS232 (Xbee) interface boards?

Anothe advantage of the USB interface board is that it will pull its power right off the USB port, whereas the RS232 board must be powered with an external power supply.

The Adaptors are just a plug and play packaged form of the RS232 interface board essentially. You can do the same things with both for the most part. the adaptors are just more of a production level device, and the interface baord is more development oriented.

I would begin development with the interface boards, especially since that is what you already have. you should simply be able to connect the interface board to your serial sensor using a ull modem connection. Data sent to the radio will be relayed through the mesh netowrk (happens automatically) and back to the specified address.

As for the difference between the XBee and the XBee-PRO, the XBee-PRO simply adds a power amplifier on the front end and an LNA on the back end, allowing the PRO to get about 3 times the range of the standard XBee. Other than that, they are really the same. Pin compatible, and will interoperate with each other.

One thing to watch out for is the type of XBee you purchase. The XBee line is a family of radios. There are point to point, zigbee mesh, proprietart mesh, 900MHz and 2.4Gghz radios, all in the Xbee/PRO family. Just don’t mistake one for the other. Double check the part number of your modules with the website to make sure which model of XBee you are using.

One more thing to keep in mind regarding USB interface. The amount of current that the USB is able to supply is very limited. Multiple radios connected via USB can cause the computer to reset due to an overdraw of current on the USB bus during transmissions. If you are looking to use multiple radios connected via USB, you may want to look into purchasing a POWERED USB hub.

i’ve connected my sensor to the interface board but i’m having some problems working out how things work.

From my understanding obtained from reading the manual, the XCTU software is used to configure the Xbee modules, right? The Gateway demo application runs on the gateway to discover nodes and read info from wall sensor, and the pc companion application works with the gateway to display this info on the pc. right?

So after i connect my sensor, i want to be able to see the data it sends on my pc. from what gworle tells me, i assume i dont have to use the XCTU software since this (data sent) should happen automatically, right? so does that mean all i have to do is write a program (like the EmbeddedKitService.py) in python and upload it to gateway so it can read this data and display it on my pc (like EmpbeddedKitManager.py)?

sorry for such basic questions, i’m very new to this and starting from scratch. Any help would be very much appreciated!!!