Best most powerful zigbee stick?

Hi,

This is a continuation of this thread Best framework for long range setup , but I have made it a new topic as the selection of stock qualifies for a new discussion.

I have been looking at zigbee sticks - the Zigbee2MQTT page lists some compatible sticks, that also seem to compatible with most of the other software solutions (deconz, ZHA) : https://www.zigbee2mqtt.io/information/supported_adapters.html

For my setup I am looking for a stick that will be connected to a rpi 4. I am looking for the most powerful stick in terms of range, both transmitting-wise, but also receiving-wise. Most of my devices will be battery powered sensors that will be places approx 30 - 40m away from the zigbee hub. I know that I will probably need some mains powered devices to act as repeaters, but if that can be avoided, it would be good.

From what I can tell, range-wise the CC2538 + CC2592 - Zigbee dongle , the zzh! CC2652R Multiprotocol RF Stick and the CC2652RB development stick might all be good choices for a long-range setup. The latter two seems to be multi-protocol and not just zigbee. But I am a bit unsure if the CC2592 amplifier would be the most powerful option - or if one of the other sticks would be better?

Do you have any insight into what would be the most powerful option both transmitting and receiving wise?

Also I am a bit confused about flashing - I would prefer a stick that does not need additional hardware to flash, as I guess you will eventually need to flash the hardware to provide support for new devices or updates to the zigbee protocol?

Does anybody have some insight into this?

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I use the Conbee II with a usb 2.0 extension cord. Works great with zigbee2mqtt and has very strong range. But I don’t know if it (if any) has a range of 30-40 meters.

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@pmayer distributes a long range module for GPIO

But: Since Zigbee is a meshed network, you should consider density over distance. A „smart plug“ somewhere in between will probably be the most convenient method to extend range.

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I would stay away from the CC2538 + CC2592, it is not as powerful as the others. The Conbee II is a good choice too.

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Thanks for all replies!

Thanks. I’m not sure either. But I was thinking that going with the most powerful stick would be a good start.

From what I see this module also uses the 2592 chip. Why would that be better to use than the USB stick mentioned in the original post? I’ve read that some devices can cause noise to the signal, and hence it is recommended to connect the USB stick through an extension cable. I wonder if such a board would cause problems.

Do you have something to back that up? The guy in the link says that it is the post powerful PA available (?):

  • Range is as wide as possible using the most powerful PA available (CC2592)

Do you have any data comparing it to the Cpnbee stick?

Also, did you read the info on here: Supported adapters | zigbee2mqtt.io?

Shows the differences with the most popular sticks.

The CC2538 is, together with the CC2530 and CC2531, still the first generation of Zigbee chips from TI. The CC26xx and CC1352 are the second generation. Check TI website.

Yes, I was facing this issue when using a Raspbee II module and a USB 3.x pen drive. It is not directly related to on-board modules, but affects any 2,4GHz network device. See Intel’s paper for more.

So, I dumped the USB 3.1 pen drive in favour of a fast SD card. I prefer the compact and clean look of my setup over high-speed data transfer via USB.

If you don’t stick to a stick :slight_smile: you might consider using a Sonoff ZBBridge that you can place wherever you want or it has the best coverage for your devices. I have not measured it but having its own power adapter might also be able to get more power thus having relatively longer range.

Hi ASNNetworks,
Yes, thanks for the link. This was the information that I picked out the three sticks in the original post as possible good alternatives from. The comparison is good, however, lacking technical facts to help decide between sticks.

Hi Francis,
Thanks for the information!
I have done some reading and conclude the following:

The CC1352R:
Support for Sub-1 GHz + Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Thread concurrency with the lowest power multi-band wireless MCU.

The CC1352P:
Support for Sub-1 GHz + Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Thread concurrency with an integrated 20dBm PA enabling longer range. Recieving sensitivity: -100dBm.

The CC2652R:
Lowest power Zigbee platform with all the benefits of Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy, and Thread multi-standard operation. Recieving sensitivity: -100dBm.

The CC2530 and the the CC2531: as far as I can tell, the only difference is that the CC2531 has build in usb-control chip whereas the CC2530 has not. Recieving sensitivity: -97dBm.

