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 sell 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 (RPi4, a long time ago it was an RPi2, then 3) 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. See my later blog about potential issues with RPi4 interfering with the dongle – put it on a lead to keep some distance.
I won’t fill up space going through the specs here (which could soon get out of date) so here’s the link to the relevant ITEAD page which also links to their sensors.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.
And watch out for their movement and temperature sensors – they both use a CR2450 battery and the batteries seem to flatten in a shorter length of time than you’d expect?