The MiniBee

Conception: Joseph Malloch, Marije Baalman, Vincent de Belleval, Chris Salter, Marcelo Wanderley
Circuit design & firmware: Joseph Malloch, Marije Baalman
PCB layout: Joseph Malloch

The Sense/Stage MiniBee is a small, wireless sensor board, that can be configured and programmed based on the needs of its application.

  • Small size: 42mm x 35mm
  • Programmable with the Arduino software (example firmware available)
  • Low cost (first prototype series – $32 CDN + cost of XBee board ($25 – $45 CDN depending on model).
  • 11 digital inputs or outputs
  • 6 pulse width modulation (PWM) outputs (digital pins 3, 5,6, 9, 10 and 11)
  • 8 analog inputs at 10 bits resolution
  • I2C communication (on analog pins 4 and 5)
  • Serial communication (to XBee chip or elsewhere), at maximum 19200 kbps)
  • Footprint for LIS302DL accellerometer chip
  • Power consumption: ca. 70 mA with XBee series 1 chip
PCB Layout for the Sense/Stage MiniBee wireless mote.

PCB Layout for the Sense/Stage MiniBee wireless mote.


The Sense/Stage MiniBee is based on the Arduino Pro Mini, and built around the ATmega168 (see the datasheet) and the XBee wireless chip.

The Sense/Stage MiniBee has 11 digital inputs or outputs (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs) and 8 analog inputs. The board has holes for mounting pin headers to connect to these inputs and outputs. There is also a footprint for the LIS302DL accellerometer on the board. The board runs at 3.3V and 8 MHz.

The Sense/Stage MiniBee is made to fit an XBee or XBeePro chip for wireless mesh network communication in the 2.4 GHz range. It can receive and transmit serial data to this chip, and there is control over the sleep pin of the wireless chip, so energy can be saved by turning the wireless chip off.

There is example firmware for the Sense/Stage MiniBee with easy configuration to read out analog and digital data, and send out digital data or pulse width modulation. Or, use I2C to communicate to sensors, or read out ISP data. It can also receive and transmit serial data to the XBee chip at 19200 kbps.

The Sense/Stage MiniBee has been used in a network configuration with up to 35 nodes active at the same time in one room, both sending and receiving data.

For more information, please refer to the SenseStage website. The MiniBee is also sold commercially at the Sense/Stage MiniBee Webshop.

Check out the open source hardware and firmware/software on GitHub.

Projects and productions using the MiniBee:

Related publications:

Marije A. J. Baalman, Vincent De Belleval, Joseph Malloch, Joseph Thibodeau, Christopher Salter and Marcelo M. Wanderley.“Sense/Stage – Low Cost, Open Source Wireless Sensor Infrastructure For Live Performance And Interactive, Real-Time Environments”. In Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), pp. 242–249, New York, USA, 2010.

Marije A. J. Baalman, Harry C. Smoak, Christopher L. Salter, Joseph Malloch, and Marcelo M. Wanderley. Sharing Data in Collaborative, Interactive Performances: the SenseWorld DataNetwork. In Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME09).