XBee deployed as an R/C ELT

Good day. I am wondering if anyone has gone down the path of exploring the viability of using an XBee in the capacity of a pseudo-ELT (Emergency Location Transmitter) for R/C aircraft (i.e. UAV/RPV/UAS/etc.).

I am thinking that the best model of radio would be the XB(P)24-AWI-001, due to it’s possessing a 1.8 dBi integrated whip antenna.

OK, the intent is not to transmit 10’s of miles (as with the 121.5MHz/243MHz proper aviation ELTs), nor up to the satellites orbiting our fine planet (as is the case with the newer 406MHz aviation units in addition to the older units), but rather to transmit a coded pulse every X seconds, so that someone with a hand-held unit that is within a few hundred meters of the site has a chance to actually make a speedy recovery, or at least locating the site.

I got to thinking about this, and I guess that in order to facilitate minimal external components, that some custom firmware will need to be developed, so that all it needs to operate in that mode is the 3v3 regulated supply.

And, since the firmware would need to be dev’d, why not have it so that it will have the ability to receive lat/lon position information serially, storing said information locally, and have the transmission of the Lat/Lon information be part of the coded data burst. In-between bursts, the radio could go into low power mode, maximizing battery life for what would ideally be a 24-hour operation off of the battery.

The biggest hurdle, besides the firmware, would seem to me to be the mechanical coupling of the battery & regulator to the radio.

Ok, I’ve rambled on long enough. Any one have any objective comments or constructive critisim to offer?

Thanks, in advance. Take care.


I believe there are several posts in the forum written also by someone using an XBee for RC Aircraft control. I’d recommend searching for them and going from there.

Thank you for your response. I will search herein for same.

Does Digi have a XBee Firmware SDK? I did search around for same, but came up empty-handed. Please advise.

Thank you for your time.


Several different types of kits available: