Saying it took a lifetime seems disingenuous(1), so I won't say that. Practically, in the context of this project, it took about 6 months. Roommate ordered the Pi's forever ago. There was getting the Raspberry Pi online, via some config file configuring. The XBee parts took a long time to come in. Then there was the learning how to solder, the soldering, the Google flailing looking for how to connect a Raspberry Pi to an XBee. Figuring out what a serial port is. How a GPIO works. What UART stands for. (I still don't know.) Recognizing that I didn't have everything I needed. That the XBees I had bought weren't compatible with the Raspberry Pi. What's a volt? More waiting while more parts came in the mail. Realizing that making it work was beyond me. More time spent staring at a computer screen, Googling things. Triumph, and then static. Asking for parts on a mailing list. How do I get more current? Or less resistance? Ohmmmmm.
Unanswered questions (still unanswered) on Stack Overflow and the Digi forums. A helpless email to tech support on a federal holiday. "If I twist it really tight, that counts as soldering, right?". Stripped screws, multiple trips to RadioShack. (Always a different one. Can't let them see you struggle.) A phone call to Grandpa. (Vacuum tubes? Nope, none of those here. But dust. Lots of dust). And then, illumination.
B. What did you learn?
The difference between API and AT mode. The value of persistence. How satisfying hardware projects are. That I am not done yet.
C. What are some open questions from this point?
I still don't know what a transistor is, why the xbee-python library isn't working as promised, what a hardware flow control toggle is supposed to do, or why minicom is still Offline.
But hey, the lights are on.
1. (Wow. No no, wait for it... nope. That red line ain't comin'. Spelled right on the first time)