Using XBee 900’s for Wildlife Tracking
We wanted to find out if XBee 900’s could be used as tracking system. Our first test took place at Washington Square Park. We used two XBee Pro 900 RPSMA. Monkey XBee was fitted with a Digi 2 dBi 7 inch omnidirectional antenna. The trackers XBee was also fitted with the same omnidirectional antenna. One person stayed with the trackers XBee at Washington Square Park, while the other person walked north on Fifth Avenue with the monkey XBee. We were able to get a range of .48 kilometers or 1/3 of a mile with the omnidirectional antennas. We then changed the trackers antenna to a 12 dBi Yagi directional antenna. Using the Yagi antenna increased our distance range marginally. We were able to get an additional .09 kilometers or 300 feet from the Yagi. An increased range was a secondary benefit for us. We used the Yagi antenna mainly to locate the direction of the monkey.
The second was at Central Park. We repeated the first test to see if the trees and foliage changed our results compared to the urban environment of Washington Square Park and Fifth Avenue. The distance range was similar to urban test, the real issue is radio interference. We observed packet loss with the XBee’s. This issue is a characteristic of a highly sophisticated networking protocol. Due to the high radio interference, packets were being resent causing a delay in trying to find the actual direction of the monkey collar. XBee’s are great for getting you data reliably back and forth. However, for our purpose we don’t care for data integrity. We were instead trying to use the XBee’s as radio beacons. Our conclusion was the XBee’s are not a suitable solution for replacing the current analog tracking system.