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ZigBee hub builds on Raspberry Pi

Apr 10, 2019 — by Eric Brown 8,869 views

Dresden-Elektronik has launched two ZigBee home automation gateways: an RPi-based “Phoscon Gateway” and a “ConBee II” USB stick. The gateways run the company’s deCONZ Zigbee Gateway software paired with a new mobile app.

Dresden-Elektronik announced the release of a ZigBee-enabled home automation hub based on a Raspberry Pi 3 SBC, as well as a second-gen USB dongle for enabling laptops and other Linux and Windows computers with a ZigBee gateway. The 151.22-Euro ($170) Phoscon Gateway and 33.57-Euro ($38) ConBee II USB dongle are compatible with “almost all known manufacturers of commercial and DIY Zigbee devices, such as Philips Hue, IKEA Tradfri, OSRAM Lightify, Xiaomi Aqara, Innr, XBee Series 2, Trust Zigbee, and Dresden Elektronik’s own FLS ballasts,” says the Dresden, Germany based company.

Phoscon Gateway (left) ConBee II

Both the Phoscon Gateway and ConBee II run Dresden-Elektronik’s deCONZ Zigbee Gateway software. The software works in conjunction with a new Phoscon App, which runs on Android and iOS mobile devices or any web browser.

The deCONZ software supports intelligent control of smart lighting, sensors, and switches via the short-range, 2.4GHz ZigBee (IEEE 802.15.4) wireless mesh networking standard. There’s also support for ZigBee Light Link and ZigBee 3.0 devices.


The deCONZ software appears to be the same used on Dresden-Elektronik’s earlier RaspBee ZigBee Raspberry Pi add-on board, which is a reference design for its ATmega128RFA1 or ATmega256RFR2 based deRFmega module. Thanks to the software’s support for offline use, without the need for a cloud component beyond installation and OTA updates, the software offers greater privacy than many home automation gateways, says the company.

In addition to supporting all the ZigBee platforms listed above, there are installation wizards for Busch-Jaeger, GIRA, JUNG and Dresden-Elektronik devices. The Phoscon App supports prioritization between motion detectors and switches, including temporarily deactivating sensors based on the situation.

Phoscon Gateway

The Phoscon Gateway supports up to 200 ZigBee nodes. The hub can also be used as a standalone WiFi access point.

Phoscon Gateway (left) and with deCONZ software

The Phoscon Gateway appears to run on the original Raspberry Pi 3 SBC rather than the newer 3B+. The 90 x 70 x 25mm device is enabled with the Raspberry Pi’s 10/100Mbps Ethernet port and WiFi, which is presumably 2.4GHz 802.11n.

Other listed specs include the 2.4GHz ZigBee radio, an HDMI port, a microSD slot, a micro-USB port for power, and a power adapter. The image also shows the RPi’s 4x USB 2.0 host ports. The device supports -20  to 55°C temperatures.

There are a variety of Raspberry Pi based IoT gateways available with ZigBee support, including the recent Avnet SmartEdge Industrial IoT Gateway. ZigBee-focused gateways based on the Pi include Silicon Labs’ ZigBee Wi-Fi/Ethernet Gateway Reference Design.

ConBee II

The new “ConBee II” ZigBee USB dongle improves on the original ConBee stick by offering an improved signal amplifier with longer radio range, says Dresden-Elektronik. The device also advances to a 32-bit Cortex-M0 controller (Microchip’s ATSAMR21E18A) instead of the previous 8-bit AVR-based SoC. The 61 x 18 x 9mm USB stick offers IP20 protection and supports -20  to 55°C temperatures.

ConBee II

The ConBee II can be plugged into Ubuntu and Raspbian based Linux computers, as well as Windows 7/8.1/10 systems. To analyze the communication between ZigBee devices, a connection can be established between the ConBee II and the Wireshark sniffer program by using the free ZSHARK software.

Further information

The 151.22-Euro ($170) Phoscon Gateway and 33.57-Euro ($38) ConBee II USB stick are available now from Dresden-Elektronik. More information may be found on the Phoscon Gateway product page and shopping page, as well as the ConBee II datasheet (PDF) and shopping page. (The ConBee II is also available on Amazon for 40 Euros.) More on the new Phoscon App may be found here.


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