ArbotiX Commander Getting Started Guide

This guide will help you build and set up your ArbotiX Commander.

Commander Kit

The ArbotiX Commander is an Arduino based hand-held controller designed for controlling a variety of robots.

A standard ArbotiX Commander kit consists of the following:

  • 1 x Geekduino (An Arduino-Compatible board with an ATmega 328)
  • 1 x ArbotiX Commander Shield
  • 1 x Hardware kit

The ArbotiX Commander will require the following to function:

  • 4 x AA 1.5v Alkaline Batteries (Do not use rechargable battereis with lower voltages)
  • 1 x XBee Communication Module
  • 1 x Micro USB Cable (Optional for re-programming)

The ArbotiX Commander can control any robot that meets the following criteria

  • Has an XBee Module
  • Can Communicate at 38400bps over a UART serial port
  • Can read the commander data packet

The ArbotiX Robocontroller meets all of these requirements. It has a built socket for an XBee module, can communicate at the needed baud rate, and can interpret the commander packet useing the Commander library. The ArbotiX Robocontroller is used in every InterbotiX Robot, making every InterbotiX robot compatible with the ArbotiX Commander. Just load the appropriate firmware on to the Robocontroller, plug in configured XBees into the Commander and the Robocontroller and you can control the robot via the Commander.

The assembly guide for the ArbotiX Commander Kit can be found Here.


Every Geekduino board included in the ArbotiX Commander comes pre-programmed with the stock Commander firmware. However, if you would like to re-load or modify the firmware, continue reading.

You will need a USB micro cable to connect the Geekduino to your computer.

Before you can program the ArbotiX Commander, follow the first three steps of the ArbotiX Getting Started Guide. This will help you to install the Arduino IDE and the ArbotiX Hardware and Libary files which include the ArbotiX Commander firmware. Once you have followed the steps, open the Arduino IDE. Then you can find the firmware at:

File -> Sketches -> ArbotiX Sketches -> Commander

The Geekduino is board compatible with the Arduino Duemilanove, so pick the following board from the board menu.

Tools -> Board -> Arduino Duemilanove w/ ATmega 328

If you want to learn more about programming the Geekduino, see the Geekduino Getting Started Guide

You do not need the commander library to load the commander firmare. Only robots on the receieving end of a commander need the library.

XBee Setup

Configuring XBee modules

For the ArbotX Commander to communicate with an ArbotiX-M robocontroller, you will need 2 XBee modules. This guide will help you set up the IDs and baud rates for the 2 XBees.

The ArbotiX Commander and ArbotiX-M are not designed to work with XBee Pros because of power limitations.

Commander Packet and Calc


  • It is possible to build your own commander. You will need an Arduino Compatible board, 2 joysticks (or other analong sensors), 4 pushbuttons, and an XBee breakout.
  • The ArbotiX Commander does best with fresh alkaline batteries. Lower voltage rechargable batteries may cause unpredictable behavior
  • Return to Your Robot Getting Started Guide

    Once you've set up your Commander, you can return to the Getting Started Guide for your particular robot.


    Old Commander Guide - Uses same packet structure as commander v2