From what I can tell, the newer chipsets - CC2652 and CC1352 - are only available as development boards: https://www.zigbee2mqtt.io/information/supported_adapters.html

I do not have the technical insight to read further into datasheets, but to me it seems like the only practical difference the newer chips have over the old 2530/2531 chips is that they are multi-platform? The zigbee RX sensitivity seems to be equal, and with the C2538 PA chip mounted, TX sensitivity also seems to be equal (20dBm). Is there anything I am missing?

Hi Christoph,
Thanks for the reply.
Interesting that it also occurs when using pin drives. Did you try with an extension cable to see if it solved it?

Hi Atticus,
Thanks for the reply.
I would rather go for a custom stick so that I am not dependent on any vendors :-).
Do you know what chip it uses?

According to [1] the Sonoff ZBBridge uses Silicon Labs EmberZNet based radio.

[1] https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/zha/

I recently moved my whole network over from conbee2 with deconz to a CC2652P (ZigStar / ZigBeeStick v4) with ZHA since I had some battery-powered devices falling out off the network from time to time. In between I had some short experiments with the CC2652R (zig-a-zig-ah / zzh!) moving over a few devices but I was quite underwhelmed with it. Reception was way worse than with conbee2 and overall stability as well.

Now I am not yet quite back to the reliability level of deconz with the CC2652P on ZHA but that could be cause I broke my long USB extension somewhere in the process so cannot really rule out WiFI / USB-3 interference until the new one has arrived.

Thanks, I will have a look into this.

Thanks a lot for sharing your hands-on experience! I can see that I missed the CC2652P in my comparison above, but it seems that it is identical with the CC1352P except that is does not have the 1ghz band. I guess that is of no concern when using zigbee.

I have not heard of the ZigStar stick, it is not listed on the zigbee2mqtt page, but I guess it is because it is not yet compatible. I plan on trying ZHA, so it is not a problem anyway. Where did you get it (just did a quick Google and found a BOM, do you have to make it yourself)?

It would be really interesting to hear your experience once your extension cable arrives.

The amount of RAM on the new devices is tenfold that of the CC253X. One of the biggest issues with the latter is the limited amount of directly connected devices (about 20).

Yeah, I randomly stumbled upon the ZigStar since someone in Germany was apparently selling a bunch fully-assembled on the IOBroker forums (I guess you should find it searching CC2652P there). It is actually compatible with Zigbee2MQTT but you need a firmware from the development branch (same as for ZHA). Here are the schematics: https://mercenaruss.github.io/zigbee-stick-v4/

I actually wonder why it is not listed n the Z2M page. It would have saved me buying the zzh! in the first place.

I have a LAUNCHXL-CC26X2R1 and using it with zigbee2mqtt and that is working very well for me.

Before that i had the standard CC2531 and it was very frustating. My House has really dampening walls and ceilings. With the 2531 getting through one ceilling (even with stairs 3 meters away) resulted in barely a signal. Another problem was that i have too many devices (but that is a totally different issue)

I replaced the 2531 with a CC26X2R1 as soon as possible and that was a huge boost. Range is much greater and also the zigbee network isn´t so laggy anymore.

Now i see that there are even more supported routers for zigbee2mqtt and maybe some other router is even better.

But as already mentioned one of the most importing thing with zigbee is to build a nice mesh network ( == having enough powered devices). This leads to “it just works”

Thanks - very good point.

Thanks - found it. I think that will be the best option so far to try it out.
Regarding ZZH!, they state on their website that they have work-in-progress on a version using the CC2652P chip (ZZH-P), however, they do not tell when it is available: https://electrolama.com/projects/zig-a-zig-ah/

Thanks for the reply.
Very nice to hear that the CC26x2R1 solved some problems and increased range. I guess that we could then expect even more of the CC2652P.

Just for an update, I’ve built an CC2652P module for the GPIO as successor to the CC2538 which was the sucessor of the CC2530+CC2592 boards.

Marjin Pessers wrote instructions on how to get these (CC2652/CC2538) to work with Home Assistant (zha). The CC2652 is the same as the CC2538 in this regard.

Hi, I’m the author of design for ZigStar Stick, stick is working properly from October 2020,but was not listed ,because i was not really interested in the project(it was done for myself and Russian Community). Now I’m taking it to next level.

Check zig-star.com for more information.
Now is officially compatible with Z2M and ZHA.
All schematic,gerbers,BOM are available on website.

Hey mercenaruss,

I tried to buy the stick through www.zig-star.com but it throws an error when reaching the payment section.
Is it set up for accepting payments or should we wait?

Thanks