ITEAD is known for its Sonoff home automation products that started with ESP8266 WiFi and/or RF connectivity several years ago, but more recently the company started to offer Zigbee compliant products including Sonoff BASICZBR3 smart switch, Sonoff ZBBridge WiFi to Zigbee Gateway, or a cheap $4 CC2531 Zigbee USB Dongle compatible with Zigbee2MQTT open-source firmware.
The company has now launched a more powered Zigbee 3.0 USB dongle, yet still affordable at $6.99, based on the same Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 wireless MCU as used in the Sonoff ZBBridge with a faster core, more RAM, and a more powerful radio.
Key features and specifications:
- Wireless MCU – Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 Arm Cortex-M33 microcontroller @ up to 80 MHz with DSP and FPU, up to 1024 kB flash, up to 96 kB RAM, 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.15.4 for Zigbee or Thread
- Host interface – USB port
- Expansion – 7-pin IO header with programming pins, one GPIO, 3.3V and GND; 2-pin header for Tx/Rx serial port
- Misc – Button and reset buttons, LED, PCB antenna
- Power Supply – 5V via USB port, LDO chip
- Dimensions – 56 x 14 mm
- Weight – 5 grams
The Zigbee 3.0 to USB adapter is meant to be used in DIY home automation setups often based on Raspberry Pi running open-source software such as Home Assistant or OpenHAB, both of which work out of the box with the dongle, and can be used to control Sonoff Zigbee modules (smart switch, smart plug, temperature and humidity sensor, motion sensor. door/window sensor, etc…)
ITead also said that it will be shipped with non-signed standard Silabs application firmware without debug lock based on EmberZNet 6.7.8 SDK with the standard EZSP v8 interface as well as the standard Gecko bootloader.
The standard EZSP v8 interface means that it will be compatible out-of-the-box with the native ZHAintegration in Home Assistant, OpenHAB Zigbee Bindings, Jeedom new Zigbee Plugin (Beta stage support), and Zigbee2MQTT development branch (pre-alpha stage support), while the standard Gecko bootloader will enable firmware updates, downgrades, as well as custom compiled firmware.
Thanks to Andreas for the tip.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
5 Replies to “$7 ITEAD Zigbee 3.0 USB dongle features Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 MCU”
I heard a while ago they also planned a version with external antenna. Is it still the case?
They said it will depend on market demand. You should send them an e-mail suggesting this so that they know people want an SMA-connector and external antenna as a feature regardless of the existing strength and quality on the onboard circuit-boar antenna is very good or not. I have already sent them an e-mail suggesting that the make a “Pro” version with that, and I also suggested that they make a “Deluxe” version with a nice professionally injection-moulded plastic encosure.
You’re right, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll do just that.
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:
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.
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.
Sounds as if a lot of Home Assistant users have two different problems with this dongle/stick, as first many have issues even getting the ZHA integration to even talk to the Zigbee chip that the dongle uses, and then once they get over that hurdle many people are reporting problems searching for and paring Zigbee devices as if it is having trouble transmitting or receiving radio signals, so people are now suspecting antenna design issue or hardware manufacturing faults: