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I have a Zigbee Pro with Arduino whose range is 2 miles as per specifications. But practically its maximum range is only 200 meters. I am using XCTU software. Is there any setting/configuration in XCTU to increase range? If not possible to increase range, is there any module which is compatible with Arduino?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What is XCTU software? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which kind of antenna are you using?. Change the antenna to a one more sensitive model/design can help to increase the range. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alf
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ Leon XCTU is the softwear used which interface our computer to zigbee \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alf I am using in built antenna in zigbee which is of about 2 to 3 cm. Is this right to dishoulder that antenna and shoulder another antenna there? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vivekababd: see my answer bellow regarding the antenna. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alf
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 0:28

3 Answers 3

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1- Depend on the manufacturer of your ZigBee maybe it provides a setting/configuration to increase the range. You should provide information about manufacturer and model.

2- Technically it is possible to increase the range of your signal improving the:

  • Antenna (gain, sensitivity to body effects etc.)- Choose an external antenna with a good gain and sensitivity factors. Usually external antenna connected through UFL or similar has better gain and sensitivity values than a on board antenna.
  • Sensitivity: Lowest input power with acceptable link quality. There are circuits like the SKY65336 which increase significant the range (see).
  • Channel Selectivity: How well a chip works in an environment with interference. It must be checked by your self or there are zigbee modules with scan function to determinate the best chanel.
  • Output power - Usually fixed by the model. Choose a Zigbee model with enought ouput power.see
  • Environment (Line of sight, obstructions, reflections, multi-path fading)- Place your devices in the best possible location.
  • Data rate: to reduce the data rate can also increase the rage of your zigbee network.
  • Wavelenght: Zigbee module with longer wavelegth (low frequency) have more range.

    There are also expensive commercial solutions to extend the zigbee network even more than 10 milles (old article).

3- Simple formula to calculate theorically the range, so you can get an estimation about the effect of your antennas gain and Zigbee model (Tx & Rx Power & wavelength) with the range:

enter image description here

Pr is the power available from receiving antenna
Pt is the transmitted power.
Gr is the gain of your reciever antenna
Gt is the gain of your transmitter antenna.
lambda is the wavelength -> c/freq of your Zigbee

4- You should not have problem with different models of ZigBee, if you have Arduino compatible with IEEE 802.15.4 (List_of_Arduino_boards_and_compatible_systems)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't Pr the received power? Also, I find it odd that the range does not take into account the error bit rate, datarate, noise... Because there is no such thing as "below d, the link's fine, above d, the link's broken". Error bit rate increases as d increases for all else equal from free space losses, and the definite range depends on what error bit rate you can tolerate/correct. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 11:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ See this tutorial I just found, which looks very good on the subject: intersil.com/content/dam/Intersil/documents/an98/an9804.pdf \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 11:20
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Probably ZigBee devices' range is 2 km only in deep space. Depending on the power of your module (high-power ones can transmit up to 20 dBm (100 mW, although it's not legal in all countries). Note that this is the same power used by WiFi, so it's reasonable to expect a similar order of magnitude for range.

Also note that your range will decrease due to:

  • obstacles;
  • reflections (may increase or decrease actually);
  • background noise;
  • temperature;
  • humidity.

For longer ranges you might be better off with lower frequencies (868 MHz?) and possibly higher power.

Finally, even if you can achieve the specified range, don't expect to have a reliable communication.

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I've been fooling around with the HopeRF RFM69HW module, which supports lower frequencies (433MHz penetrates obstacles better than 900MHz or 2.4GHz), lower bitrates (down to 1200 bit/s for robust reception), and reasonably high power (18dBm, or 20dBm at a reduced duty cycle). The best result I've gotten so far has been 320m range with simple quarter-wave wire antennas, but other folks have reported ranges of 540m at 38400 bps, and 2400m at 1200 bps, so my setup is probably not very good.

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