UPDATED! The announced TI CC2652P based “Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus” from ITead, later renamed to “ZBDongle-P”, has been released and looks to be great value for a premium hardware package sold for a low price. It is based on Texas Instruments CC2652P radio chip and this “ZBDongle-P” variant is to be sold side-by-side as an alternative to their new “ZBDongle-E” variant that is based on Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 that SoC chips both practically have the same specifications on paper but uses different Zigbee stack firmware which will affect compatibility/support with different Zigbee gateway application implementations.
Sold at a very low price so assume ITead hope to make money on attach rate, so if you are new to Zigbee then recommend also buy some of their other Sonoff branded Zigbee devices as well:
I personally recommend Sonoff battery-operated Zigbee door/motions/temperature sensors and button. Suggest reading the articles by NotEnoughTECH if want independent reviews of those Sonoff sensors:
Also, I can personally recommend using a few of their USB adapters flashed as Zigbee Routers too.
- Price raised again, now from $14.99 to $19.99 in May 2022 due to increased components cost.
- Price raised from $10.99 to $14.99 in January 2022 due to increased components cost for all.
- First batch came pre-flashing with older firmware from 20210120 which works out-of-the-box with ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT, however, it is highly recommended to at least upgrade to firmware Z-Stack 3.x.0 build 20211217 or later
- Other than many bug-fixes the newer firmware offer +9dBm transmission power instead (instead of +5dBm transmission power) as well as the possibility to configure up to +20dBm transmission power via software settings in ZHA integration and Zigbee2MQTT respectively.
- To avoid EMF interference strongly recommended buy and use → Long USB extension cable
- Another reason for using a USB extension cable is that the USB-plug design of ITead’s Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus hardware adapter is a little short which makes it harder and sometimes impossible to plug it into some USB ports if the computer enclosure/chassis/casing is to thick around the USB-port as that will physically prevent the USB dongle from actually making a proper connection inside the USB port even if it looks like it is plugged in all the way that is possible.
- Also follow all the general tips in https://github.com/zigpy/zigpy/wiki/General-tips-on-improving-Zigbee-network-range as all Zigbee Coordinator adapters is very sensitive to EMI/RFI interference (e.g. a noisy radio frequency environment will jam the signal and prevent it from receiving all Zigbee messages to it without errors). Connecting the dongle via a long “shielded” USB extension cable in a USB 2.0 port or USB 2.0 hub (and not a USB 3.0 port) to get it away from EMF sources will usually help a lot if experiencing connection or pairing symptoms/issues.
- Win/Mac need Silabs drivers → CP210x USB to UART Bridge VCP Drivers - Silicon Labs
- ITead official FW flashing guide → SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB dongle plus firmware flashing
- Unofficial FW flashing without open case → https://github.com/JelmerT/cc2538-bsl/pull/114
- Dongle hardware can also be used as Zigbee router (a.k.a. repeater) → flash router firmware
New firmware for all popular CC2652 adapters is released relatively regularly by the community, and each release is based on latest upstream SDK from Texas Instruments and contains loads of bug-fixes.
Dongle firmware upgrade prerequisites key points are:
- Use a USB extension cable (due to USB plug on the dongle being very short it might not be fully inserted physically on some chassis/enclosures unless use USB extension cable with longer plug).
- Install official CP210x USB to UART Bridge VCP Drivers from Silicon Labs if using Windows or Mac → https://www.silabs.com/developers/usb-to-uart-bridge-vcp-drivers
- Get either the correct firmware image with name “CC1352P2_CC2652P_launchpad_.zip*” for Zigbee Coordinator → https://github.com/Koenkk/Z-Stack-firmware/tree/master/coordinator/Z-Stack_3.x.0/bin or alternatively get the correct firmware image with name “CC1352P2_CC2652P_launchpad_.zip*” for Zigbee Router → https://github.com/Koenkk/Z-Stack-firmware/tree/master/router/Z-Stack_3.x.0/bin
Adapters based on CC1352 or CC2652 chips can be flashed by putting them in the bootloader. After you have done this one of the following tools can be used to flash it. See your adapter manual on how to enable bootloader (boot mode) manually or use software that support automatic BSL mode for it.
Upgrade firmware with one of these (ZigStar GW Multi tool and cc2538-bsl support auto BSL):
- cc2538-bsl (open source multi platform Python based command line tool with auto-BSL trigger).
- llama-bslopen in new window (multi platform Python based CLI tool, a fork of cc2538-bsl).
- ZigStar GW Multi Tool (multi platform portable GUI tool).
