FYI, ITead announced on Facebook that their CC2652P based “Sonoff Zigbee 3.0 USB Dongle Plus” will be released soon and on paper it looks to be premium hardware that will be sold at a very low price.
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:
- Comes pre-flashing with firmware from 20210120 which works out-of-the-box with Zigbee2MQTT however still recommend upgrading to 20211217 or later which offer stronger transmission.
- OpenHAB ZigBee Binding has not yet been updated to support the newer Texas Instruments Z-Stack 3.0 API/CLI used by CC2652 (and CC1352) however there has been some work on it.
- To avoid EMF interference strongly recommended also buy → Long USB extension cable
- 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 opening 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
- Latest batch of dongles shipped from ITead can be auto-discovered by ZHA in Home Assistant 2022.1
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Home 1.2.x firmware and ZNP 1.2.x API that is now obsolete as it does not support Zigbee 3.0 and its firmware and SDK no longer maintained by TI).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.