Connected Home Solutions with ZigBee and Thread-Ready Connectivity

Silicon Labs recently introduced a series of comprehensive reference designs that reduce time to market and simplify the development of ZigBee-based home automation, connected lighting and smart gateway products. The first in a series of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, the new reference designs include hardware, firmware, and software tools for developing high-quality connected home solutions based on Silicon Labs’s ZigBee “Golden Unit” Home Automation (HA 1.2) software stack and ZigBee SoC mesh networking technology.SiliconLabs IoT-SolutionsSilicon Labs’ ZigBee connected lighting reference designs feature wireless lighting boards and a plug-in demo board. The Golden Unit ZigBee stack allows LED lights to reliably join, interoperate, and leave a mesh network. The connected lights can support white, color temperature tuning, and RGB color settings as well as dimming.

Silicon Labs’ ZigBee-based home automation reference designs include a capacitive-sense dimmable light switch and a small door/window contact sensor. The light switch provides color, color tuning, and dimming control capabilities. As opposed to conventional switches, the wireless, battery-powered switches have no moving parts and are easy to place anywhere in a home. The switch design includes Silicon Labs’s EFM8 capacitive sensing microcontroller to detect different user gestures (touch, hold, and swipe). The contact sensor reference design provides all the tools needed to create wireless, battery-powered sensors used to monitor door and window positions (open or closed).

Silicon Labs offers two ZigBee gateway options to complement the reference designs:

  • A plug-and-play USB virtual gateway that works with any PC development platform and supports the Windows, OS X, and Linux environments as a virtual machine
  • An out-of-the-box Wi-Fi/Ethernet gateway reference design based on an embedded Linux computer system

Both gateway options enable you to control and monitor ZigBee HA 1.2-compliant end nodes through Wi-Fi with any device with a web browser, such as a smartphone or tablet. With an intuitive, web-based user interface, you can easily create rules between ZigBee end devices including lights, dimmable light switches, and contact sensors.

Silicon Labs’ connected lighting, home automation, and smart gateway reference designs are currently available. The RD-0020-0601 and RD-0035-0601 connected lighting reference designs cost $49. The RD-0030-0201 contact sensor reference design is $39. The RD-0039-0201 capacitive-sense dimmable light switch reference design is $29. The USB virtual gateway is $49. The out-of-the-box Wi-Fi/Ethernet gateway reference design is $149.

Source: Silicon Labs 

Reference Design Addresses Demand for Voice Control

Silicon Labs recently released a new, cost-effective solution for voice-enabled ZigBee remote controls. The ZigBee Remote Control (ZRC) reference design reduces the need for expensive external hardware by implementing a software-based audio codec into a single-chip wireless SoC. It includes all of the hardware and software necessary for developing full-featured, voice-enabled remote controls.SiLabs Zigbee

The ZRC reference design is based on Silicon Labs EM34x wireless SoCs and ZRC 2.0 Golden Unit-certified software stack, which provides an industry-standard way to implement interoperable, low-power RF remote controls. The reference design includes complete RF layout and design files, an acceleration sensor for backlight control, a buzzer for “find me” capabilities, support for IR control, a digital microphone, and the ability to transmit voice commands over RF.

Silicon Labs offers two development kits the voice-enabled reference design. The  $249 EM34X-VREVK Voice Remote Evaluation Kit features preprogrammed devices and a simple GUI to demonstrate remote control capabilities, including RF, voice commands, and legacy IR support. The $399 EM34X-VRDK Voice Remote Development Kit provides you with an “out-of-the-box” design experience. It simplifies development of the remote control and target devices, and it comes with an EM34x voice-enabled remote control, USB stick, EM34x development board, EM34x wireless modules, and ISA3 debug adapter.

Samples and volume quantities of Silicon Labs’s EM34x SoCs are available with prices starting at $1.68 in 10,000-unit quantities.

Source: Silicon Labs

GP691 ZigBee Radio Chip and GPM6000 Modules for IoT

At CES 2015, GreenPeak Technologies announced a new GP691 ZigBee communication controller chip and GPM6000 integrated ZigBee modules for Internet of Things applications and smart home devices.IoTGreenPeak

The GP691 ZigBee communications controller provides IEEE Standard 802.15.4-compliant robust spread spectrum data communication in the worldwide 2.4-GHz band. It can run the full stack and application for ZigBee applications, including ZHA and ZLL profiles. In addition to a radio transceiver, the GP691 comprises a real-time Medium Access Control (MAC) processor, microcontroller, security engine, 16-KB RAM, and 248-KB flash memory. The GP691 is over the air upgradable and includes support for new 802.15.4-based standards upon availability, such as Thread.