- FLASH PROGRAMMER 2 by Texas Instrumens (Windows installer only, with auto-BSL trigger).
|Radio SoC/MCU chip||Texas Instruments CC2652P||Silicon Labs EFR32MG21||Silicon Labs EFR32MG21|
|Zigbee Stack (Serial Interface Protocol API/CLI)||Z-Stack v3 (ZNP 3)||EmberZNet (EZSP v8)||EmberZNet (EZSP v8)|
|Optional Zigbee Router firmware||Yes (9dBm firmware available from Koenkk)||Yes (20dBm firmware available from ITead)||Yes (20dBm firmware available from ITead)|
|USB to UART/Serial Converter Chip||CP2102 or CP2102N||CH9102F||CH340|
|USB EEPROM Product Description ID||SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus||SONOFF Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus V2||None (no USB chip EEPROM)|
|Home Assistant USB Auto Disovery||Yes||Not yet||Not possible|
|Flow Control||None by default (Hardware flow control optional with alternative firmware and flipped dip-switch）||Software flow control||Software flow control|
|RF Transmit Output Power||9dBm (firmware hardcoded), Max: 20dBm||20dBm (default)||20dBm (default)|
|Antenna||External (rotatable and tiltable)||External (rotatable and tiltable)||Onboard circuit board antenna|
|Enclosure/case||Aluminum all-metal shell casing||Aluminum all-metal shell casing||None|
|Packaging||Retail-box with manual||Retail-box with manual||Anti-static bag only|
|Home Assistant ZHA||Supported||Supported||Supported|
|Zigbee2MQTT||Supported||Currently in development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see https://github.com/Koenkk/zigbee-herdsman/issues/319||In development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see https://github.com/Koenkk/zigbee-herdsman/issues/319|
|IoBroker||Supported||Currently in development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see https://github.com/Koenkk/zigbee-herdsman/issues/319||In development by zigbee-herdsman dev, see https://github.com/Koenkk/zigbee-herdsman/issues/319|
|OpenHAB ZigBee Binding||Not yet, see request and discussion||Supported||Supported|
|Domoticz Zigbee Plugin||Supported||Supported||Supported|
|Jeedom Zigbee Plugin||Supported||Supported||Supported|
Texas Instruments (TI) CC2652P Zigbee radio chip in this dongle uses TI’s Z-Stack 3.x firmware and ZNP 3.x API which is supported by Zigbee2MQTT (for Zigbee to MQTT in openHAB) but not yet supported by the native openHAB ZigBee Binding (which currently only support TI’s older CC2530/CC2531 chips with Z-Stack Home 1.2.x firmware and ZNP 1.2.x API that is now obsolete as it does not support Zigbee 3.0 and its firmware and SDK no longer maintained by TI).
Texas Instruments CC2652P is together with the competing Silicon Labs EFRMG21 chips at this time the most capable and most powerful multi-protocol MCU with 2.4 GHz radios on the market. CC2652P radio chip is currently also the most popular as a Zigbee Coordinator and Zigbee Router in the DIY Zigbee userbase community because it is newer so the firmware is well maintained and is stable/mature in both Zigbee2MQTT and the built-in ZHA integration for Home Assistant. Just like Silabs EFRMG21, TI’s CC2652P feature an integrated Power Amplifier that is technically capable of +20 dBM amplification (though legally the firmware is probably not allowed to be configured to use more than +10 dBM amplification).
According to their marketing material, it will come pre-flashed with Texas Instruments Z-Stack 3.x.0 coordinator firmware and it should work out-of-the-box with either Zigbee2MQTT (which uses zigbee-herdsman so will probably work with IoBroker too) and Home Assistant ZHA integration (which uses zigpy so will probably work with Jeedom too), but is will however not yet work with OpenHAB’s Zigbee-Binding since the zstack driver for zsmartsystems’s com.zsmartsystems.zigbee library which it relies on does not yet support the new/updated TI Z-Stack 3 (Z-Stack 3.0.x and Z-Stack 3.x.x) serial API commands:
Interested developers should note cdjackson did start work on initial Z-Stack 3 driver 2-years ago here:
In addition, ITead specifically mentions that this TI dongle can alternatively function as a Zigbee router (presumably by flashing Zigbee router firmware instead and open access buttons as pressing a button to enable pairing/joining mode is usually required).
I also read that this time they have also added proper electromagnetic shielding to the radio chip and antenna parts onboard the board itself, meaning they must have learned from some of their design flaws in regards to electromagnetic interference and radio signal reception.
It is based on Texas Instruments CC2652P (CC2652 with integrated +20 dBm amplifier) Zigbee radio and features a metal casing + an SMA connector with an external antenna. It looks a little on the large side for USB 2.0 Type-A but still recommend using a USB extension cable.
Interestingly it uses a Silabs CP2102N UART-to-USB chip so wonder if it will have unique ITead VID and/or PID strings specific for this adapter so could be added via automatic USB discovery, like in HA:
PS: I understand ITead went with CC2652P instead of Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 for this “Plus” dongle version because of the current silicon chip shortage (which Silabs parts suffered for more than most).
Hopefully, we will also see ITead release a new fixed revision of their cheaper Zigbee 3.0 USB dongle with proper RF shielding and either corrected PCB antenna design or better yet a ceramic chip antenna.
As we know, ITead’s previous ‘non-Plus Zigbee 3.0 USB dongle’ is/was based on Silabs EFR32MG21 SoC which has just as powerful MCU and radio, but sadly was proven that implementation in ITead’s first Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle PCB board revision had a badly designed integrated PCB antenna with poor tuning and no electromagnetic shielding which caused huge issues in radio reception, and to this date, it has been listed as “out-of-stock” since after the initial batch was sold out. Again, very sad since that could also have been a great Zigbee Coordinator adapter if it had been properly engineered. Hopefully, they will decide to take another stab and redesign that as a new product after the chip shortages as it would be great if they could also offer a Silabs EFR32 based alternative for extended compatibility.