I’m interested in designing and prototyping a PCB with Z-wave or ZigBee in order to connect to the SmartThings hub. I was curious if there are any recommendations on specific integrated circuits, manufacturers, and whats the process of getting a bare bones wireless IC to connect to the hub.
I’ve read for instance, that many chips that claim to be Zwave or ZigBee will in fact not connect due to non-compliance with the protocol. I’m also interested in how the security is handled between the hub and a new custom device if anyone can shed some light on this subject.
As far as Zwave goes, if it’s a certified chip (there are only two licensed manufacturers), it should not have any trouble connecting. Z wave does allow for the addition of manufacturer – proprietary commandsets, which then might not work with a different controller, but is long as you are using standard commandsets, everything should work fine.
With zigbee, the issue isn’t the protocol, it’s which profile is being used. See the following (this is a clickable link)
The process of getting a bare-bones chip to add to a SmartThings account is the same as any device for these two protocols. As long as it follows the established communication protocol, its messages will be processed just like any other device.
If you are using a certified Z wave chip, no problem. Just don’t buy counterfeits or all bets are off.
If you are using a zigbee chip, you need to make sure that it has the ZHA (zigbee home automation) stack loaded. This profile requires more computing power than some of the other profiles, so not all ICs will be able to run it. So at the time of purchase you want to make sure that the chip can be loaded with the ZHA profile stack.
Quality does vary a lot, particularly if you are buying a no-name Chinese chip. For a beginning consumer market project, I would stick with one of the big manufacturers, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.
Although zigbee 3.0 is the newest profile, I don’t know how well it works with a SmartThings hub. They just aren’t very many devices using this profile on the market yet. I would stick with ZHA 1.2 for now.
Security for both Z wave and zigbee is handled through the standard protocols. ( The SmartThings hub is certified for both.) So that should be handled automatically by the firmware.
Once you have a device which is operating with a standard protocol, then you just need to make sure there is a device type handler that will work with it. If you device is just a standard device class, such as a light switch or a relay or a simple sensor, then you may be able to use one of the existing generic device type handlers. Otherwise, you can create a custom device type handler for it. This is software that a SmartThings customer loads to their own account to enable communication with the device. See the following threads:
This is just the FAQ for SmartThings customers who want to add custom code to their account. It will introduce the terminology and concepts.
And this one is specific for developers and device manufacturers who want to add a new device that no one else has ever used before. It should have some helpful resources.