The explorer board uses an FTDI USB to serial chip which initiates a "Serial Enumerator" transaction when the board is plugged in. The XBee module on the receiver really does not like this and it can, in some circumstances, cause the receiver XBee module to become bricked. Don't panic though, the solution is easy. Just disable the serial enumerator option from the FTDI advanced panel and all we be well.

First, make sure your explorer board is plugged in and then start windows device manager. Under the "Ports" heading, locate the explorer board entry. Right click and then select "properties", then click on the "port setting" tab as shown below:

Next, click on the "Advance..." button to invoke the "Advance Setting" dialog, as shown below:

and make sure that the "Serial Enumerator" option is disabled (not checked).

Unbricking an XBee Module

If you module does become bricked, it's very easy to get it up and running again. It seems that bricked XBees are quite common and so there are many article on the internet on how to unbrick and XBee. I found this article worked very well with the Sparkfun Explorer Board. This is a summary:

  • Take the module out of the interface board.
  • Connect the interface board to the computer.
  • Open X-CTU make sure Baud Rate is set to 9600
  • Go to "Modem Configuration"
  • Put a check in the "Always update firmware" box
  • Select proper modem from drop down menu,
  • Select proper function set and firmware version from drop down menus.
  • Click on the "Write" button. After a few seconds of trying to read the modem, you will get an Info box that says Action Needed. At this point, CAREFULLY insert the module into the interface board.