ZigBee 3.0 supports a wide range of applications (e.g., home, industrial automation, and smart energy). IEEE 802.15.4-compliant, it can cover a complete home with multiple floors. Plus, it can manage dead spots and Wi-Fi interference via mesh networking. ZigBee 3.0 also supports large networks comprising thousands of devices, which also makes it suitable for industrial applications and building automation. ZigBee 3.0 also includes Green Power, part of the ZHA and ZLL profiles, which supports energy harvesting and battery-free applications. Without requiring batteries, these self-supporting devices typically generate (harvest) just enough power to transmit a brief command to the network via ZigBee.

With its partner Universal Scientific Industrial (Shanghai) Co, Ltd (USI), GreenPeak developed “an integrated module for the GP691 that reduces product design company’s time to market without having to solve RF product integration challenges or to worry about international wireless certification.”

The 25 x 17 x 2.5 mm pre-integrated, pre-certified module adds a power stage/LNA providing up to 20-dBm output power, special transmit and receive circuitry, and an integrated antenna plus a connector for a second external antenna enabling antenna diversity configurations, which all together, allow for greater range and robustness, providing coverage throughout an entire home. This module will be offered as the first in the GPM6000 module series optimized for smart home solutions.

Source: GreenPeak

ZigBee PRO Communication Controller Chip


The GP490 controller chip

The GP490 is an ultra-low-power ZigBee PRO communication controller. It supports the ZigBee PRO chip features, including bidirectional commissioning, bidirectional communication, and full security mode.

The controller is specifically designed for low-power smart home applications including door, window, and temperature sensors and light switches. Equipped with the energy-optimized GP490, these low-power, low-data rate smart home applications can operate on a coin cell battery for more than 10 years.

The GP490 development kit with reference design and software can help device manufacturers build low-cost, low-power sensor nodes, optimized for standard battery and coin-cell battery operation. Guidelines and tools are provided to ensure an efficient ZigBee certification for a cost-optimized feature set of the ZigBee Home Automation (HA 1.2) Application Profile.

The low-cost GP490 enables developers and manufacturers to supply ZigBee Smart Home sensor solutions starting at $5 each. Contact GreenPeak Technologies for specific pricing.

GreenPeak Technologies

New Products: July 2013



The USBee QX is a PC-based mixed-signal oscilloscope (MSO) integrated with a protocol analyzer utilizing USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi technology. The highly integrated, 600-MHz MSO features 24 digital channels and four analog channels.

With its large 896-Msample buffer memory and data compression capability, the USBeeQX can capture up to 32 days of traces. It displays serial or parallel protocols in a human-readable format, enabling developers to find and resolve obscure and difficult defects. The MOS includes popular serial protocols (e.g., RS-232/UARTs, SPI, I2C, CAN, SDIO, Async, 1-Wire, and I2S), which are typically costly add-ons for benchtop oscilloscopes. The MOS utilizes APIs and Tool Builders that are integrated into the USBee QX software to support any custom protocol.

The USBee QX’s Wi-Fi capability enables you set up testing in the lab while you are at your desk. The Wi-Fi capability also creates electrical isolation of the device under test to the host computer.

The USBee QX costs $2,495.

CWAV, Inc.


DownStream Technologies FabStream


FabStream is an integrated PCB design and manufacturing solution designed for the DIY electronics market, including small businesses, start-ups, engineers, inventors, hobbyists, and other electronic enthusiasts. FabStream consists of free SoloPCB Design software customized to each manufacturing partner in the FabStream network.

The FabStream service works in three easy steps. First, you log onto the FabStream website (, select a FabStream manufacturing partner, and download the free design software. Next, you create PCB libraries, schematics, and board layouts. Finally, the software leads you through the process of ordering PCBs online with the manufacturer. You only pay for the PCBs you purchase. Because the service is mostly Internet-based, FabStream can be accessed globally and is available 24/7/365.

