In most of the projects the XBee modules appear as interfaces, serving only for the wireless connection, but the they can do much more, they have seven analog input channels, nine digital I/O channels and two PWM outputs, it is almost like a micro controller the difference is that you can’t actually load your own control firmware, this needs to run on the PC, but this can be taken as a feature used in your advance since you can make complicated applications in any language and communicate over the serial port. The USB to serial converter should be a problem because the operating system will use it as a virtual serial port, no USB programming required.
With this advanced inputs and outputs you could make complicated robotics applications, smart sensors, and even closed loop systems, not being limited by the code size and speed only your imagination is the limit.
These features of the XBee are available only with the latest firmware version 10A1, if your module is older than you need to update the firmware.
Standalone XBee: [Link]
Yes, the title is tricky, don’t be afraid Arduino still uses the ATmega168, this project is very similar to the Arduino concept, but also very different. It is a small development board which uses a PIC micro controller with native USB support, the author states that this is the main advantage over Arduino, but there isn’t available a user friendly IDE with custom language. Although not everything is lost since for the PIC18F family you have a feature limited C compiler made available from Microchip, C18. The author also states that he launched his CUIduino board in 2005, roughly the same time with Arduino, maybe is true but at least the name was inspired from Arduino.
It is a great alternative for the PIC community, but in lack of simplified language, it still remains just another development board.
PIC based Arduino: [Link]
The xu1541 is the modern way to connect CBM IEC bus devices to todays USB equipped PCs and it is meant to replace the printer port solutions based on the so-called original x1541 cable. The xu1541 interface allows you e.g. to attach a VIC1541 disk drive to your desktop PC as depicted below. This allows for easy transfer of disk images from and to the old units and helps you preserve your ancient data.
xu1541 Interface: [Link]
The Arduino system offers an easy and open-source method for programming microcontrollers. Normally this means using a serial cable or USB cable attached directly to the microcontroller project. But what if your project is floating in a weather balloon, glued to the bottom of a swimming pool or baked into a loaf of bread? It would be great to upload code changes wirelessly, and even greater if you could do it from several kilometers away.
The following example demonstrates how to build a complete wireless solution for uploading code to a remote Arduino microcontroller using a couple of XBee radios, and a handy function for accomplishing wireless resets.
Arduino Wirelessly Programming System Based on XBee: [Link]
Remember when i told you a few words about a new revolutionary USB Module named VMUSIC2 ? The VMUSIC2 is a complete MP3 player module from FTDI, Inc. which makes it easy to integrate MP3 functionality in to your next microcontroller project. It has two interfaces: SPI or UART (serial)
This instructable will cover getting connected and controlling your VMUSIC2 module from hyperterminal. I recommend starting out this way because it will allow you to get familiar with the commands and get a feel for how it works before connecting it to your microcontroller. I will follow up with another instructable on controlling it from a microcontroller.
Getting started with VMUSIC2: [Link]