ZigBee Development Board

Absolutely. I have it in a private BitBucket repository, which I am happy to give you access to: Just PM me your BitBucket handle. It’s not so much a “firmware” as it is the BitCloud framework with some bugs fixed and one of the examples modified to work with SmartThings. Nonetheless, it should definitely help you hit the ground running if you want to play around with the Atmega.

Well, frankly I have no manufacturing experience. Everything I know about it is from reading other project stories. Also, I think there isn’t really a high demand for a product like this. The target group is sort of niche, because beginner makers would probably want to stick to the ThingShield, and advanced makers can go straight to designing their own PCBs using whatever components they want. So this is for the “in-between skill level” makers, or for prototyping of a production device.
Having said that, I may want to build 100 - 200 as a first batch - so we are not really talking numbers where quantities make a significant dink in costs.

I am currently exploring the option of using a non-programmable Digi Xbee surface mount module as a network processor, and an external MCU (like an Atmega328P or low-power STM32) for application code. This has the added benefit of making Arduino IDE integration much easier, because the network stack of the firmware doesn’t have to be compiled and flashed together with the application code.

What are your thoughts?

Have you looked at available ZigBee modules, like this one for example:

Making your own hardware can be fun and educational, no doubt about it, but considering time and cost, I don’t think you can beat $26 shipped.

My first prototypes are around that cost (not including assembly, granted) and have a richer feature set, as well as a smaller form factor that doesn’t require the annoying rubber ducky antenna.

The module you linked to doesn’t come with software of any kind, so chances are you still need an expensive compiler toolchain (Texas Instruments requires IAR) and potentially a programmer / debugger. There is an open-source compiler for 8051 based MCUs (like the CC2430) called SDCC, but I am not sure if it’s mature enough to compile Z-Stack, which is TI’s own ZigBee library. Up until recently it wasn’t able to produce good enough binaries, but SDCC is under active development, so chances are the situation is better now.

Also, the module you linked to doesn’t come with FCC certification or MAC address allocation, so I am left with the same problems as with my own prototype.

The head-start I would get from using a module such as the one you linked to is marginal.

The only off-the-shelve module that comes close to my requirement is Pinoccio. It just needs different firmware, but it also comes with a whole bunch of unnecessary (for this application) features, which significantly drive up the price.

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I wonder why bother with Zigbee if you can buy a WiFi module for $15 these days and connect directly to ST cloud. :smile:

Apparently, there’s OpenWRT port for this puppy.


@geko: Wifi is an option. I have a few SparkCores and they are a dream to integrate with SmartThings. Super easy.

The problem with wifi is that it’s not a great choice for low-powered sensor networks. There aren’t any wifi chips that come anywhere close to the low power consumption of a Zigbee radio. Even the new CC3100/CC3200 is still ways off. Wifi is also not a mesh network.


Have you guys ventured into looking at the Zigbee Module from MicroChip? Its called the mrf24j40. It becomes easy to program it with PIC micros.



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I am also interested in looking at your code, if you dont mind. I have been playimg with Cc2530 for some time but i am New to Smarthings…

@ashutosh1982 the MRF24J40 looks great! Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, it looks like Microchip’s Zigbee stack is an additional $1000 :frowning:

@VirTERM do you have a bitbucket handle I can add to the repository to share with you?

VirTERM .:wink:
I really appreciate it.

Yup its $995 , but if anyone is planning to build a product then its a one time investment. As long as we can make it work in a mesh environment and make it compatible with a platform like Smart Things.

Thanks for the post. This seems like what I’m hoping to do with the NXP module I’ve been playing with. I’m hoping to make a PCB based on what DIO’s or ADC’s I want to use, Relays, buttons, other sensors like temp/accel/piezo.

Quick question, have you figured out a good way to figure out what your Zigbee fingerprint looks like? I’ve been playing around with the NXP zigbee HA stack (free by the way!) and examples and I thought I knew what in and out clusters were being used but can never seem to get it to be auto recognized when I pair it. See my questions here.

Note that I was able to find these NXP modules for about $10 so even with a PCB and battery I was hoping to beat the $25 cost of the monoprice.com door sensor here.

The NXP module is the JN5168-001-M00.

I also started a thread here.


Thanks for sharing, that’s really cool. I have not dabbled in the whole fingerprint configuration, but noticed that it appears to match the in- out clusters I have set up on the firmware side.

I haven’t worked on this project in a while, because I am waiting for the Spark Photon to come out. It will be very difficult to beat the price, but all bets are still out on power consumption.

Hi Florian,
I also try to connect atmel bitcloud device to smartthings, The atmel HA device was able to join the smartthings network, but it didn’t show up on my phone. Can you please provide an example on how to connect to Smartthings and have it show up on my device list? Thanks!

Hi Florianz!
Any progress about your zboard?

Reviving an old thread here, since I can’t find any other progress or work that’s more recent. I’ve had success getting a cc2530 zigbee module to talk to smartthings. So far I can pair it, and blink an led, controlled by a device handler, from my phone. The good thing is, these things are small and just a few dollars!
The chip is very flexible and powerful, about like an arduino. I’m thinking it could be a thingshield replacement, and also could function on its own as a device doing simple things with the (16!) gpios and (8!) analog inputs.
Thoughts? Interested?

I know the forum is hard to search, but there is an existing project very similar to this which you will probably find interesting. There has been a lot of work done on it.

Separately, I think many people who were looking for a Thingshield replacement moved over to the ESP Wi-Fi options.


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Thanks for pointing me to that. I’ll reply on the first thread above and join that community.
It seems that other thread hasn’t made it easy to attach the zigbee board to an arduino, like thingshield.
The st_anything wifi solution is OK, but I think it’s great to have a zigbee solution too.


See here…

I left SmartThings several years ago but am still subscribed to this thread. Hopefully nobody minds if I pop in and give my $.02. :blush:

When I came over to openHAB, I wanted a way to replace the functionality of the ThingShield to connect an Arduino to openHAB. I settled on the use of MQTT to connect these devices. It’s an open protocol that is lightweight, reliable, and simple to use.

I use a WiFi shield to connect some devices via Ethernet, and used the Arduino-like Particle platform to connect wireless devices.

As SmartThings supports MQTT, this can be a great way to connect custom IoT devices to your home automation. Personally, I found MQTT much easier to figure out than the ThingShield. Plus, it’s future proof: if I ever leave openHAB I can control it with node-RED, home assistant, or anything else that supports MQTT.

Here’s my best example, a toddler busy board that controls the lights in the room:

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Hi everyone. Unfortunately, I am no longer developing this project: I hit a roadblock with not being able to get the RF circuit dialed in just right for range and connection stability. I lack the necessary hardware to measure the RF performance and the skills to optimize it.

Since I abandoned this project, a lot of really cheap hardware options have shown up, such as the one that @drandyhaas linked too, as well as the ESP8266 WIFI modules that are extremely popular now. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably focus on developing a SmartThings compatible software stack for one of those cheap, readily available hardware options. Folks a lot smarter than me have already figure out the hardware side of things and it would be great to build on their work instead.

There is also Wifi 6 to look forward to: In the past it was difficult to run Wifi sensor modules off a battery for months, which is relatively doable with Zigbee/ZWave. As far as I know, there is new hardware support for low-power IOT devices in Wifi 6, which has the potential of further tipping the market in favor of Wifi.