Forums > MaxMSP

xbee to max/msp without arduino

Jul 27 2012 | 4:06 pm

any hint or experience of plugging sensor , button or whatever straight to a xbee and to get the data in max ?
all this on osx?

please share

Jul 27 2012 | 5:58 pm

How are you going to configure the xbee?
You need a computer or microcontroller with a serial interface to talk to the xbee.

Jul 28 2012 | 12:21 am

i am using a macbook pro and i got the xbee explorer, i normally use xbee with a funnel but i know it is possible to get ride of the fio and use the xbee only, to talk to an other xbee plug on a xbee explorer for simple sensor reading. I just wonder how to do it. i didn’t found so much information or atleast some easy info to read for me on how to do it on the web.

Jul 28 2012 | 1:06 am

OK , got it found the AT command i as looking for :)o

Oct 14 2013 | 4:20 am

I’m trying to solve the same problem now. Can you tell me what you did to get it working?


Oct 14 2013 | 5:20 am

hey, on mac , i have been using moltosenso to configure the xbees.
Don’t remember exactly what was the settings i ended up using, but if you do a search on that forum, you will find a link + patch on how to do it.

The basis is to really understand the bytes the xbee are sending, the easiest is to read the doc from digi. it will take you some time to get into it, but trust me it will save you lot of time at the end.

check these links:

good luck!

Oct 15 2013 | 2:08 am

Hi All,

I’ve done this for a project. All setup done within Max:

-- Pasted Max Patch, click to expand. --


The above patch sets a single pair of Xbees. One collects data from the built in ADCs and the other receives and sends to the computer. Please note the changes in baudrate. By default Xbees are 9600kbs I change this to 115200 for faster transmission. So when I need to make changes to my boards I first need to connect using the 15200 baud so that I can restore to factory settings and then reprogram as needed.

Patcher to read incoming data once boards have been configured:

-- Pasted Max Patch, click to expand. --


The first 10 digits from the [unpack] object are the message header which I wasn’t using. If you enable more ADC channels the values for the sensors you will need to add a pair of integers to the [unpack] object. Each sensor will have MSB and LSB which you can then parse repeating the simple math with the [* 256] and [+ ] objects.

Hope it helps

– Miguel

Apr 24 2014 | 5:21 am


May 18 2014 | 4:36 pm

Does anyone know if it’s possible to use the xbee directly (as mentioned above) but to SEND messages? More specifically to turn an LED on/off using just an XBee.

A follow up to that would be if it’s possible to communicate with multiple (discreet) XBees this way.

What I want to be able to do is, using Max, turn an LED on/off on 4 different devices, wirelessly.

May 18 2014 | 6:33 pm

Yes that’s possible search for Xbee direct io or direct line passing.

here’s some info:

May 19 2014 | 2:05 am

Hmm, that’s very useful!

I actually think I might try a "lo-fi" solution and hack some (cheap) wireless vibrators. Ordered one and will see if it’s possible to change their transmit frequencies.

May 20 2014 | 1:04 pm

here is another tut

xbees have digital inputs and few analogs inputs.

May 20 2014 | 1:23 pm

Oh those are handy! And very diy-friendly looking.

Ok, so is it possible to have one sending XBee communicate to 4 receiver XBees this way?

As in, one xbee connected to my laptop with a ftdi breakout board, and then 4 independent XBees which have LEDs that can be turned on/off independently (via Max).

May 21 2014 | 6:46 pm

Normally yes via broadcast mode. You would have the sending xbee send to address 0xFFFF. I’m not entirely sure it works for direct mode though.

May 21 2014 | 10:42 pm

So sending to that address would send the same message to all XBees? And then a different receiver ID along with the message you want?

May 27 2014 | 10:56 am

I thought of an interesting workaround to this problem by just sending the same message to all the XBees and then just connecting the correct pins. So basically configuring 4 I/O pins to being digital, and connecting a single LED to a different pin on each receiving XBee. That way I can just send 1-on to all the XBees and only one will respond.

That seems like it should work.

One thing I’m still unsure about is the actual serial messages to send to the receiving XBee to turn a digital pin on/off. The guide posted above ( is super handy, but other than explaining how to configure it, doesn’t really say what messages it receives. Checking out the ‘input’ tutorials, the same problem appears to be the case. It only shows the configuration settings, but not the messages that would be transmitted.

Jun 15 2014 | 6:19 pm

I’ve extended Luke DuBois & Rob Faludis initial stab at a parser for MaxMSP Xbee Digital & Analog Sampling Data (IR)

It’s available for download.

Jun 16 2014 | 3:54 am


Also found this (amazing looking) resource while digging through the links there:

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Forums > MaxMSP