FabStream’s free SoloPCB Design software includes a commercial-quality schematic capture, PCB layout, and autorouting in one, easy-to-use environment. The software is customized to each manufacturing partner. All of the manufacturer’s production capabilities are built into SoloPCB, enabling you to work within the manufacturers’ constraints. Design changes can be made and then verified through an integrated analyzer that uses a quick pass/fail check to compare the modification to the manufacturer’s rules.

SoloPCB does not contain any CAM outputs. Instead, a secure, industry-standard IPC-2581 manufacturing file is automatically extracted, encrypted, and electronically routed to the manufacturer during the ordering process. The IPC-2581 file contains all the design information needed for manufacturing, which eliminates the need to create Gerber and NC drill files.

FabStream is available as a free download. More information can be found at

DownStream Technologies, LLC


Rohde Schwarz SMW200A


The R&S SMW200A high-performance vector signal generator combines flexibility, performance, and intuitive operation to quickly and easily generate complex, high-quality signals for LTE Advanced and next-generation mobile standards. The generator is designed to simpify complex 4G device testing.

With its versatile configuration options, the R&S SMW200A’s range of applications extends from single-path vector signal generation to multichannel multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) receiver testing. The vector signal generator provides a baseband generator, a RF generator, and a real-time MIMO fading simulator in a single instrument.

The R&S SMW200A covers the100 kHz-to-3-GHz, or 6 GHz, frequency range, and features a 160-MHz I/Q modulation bandwidth with internal baseband. The generator is well suited for verification of 3G and 4G base stations and aerospace and defense applications.

The R&S SMW200A can be equipped with an optional second RF path for frequencies up to 6 GHz. It can have a a maximum of two baseband and four fading simulator modules, providing users with two full-featured vector signal generators in a single unit. Fading scenarios, such as 2 × 2 MIMO, 8 × 2 MIMO for TD-LTE, and 2 × 2 MIMO for LTE Advanced carrier aggregation, can be easily simulated.

Higher-order MIMO applications (e.g., 3 × 3 MIMO for WLAN or 4 × 4 MIMO for LTE-FDD) are easily supported by connecting a third and fourth source to the R&S SMW200A. The R&S SGS100A are highly compact RF sources that are controlled directly from the front panel of the R&S SMW200A.

The R&S SMW200A ensures high accuracy in spectral and modulation measurements. The SSB phase noise is –139 dBc (typical) at 1 GHz (20 kHz offset). Help functions are provided for additional ease-of-use, and presets are provided for all important digital standards and fading scenarios. LTE and UMTS test case wizards simplify complex base station conformance testing in line with the 3GPP specification.

Contact Rohde & Schwarz for pricing.

Rohde & Schwarz


Texas Instruments CC2538


The Texas Instruments (TI) CC2538 system-on-chip (SoC) is designed to simplify the development of ZigBee wireless connectivity-enabled smart energy infrastructure, home and building automation, and intelligent lighting gateways. The cost-efficient SoC features an ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller, memory, and hardware accelerators on one piece of silicon. The CC2538 supports ZigBee PRO, ZigBee Smart Energy and ZigBee Home Automation and lighting standards to deliver interoperability with existing and future ZigBee products. The SoC also uses IEEE 802.15.4 and 6LoWPAN IPv6 networks to support IP standards-based development.

The CC2538 is capable of supporting fast digital management and features scalable memory options from 128 to 512 KB flash to support smart energy infrastructure applications. The SoC sustains a mesh network with hundreds of end nodes using integrated 8-to-32-KB RAM options that are pin-for-pin compatible for maximum flexibility.

The CC2538’s additional benefits include temperature operation up to 125°C, optimization for battery-powered applications using only 1.3 uA in Sleep mode, and efficient processing for centralized networks and reduced bill of materials cost through integrated ARM Cortex-M3 core.

The CC2538 development kit (CC2538DK) provides a complete development platform for the CC2538, enabling users to see all functionality without additional layout. It comes with high-performance CC2538 evaluation modules (CC2538EMK) and motherboards with an integrated ARM Cortex-M3 debug probe for software development and peripherals including an LCD, buttons, LEDs, light sensor and accelerometer for creating demo software. The boards are also compatible with TI’s SmartRF Studio for running RF performance tests. The CC2538 supports current and future Z-Stack releases from TI and over-the-air software downloads for easier upgrades in the field.

The CC2538 is available in an 8-mm x 8-mm QFN56 package and costs $3 in high volumes. The CC2538 is also available through TI’s free sample program. The CC2538DK costs $299.

Texas Instruments, Inc.