The Itead Journey Continues

Zigbee Bridge 3.0

I’ve had the latest Zigbee dongle from Itead for a while but it was embargoed until release – I note that CNX was quick off the mark to announce this – anyway here it is.. version 3.0 of their incredibly cheap Zigbee dongle featuring Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 MCU (like we care as long as it works). The photo here is the dongle sitting on my bench.

Itead of course are responsible for everything from Sonoff BASIC through to various WIFI and Zigbee home automation/IOT products. They also so their own boxed RF Bridge and Zigbee Bridge products. Thanks at least in part to pressure from the DIY sector, they have brought out this low cost PCB dongle – I hesitate to mention pricing as that all depends on where you live, shall we say a mere few pounds/dollars/Euros. It’s in the link below.

This device is compatible with the open source Zigbee2MQTT firmware – which is popular with those of us who may not be that keen on relying on proprietary cloud solutions. Regular readers will know for example that I have MQTT broker Mosquitto running on a Raspberry Pi at the heart of my home control system.

So, compared to the previous version, the Zigbee 3.0 dongle is faster, has more RAM and a more powerful radio section. You can plug the unit into a USB port on RPi or other computing device and it works with OpenHab or Home Assistant (neither of which I use) to control Sonoff Zigbee modules.

I won’t fill up space going through the specs here (which could soon get out of date) so here’s the link to the relevant ITEAD page which also links to their sensors. Check the link if interested – it has FAR more info than I show here.

Zigbee Dongle 3.0

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14 thoughts on “The Itead Journey Continues

  1. Hi Peter, what home automation solution do you run on your PI? I thought you used HA/NodeRed from your past workings with zoned heating/TRVs.

    1. Hi Michael

      No, don’t run HA though I have played with it. I use Node-Red (for timing I use my own node-red-contrib-bigtimer), Mosquitto MQTT and Node-Red Dashboard – for graphing I use Grafana. I’ve created my own thermostats from scratch with Node-Red doing much of the driving.

      Regards

      Pete

        1. Presuming we are talking about the Sonoff ZBbridge which has been flashed with tasmota-zbbridge software – then that tasmota version essentially contains a ported version of zigbee2mqtt called Zigbee2Tasmota. It can then be used in 2 modes – in the ZHA mode the esp8266 bridges the data directly to a Home Assistant instance over wifi, in the 2nd mode the esp8266 converts the zigbee message into a formatted mqtt message using zigbee2tasmota which is then sent via wifi to your mqtt server. There may be differences in the supported devices due to the different chipsets used on the cc2531 and the newer chipsets used in the ZBbridge/IteadEFR32MG1 but I don’t know of them.

          In either case native zigbee2mqtt does not play any part.

  2. Many thanks! Sounds like a useful lockdown project. I have flashed the Sonoff bridge so I can now try pairing devices and compare with the dongle.

  3. Read on Reddit that a lot of people who bought one is having problems connecting to this new Zigbee 3.0 USB dongle/stick under Linux.

    To me, it sounds like it has an issue with the USB to Serial converter chip on the adapter or the device driver for that USB to Serial converter chip. It uses a cheap CH340E chip (which depends on Linux kernel drivers and well as pyserial in Python applications) and CH340 is infamously known to have stability problems on both Linux and Mac OS.

    Anyone that have issues with this in Home Assistant ZHA should really report it to ITead as well:

    https://support.itead.cc/support/home

    I know ITead does not have Home Assistant developers but it will not get their attention otherwise. Suggest referring ITead engineers to the existing issue and ask them to help troubleshoot it.

    https://github.com/home-assistant/core/issues/48592

    At the very least ITead’s should be able to work with Home Assistant developers by testing different firmware and faster to provide additional debug logs as they try to fix via firmware.

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