Early June 2020 I received my long-awaited Sonoff Zigbee bridge along with Itead‘s pre-programmed Zigbee CC2531 USB dongle which means I am starting to write about low-power-consumption Zigbee devices including some from ZemiSmart. This update July 6, 2020 mentions the experimental Tasmota template for the Sonoff Zigbee Bridge.
First things first, the Sonoff Zigbee Bridge has both WiFi and Zigbee LEDs, a pairing recessed button and a microUSB connector. Other than that, it’s plain white and similar in shape like the black Sonoff RF Bridge (both run over WiFi).
Tasmotizing the The Sonoff Zigbee Bridge is still experimental apparently (https://templates.blakadder.com/sonoff_ZBBridge.html) so it looks like I’ll mainly be using the little dongle with my Raspberry Pi 4 – but I had a good play with the unmodified Bridge and the eWeLink software first. I should also take this opportunity to thank Zemismart as they sent me their somewhat larger Zemismart Zigbee Bridge which uses a hardwired Ethernet connection whereas the Sonoff product is WiFi based. Both require their own APP and of course, the cloud (at least for now – so read on.
Step 1: Turn on the new Sonoff Zigbee bridge, turn on the eWeLink APP on the phone – remind the APP when requested of the WiFi password – seconds later – done – THAT’S it, no button pushing, nothing. The APP gave my Zigbee Bridge a really dumb default name – quickly fixed – I called it “Zigbee Bridge” just to be original.
Note the reference to “child devices” above.
Step 2: Plug the Zigbee DIY Smart Switch controller into the mains – it’s blue light flashes…. back to the eWeLink APP, that Bridge rectangle above left, touch that – ADD… found a device….”device00042 is OFF”. SO easy – again no button pressing – but I don’t want the default name… right “zigbasic” it is. I like it.
After touching ON on the eWeLink APP, my new “zigbasic” now has a RED light as well as the BLUE light. No change on the bridge which just has it’s blue light on. If I manually press the on-of toggle on the BASIC, still no change on the bridge – but everything works – WELL – THAT was easy. As an aside, I hope Zigbee proves to have good range otherwise I’ll need lots of bridges…. some mains-powered devices can act as repeaters – I’ve not ACTUALLY seen that behaviour yet.
I found a tiny flaw already. With the APP focussed on my new device – ON, I disconnected the device from mains power – then reconnected. The device worked – I could turn it OFF then ON again from the APP – but the APP blue ON/OFF power state indicator remained ON throughout. I backed out of that page to the BRIDGE page and repeated the operation, all was and is now well. But that needs fixing in the eWeLink APP. To test the range, I unplugged the device, plugged it in elsewhere, still within good range – same visual issue until I backed out of the device page. I’ve reported this back to Itead already.
MORE: Don’t anyone ever say I don’t check stuff out properly. I took my new Zigbee DIY into the hallway (a stone wall and an internal wall away) and all was fine, turned it on and off, no problem. I then took it into the living room (2 more open doors) and by now, no blue light, nothing lit up on the device, YET the APP thought it was turning the device on and off – the button on the APP responding to touches no problem – this takes me back to last century and X10 mains control with no feedback. Something else to ponder. If I leave something on, I need to be able to check it’s state. At this point a Tasmota-equipped WiFi device would have (after a delay) changed over to a secondary access point and be responding.
As an aside: I also have one of Itead’s 4-button (433Mhz, not Zigbee) keychains – you will see in the top photo that the latter looks just like many others out there. I’ve not had a chance to test it properly yet but the code looks a little different to the similar-looking devices you see at AliExpress.
Right now I have the Sonoff Zigbee DIY Smart Switch (yes, it deliberately DOES look just like a Sonoff Basic R3) but soon I expect soon to get four more new Itead products – the SNZB-01, SNZB-02, SNZB-03 and SNZB-04. Here is more info:
- SNZB-01 Zigbee wireless switch
- Touch button with single, double press and long press support
- Battery – 3V (CR2450)
- Dimensions – 43x43x16mm
- SNZB-02 Zigbee temperature & humidity sensor
- Unnamed temperature and humidity sensor
- Battery – 3V (CR2450)
- Dimensions – 43x43x14mm
- SNZB-03 Zigbee motion sensor
- Built-in PIR sensor with 6m range and 110°viewing angle.
- Battery – 3V (CR2450)
- Dimensions – 35x39x28mm
- SNZB-04 Zigbee wireless door/window sensor
- Magnet + sensor
- Battery – 3V (CR2450)
- Magnet – 32×15.6x13mm
- Sensor – 47x27x13.5mm
Itead Zigbee CC2531 USB Dongle
Of course these devices will run using the company’s eWeLink App for IOS and Android but being me you can expect I’ll be doing my best to get everything integrated into Node-Red and NOT on the cloud and to that extent I then took, rather than the Bridge, the Itead custom pre-programmed Zigbee CC2531 USB dongle and plugged it into a Raspberry Pi4 USB(2) socket and grabbed the freely downloadable https://www.zigbee2mqtt.io/ software (which also handles a SHEDLOAD of Zigbee devices). If you read my blog entry on the Instar cameras, the name Mike Polinowski might ring a bell. I’ve since kept in touch with Mike and he’s into Zigbee – this is useful reading… https://mpolinowski.github.io/zigbee-sensors-in-fhem
Anyway, I reset the Sonoff Zigbee DIY (referred herein as the basic-zbr3) and it worked quite readily with the USB dongle. At that point, a pair of Smart RGBW bulbs turned up from Zemismart and I added them into the mix. Lovely and so easy to set up without any cloud. I’ve yet to succeed with the Zigbee meshing ability or integrate Alexa with these products – but I’ll likely give that it’s own blog entry where I’ll also do justice to other Zemismart Zigbee products..
As for timescales for the four new Sonoff sensors – due to the pandemic that is really anyone’s guess right now but I’m hopeful they will arrive soon.
As you might expect from Itead, these sensor products will be very sensibly priced – more when I get devices in my hands. Check in from time to time as I will be updating the blog as always.
Unfotunately, the Zemismart touch wall switch does not seem reliable on a 5w LED (this is the British version of the wall switch with no neutral). The Zemismart bulbs, are bright and were easy to pair the first time. As they don’t have any buttons, five off-on cycles is supposed to reset them, that didn’t work every time for me, but a random number of on-off cycles in quick succession soon brought them into flashing mode and soon after they were all paired up. Re-pairing them proved impossible however after the first time.
At some point as this subject expands, I’ll need to split this blog into two because (for several reasons) I’m learning more by the minute on the subject of Zigbee – and I trust that interested tech readers will soon contribute to that knowledge. So, firstly, helpful subscriber steve Lenehan just put me onto the Ikea Tradfri repeater as (apparently) a reliable repeater at a reasonable price – and so I bought one. Meanwhile I went off on a tangent and watched Paul Hibbert’s video on the subject of Ikea and their Tradfri Zigbee Gateway – which did not impress him very much. SO, more feedback guys please.