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SparkFun Teams Up with Digi International for New Digi XBee 3, XBee RR IoT Carrier Boards

Designed for the new Digi XBee 3 and XBee RR families, these low-cost carrier boards are compatible with prior through-hole versions too.

SparkFun has announced a partnership with Digi International to launch new version of its Explorer development boards built specifically for the company's new Digi XBee Internet of Things (IoT) modules — with support, too, for the company's classic designs.

"We consider our friends at Digi International some of our closest and oldest, so when they approached us about supporting their new Digi XBee modules with revised versions of our classic Explorers and development boards, we couldn't say no," explains SparkFun's Chris McCarty. "Today, we are happy to announce four brand new boards and a new kit, each designed from the ground up to support the Digi XBee RR and GNSS modules as well as all legacy, through-hole modules that have been released in the past."

The new boards are designed to host Digi's radio modules, in both their cellular-based and IEEE 802.15.4 variants, though with a particular focus on compatibility with the company's latest Digi XBee 3 and Digi XBee RR modules. Each simply slot into female sockets at the top of the board, alongside Qwiic ports for external hardware — plus breadboard-friendly through-hole pin headers.

The first in the new family of boards is the SparkFun Digi XBee Development Board, the most feature-packed carrier. Described by the company as a "kitchen sink " development board, it includes two USB Type-C connectors, a Qwiic connector, JST battery connector, and unpopulated through-hole headers. When used with the XBee 3, in either LTE-M/NB-IoT or LTE Cat. 1 and 3G variants, it offers full cellular connectivity and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) support.

The SparkFun Digi XBee Explorer, by contrast, offers a more compact board layout by ditching the USB Type-C ports — though a variant with a single USB Type-C port is also available, if you're looking for something straddling the Explorer and Development Board models. Finally, an Arduino Shield variant delivers exactly what you'd expect: an adapter board which accepts a Digi XBee module and connects it to Arduino-compatible microcontrollers using the popular Arduino UNO pin-header layout.

Alongside the individual boards, SparkFun has also launched a Digi XBee Kit bundle which includes the SparkFun Digi XBee Development Board, a Digi XBee 3 LTE-M/NB-IoT module, a Hologram eUICC SIM card for the latter, a Qwiic breakout for a Sensiron SHTC3 humidity sensor, flex antennas for the LTE and GNSS radios plus a PCB antenna for the 2.4GHz spectrum, and both Qwiic and USB cables.

The new boards are now available to order on the SparkFun Store, priced at $11.95 for the SparkFun Digi XBee Arduino Shield, $12.95 for the SparkFun Digi XBee Explorer Regulated, $16.95 for the USB Type-C version, $19.95 for the SparkFun Digi XBee Development Board, and $129.95 for the SparkFun Digi XBee Kit bundle, all before volume discounts. The Digi XBee modules start at $23.95 for a Digi XBee RR, with the cellular versions starting at $75.95 for the Digi XBee 3 LTE-M/NB-IoT.

More information on the difference between each Digi XBee module is available in SparkFun's buyer's guide.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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