Communication Protocol Boards / Controls for custom design work?

Does anyone know if there is a company or place you can buy your own controls to make something using any of the supported protocols?

I’m looking for some control board with an actuator or such so I can build my own ‘smart devices’. I really want to build inexpensive baseboard diffuser I can control. Or many other things. I can supply the power and such but just need a starting point with some developer control board/communication board and allow me to attach outputs (and even inputs if needed).

I found ‘Z-Uno’. Not sure if they are still in business. Amazon doesn’t list them anymore (Currently Unavailable) but they are about $70 a pop. Just updating thread for reference…

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Various companies make “developer kits” to prove their chipsets; but not sure if any are practical for mass production “as-is”. XBee, for example, are rather expensive for mass production.

The TI ZigBee/BLE/MCU chip is great (ummm… Can’t remember the chip number!), but the ZigBee HA library is only compatible with an extremely expensive IDE software.

If I understand your question, this used to be done with the thingshield, but that was discontinued last year.

Nowadays most people use the ESP 8266, which is a Wi-Fi unit. Very inexpensive, typically less than $10. And since it is Wi-Fi, it will work with both the US and UK versions of the hub.

Some people also use Spark Photon

You could find discussion of some additional alternatives in the following thread, but again, most people are just using the ESP 8266.

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Sure… but those are all WiFi options, @JDRoberts.

Certainly fine for one-offs, prototyping, or when “wifi” is the desired protocol for the final product (e.g.,; but there’s a lot of value to developing on ZigBee or Z-Wave.

Oh… Just reminds me that Samsung ARTIK hardware also has ZigBee included. That’s worth looking into!


If you want to use zwave for a maker project you can, but most people don’t because of the cost. ($65 just for the Shield, you still need to add a raspberry pi)

Zigbee is a good option, but technically more complex.

Most of the makers in the community are now using the ESP8266 for both cost and simplicity. Some who have developed commercial products, such as @johnr , have used zigbee, but then they wouldn’t be asking this question. They’d already be familiar with the tools and just asking if there’s a recommended stack. :sunglasses:


How about using a Raspberry Pi running Node.JS with a Bootstrap mobile interface to your phone. My latest article in Nuts and Volts details all this with sample circuits and code. Has nothing to do with SmartThings but could be connected to the hub if desired.

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