Xbees and rf modules

Hello guys. 

I was thinking about buying a few xbees for my lasertag project but since they're a bit costly i wanted to ask you if it fits my project before buying them.

I'll tell you what i want to to: basically lasertag is a game where there are lots of players that "shoot" at each other with IR pulses. What i wanted to add to it is some sort of "hit feedback", something, be it sound or LED, that tells me whether or not i have succesfully hit my target.

I was planning on having a "server" at the center of the playing field, and an xbee on every player's module. Once a person is hit, his system check the ID of the bullet understanding who shot it, then it sends a "this ID shot me!!111" code to the server xbee, which then sends it back to the ID of the shooter, and finally his system plays a sound.

Couple of questions:

a) is the server really needed or is player to player communication possible? Do consider that number of players might be around 4 per team or more.

b) since these modules cost a lot, could i have a powerful and costly xbee working as the server and cheaper ones on each player's module? Say the server xbee is a 60mW pro and cover 1.5km, does that mean that a player at 1.5km can also have a weaker 500m module or not (as long as he is in range of the powerful server xbee)?

c) is there a better solution to xbees or any tip you'd like to give me?



Do you have parts of it already?

If you made it LOUD enough on the IR receiver module - the shooter be gratified in hearing the sound.  This would the be simplest/cheapest feedback.  But from reading, it seems you are interested in keeping track of hits and who hit who.

a) - I believe there is a broadcast and mesh mode for the xbee’s - you might want to check out the video (lmr live) on the 2 part series - I assume that you will be using a microcontroller for each xbee - that is going to start getting pricey

Currently, I dont have an xbee so I dont feel qualified to answer b) , however, if you end up doing your own home brew rf - its typically more cost effective/easier to put more power in the transmitter than rx amplifiers

Fritsl & clcheunghk have both experimented with these type - which is shorter range and slower tx rate but they might fit your application


While i was eating pasta, i

While i was eating pasta, i came up with the following facts:

-IR beam’s range is at most 200m, at “very” most.

-to hit a player there have to be no obstacles in between

now, I ANDed the above statements and remembered rik talking about achieveing a range of about 200m or more in open space, so i guess Easy Radio or similar modules might work, not to mention i have one in my “electronics box”. Why didn’t i think of that before? Silly me.

Thanks for reminding me of the easy radio modules :=)

did you think about using ir

did you think about using ir lasers? that’s what the pros use

yes and no. I thought about

yes and no. I thought about it for a bit then i just decided not to think about it anymore :=) It would have an amazing range, but it would require a lot of sensors on the body, but the main reason i don’t want to use them is because of the safety issues. That’s what scares me the most.

Afaik most systems use IR, there are a few that don’t though (eg: the Miles system used by the US army)


It all comes down to distance. If 200 m is the absolute maximum transmit/receive distance, then MAYBE you could use the 434 MHz radio links (don’t call them Easy Radio unless you’re willing to pay much higher prices). And there are a lot of prerequisites there:
1) big antennas, on both sides
2) sit still, well at least your central server should
3) more volts is bigger signal, this means more batteries on the person/shooter/victim
4) one direction only, victim signals to server, no talking back
5) all transmitters use the same frequency, so don’t keep broadcasting or you will block the channel for others
6) use short data bursts, but also repeat your data/info, use checksums
7) altitude, higher antennas are better

I suggest every victim keeps his own score on a uC and transmits it to the server at (ir)regular intervals. Don’t send messages like “I’ve been hit again” and trust the server to count them all up. This would violate rule 6).
Worst case: your scores finally make it to the server once everybody gets together after a match. Probably next to the server,

I gotta find myself some

I gotta find myself some more powerful modules i think. Datasheets say these things reach a distance of around 150m. I would need something like 250m to be 100% sure it is gonna be transmitted. Anyone know of something capable of that similar to these modules? (or even different, as long as it is cheap :=) )

Just saw rik’s post!

Hey thanks for the infos

Hey thanks for the infos rik!

The point is not really keeping track of the score, since that can be done at the end of the match with cables (everyone gets back to the main base and uploads the score to some computing machine.

What i am looking for is a fast way to tell the shooter he has hit the target. I think i might stick with those modules (easy radioish) but maybe not exactly the ones you used, as official datasheets talk about 150m while the IR could get up to 200m. I guess i would need to go for 250m rf modules to be 100% sure.

Gotta find myself a more powerful module maybe.

datasheet promises

When they say “150 m”, they mean “you should expect something in the neighbourhood of 150 m depending on all that ■■■■ Rik talked about”.

And you’re right. There is no way my modules will give you an immediate, guaranteed notification that you’ve hit something in the last second. But then again, what marksman at 200 m would get that kind of data in the heat of battle?

True. As usual the best way

True. As usual the best way of understanding if things work is just testing them. I’ve found myself something to do that will keep me busy tomorrow :=)

I’ll have to test both range and speed. They’re both a great concern…if it’s not fast enough (say 200/300ms at most) then it’s gonna become more annoying than it would be useful. 


EDIT: I’m not sure i should trust those guys but…they’re extremely cheap, no shipping charges and 500m (hope it’s true)! :O http://cgi.ebay.com/RF-RFID-Transmitter-module-315MHz-500-meter-9906A-/130422527383?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1e5dc9d597#ht_687wt_1137


I’m not sure, but I think

I’m not sure, but I think 315MHz modules are not allowed in europe and these are only transmitter modules, no receiver. 433MHz and 868MHz is ok in Europe, 433MHz gives you a greater range. Maybe the RFM12 transceiver modules is an option too or the RFM02 when you only need a transmitter, they are cheap and should work >150m. With a better receiver antenna (Yagi) the range should be more than 200m.


have you had a look at quasars 2.4ghz tranceivers?

the maplin link is here

and the manufacturer link is here

Looks like the range on

Looks like the range on those is too limited, i’m looking for about 200m.

Thanks RobotFreak.They do

Thanks RobotFreak.

They do look very interesting, i’ll see if i can find a distributor for those.

There exists 2 modules, the

There exists 2 modules, the RFM12 is a 5V device, the RFM12B is 3V. Some distributors in Euroland: pollin.de, jeelabs (only RFM12B 868MHz) and tme.eu (only RFM12B). The interface is SPI, for Arduino ready-to-use libraries exists:


One thing to note is the pin

One thing to note is the pin spacing on the rfm12’s are smaller as you may have noticed, so you’ll have to make a custom mount or pin setup for them. example of how I did it using some machine pins… This however may be overkill as I don’t think you need to use all of the pins…custom pcb would work as well…