I am hoping the authors of the Arduino in Action book would be so kind as to share their thoughts on the best way to go about adding wireless networking to the Arduino. I am brand new to the Arduino (picked up one at the Dayton Hamvention) and would like to add WiFi connectivity to it and I'm sure there are a lot of options out there but I would like to get a recommendation on the most cost effective way to do this. I want to transfer a very small amount of data with it to my PC which is already on the WiFi network but it will likely send the data frequently. Your thoughts? - JerryR
There are a number of ways of achieving what you want. I've been using an Arduino and an Xbee breakout board with a WiFly RN-XV module that has been very easy to set up and use, Jordan has good experience of using Arduino wireless shields and hopefully he will chime in with this discussion.
Martin has some good suggestions. For relatively low data transferring and wireless comm's with great range to the computer, I love Xbee. Much much better than Bluetooth which I've always found to be a bit of a pin tbh. However, if you want to get your board up and running on WiFi, whether you need the extra bandwidth, range, or internet connectivity, then I'd recommend the official WIFI Shield. A while back I would have recommended the WiFly shield (notice the l in Fly, it can be confusing) which has a great library, and indeed I originally wrote the WiFi chapter of Arduino in Action with the WiFly, but then Arduino went and released an "official" WiFi shield. It's implementation is more consistant with the rest of the Ethernet library included as part of the main Arduino IDE and so I'd recommend it #1. If you go the WiFi route, the book includes instructions and a sketch using the official WiFi shield, but just in case you use the WiFly, we've put up an extra .pdf on the manning Arduino in Action site.
Is your opinion of Bluetooth based on the technology itself, or on the libraries available for Arduino?
Do you have the same remarks for Bluetooth on other platforms?
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Mostly on my experience with Bluetooth in general. I'm not writing it off by any means, its been useful in many scenarios, and I love my Magic Mouse. But I've also experienced a lot of BT peripherals that have difficulty pairing consistently with the machine.
In terms of Arduino BT, I've helped a student use it to built a wireless music controller and it was pretty cool. But in recent times we've used Xbee (ZigBee) which doesn't need to pair (once its configured, albeit which took a minute to figure out), and just starts spitting serial wirelessly as soon as its turned on. They also tend to have a bit more range than BT, but that of course depends on your needs (may be desirable, may not). WiFi has the networking options which is great for certain projects, and also increased bandwidth and data transfer speeds if thats required. As always though, which way to go depends a lot on the project/goal etc.
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Thank you very much for the great and thoughtful replies. This is really helpful to me as a newcomer to Arduino. I will check out all the resources you mentioned. I believe I will want a traditional WiFi solution so the WiFi adapter shield sounds like the right solution for me. However, it is great to know there are other technologies I can try as well.
One last question - and this is a bit off the main topic but has anyone found a current measuring device that they like to hook up to an A/D on the Arduino? That is, I was thinking I would like to be able to measure the current in a 110 volt cable (like with an induction meter) and feed the (low-voltage) measurement signal (hopefully like 1-5v DC) into an A/D on the Arduino. Any thoughts on that too?