Home Assistant launches SkyConnect USB stick with Zigbee, Thread, Matter support

The Home Assistant SkyConnect is a USB stick with support for Zigbee, Matter, and Thread connectivity designed to work with the popular Home Assistant open-source home automation solution, and enables users to bring Home Assistant Yellow (previously known as Home Assistant Amber) functionality to any platform running Home Assistant.

The USB dongle is based on a Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 Gecko Series 2 Arm Cortex-M33 wireless microcontroller with an 802.15.4 multi-protocol 2.4 GHz radio that can concurrently run both Zigbee 3.0 (EmberZNet/EZSP) and Thread/Matter (OpenThread/Spinel) stacks/protocols at the same time by using firmware in RCP RCP (Radio Co-Processor) mode.

Home Assistant SkyConnect

Home Assistant SkyConnect specifications:

  • MCU – Silabs 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 radio
  • Wireless
    • Protocols – Zigbee, Matter, Thread
    • TX Power – up to +20dBm
    • RX sensitivity – -104dBm (250kbps)
    • 2.4 GHz PCB antenna
    • Stack – EmberZNet Serial Protocol (EZSP)
  • USB – USB 2.0 Type-A male up to 12 Mbps
  • Bridge – Silabs CP2102N USB to UART chip
  • Power Supply – 5V DC / up to 150mA
  • Dimensions – 38.5 x 18 x 4.5mm
  • Weight – 4 grams

The SkyConnect dongle supports Over-The-Wire (OTW) firmware updates, which will notably enable Matter support in November since at launch only Zigbee and Thread are supported. The USB stick will ship with a 50cm extension cable because the “USB 3.0 ports (the ones with blue on the inside) are known to cause significant noise and radio interference to any 2.4Ghz wireless devices”.

The Home Assistant SkyConnect USB stick is up for pre-order for $29.99 on Seeed Studio, Ameridroid, and several European distributors that you can find on the product page. The first batch is supposed to ship in November or December. The price tag is higher than for the Sonoff ZBDongle-E ($19.90) based on the same EFR32MG21 microcontroller, but the official dongle is quite smaller and I suppose you’d sponsor the open-source project that way.

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13 Comments
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Hedda
Hedda
1 month ago

Matter/CHIP is handled at the application layer (e.i. Home Assistant core integrations or its addons running on the host computer) and not on in the network stacks running in the firmware on this adapter. So this adapter does enable the application to use a Matter/CHIP over a Thread network but that does not make this a Matter/CHIP device itself. Instead, it will run just be a standard OpenThread Border Router. See -> https://community.home-assistant.io/t/home-assistant-skyconnect-usb-stick-announced-will-be-compatible-with-both-zigbee-and-thread-including-matter-chip-over-thread/433594/

Hedda
Hedda
1 month ago

A tip is that all Zigbee and Thread users should follow these best practices -> https://github.com/zigpy/zigpy/wiki/Generic-best-practice-tips-on-improving-Zigbee-network-range-and-general-stability

NewNews?
1 month ago

Turns out Z*-Technology is a PITA for “bigger” networks. I moved away from all that devices over to wifi (and ethernet) only (esphome nodes) which a working a treat with over 100 devices with the “normal” house wifi infrastructure (1 Router and 2 Repeaters).
Besides deploying and updating/upgrading is a treat and other than all this Z*-Stuff I came across it is uniform to setup and super stable.

ginandbacon
ginandbacon
1 month ago

Not only that but it’s region locked which 8s why it doesn’t come on the HA yellow board. I agree, ESPHome is the way to go. Flashing over WiFi or USB is super easy and I can’t see how they could possibly make it more user friendly. No soldiering required, at least for most devices. I also don’t know anyone that actually uses it 8n HA. There are several reasons we did not include Z-Wave on the mainboard itself. For example, each region of the world requires a different Z-Wave antenna and the regulatory approval for a board with one… Read more »

Hedda
Hedda
1 month ago

I think you are mixing up Zigbee and Z-Wave. Zigbee and Thread is 2.4GHz worldwide, same as
WiFi.

Only Z-Wave have region frequecies but newer devices with Z-Wave 700/800 chips can change frequency so devices can be global.

ginandbacon
ginandbacon
1 month ago

I was replying to NewNews on why I don’t use Z-Wave personally. The reason I mentioned is it’s straight from Home Assistants crowdfund page for the HA yellow. I have been also been ordering cheap Chinese bulbs pre flashed with ESPHome and I’m trying to move everything to direct Wifi or ZigBee with a few BLE devices. Until I see if thread/matter is really the future I’m waiting although I did preeorder the SkyConnect because it’s a great price.. I have seen other standards backed by multiple big companies fail very badly like DiVX. DIVX was a rental format variation… Read more »

Hedda
Hedda
1 month ago

Small Zigbee network is a PITA but a larger network is easier because it has more router devices. Zigbee OTA updates is however also not good if buy chinese devices because almost none get updates.

Z-Wave devices have better range and and its more expensive devices do get updates so is actually more user freindly as you what you pay for.

But I think that multiple border routers and easier updates is what Matter/CHIP over Thread is meant to solve in the future.

NewNews?
1 month ago

The price was also a good reason for me to move completely away from that Z-* and go all in for esphome based devices which often only cost 1/3 (or less) than comparable Z-* devices.

Updates/Upgrades are guaranteed (for now monthly updates) on esphome – for all my Z-* devices I think I never got any update/upgrade (different brands) I was aware of – but it is also not clear how to apply them (every manufacture often got it’s own way) -> a real No-Go!

Baylf2000
Baylf2000
3 days ago

Sure, it’s all fantastic until your internet goes down, or the manufacturer of your wifi devices shuts down, which has happened before. Wifi is definitely not the answer.

John Walshaw
John Walshaw
1 month ago

“the USB stick will ship with a 50cm extension cable because the “USB 3.0 ports (the ones with blue on the inside) are known to cause significant noise and radio interference to any 2.4Ghz wireless devices”.

Are we sure about this RF interference scenario? Is it specific to a unique motherboard or chip? Is this universal for all blue USB A 3.0 ports, spanking all devices ever made? The implications are massive if all those 2.4Ghz keyboards are effected by this.

John Walshaw
John Walshaw
1 month ago

Very interesting indeed. This is a topic I’m interested to learn more about.

BTW, my auto correct evidenced some comical, self awareness, on the provious post, and should have read “spanning” LOL

Ignas Kiela
Ignas Kiela
1 month ago

USB 3.x is 5 or 10Gig, both of which are close to multiples of 2.4Ghz, so there is a decent chance of interference. Can be improved by device makers, but their main goal is to not go over the same limits that common transmitters have to abide to, so it’s usually not a big focus for them, so you get devices that radiate a bunch of interference.

It’s fairly well known too, Intel investigated this in 2012 https://www.usb.org/sites/default/files/327216.pdf

Weller PCB manufacturer