[TUT] ZigBee Radio Project / Collaborative Tutorial

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ZigBee is something I've been interested in for a long time. Atmel offers some nice chips for the RF part and these fit perfectly with the AVR processors we all know and love. So I've just managed to design and build a radio that connects to AVRs to implement a ZigBee Controller and Device. I want to offer this complete design to whoever would like to replicate (and extend) it. Instructions are included, but I think there's lots of potential questions not answered. If folks will give it a serious read and ask those questions, I'll try to give useful responses. The result, when done, will be the complete ZigBee for AVR Tutorial - hence the "Collaborative Tutorial". I hope this is an acceptable approach.

All that said, here is the intro to the Project.Have a look, get the Project files, and let's work on making this a real tutorial. (Caveat: I'm working on a MS in Computer Science right now, so sometimes those pesky classes and exams may delay my resposes.)

Building Zigbee Radios Using Atmel AT86RF230B and Atmel Processors

This project consists of the circuit board design, parts list, and all software so you can build and use your own Zigbee radios for remote data gathering. Information is provided to guide you in building the radios using surface mount technology. The necessary software, following the Atmel model, is provided for two specific microcontrollers used as the basis for the project.

Warning: This is not a project for Beginners! You don't have to be an Electrical Engineer, but you do need to have intermediate level hardware and software skills. Although I try to explain a lot about the design and what's going on, this is a project, not a tutorial.

This project is complete in the sense that you can follow it to build your own Zigbee Coordinator and Zigbee Device and communicate between them. It is not complete in the sense that there's a lot more that could be done with these radios and the software, including making much larger and more complex networks, as well as exploring very low power modes. So there's room for many exciting sequels and future projects as time permits. But by making this all available at this stage I hope to inspire collaborators to contribute their projects as well.

Motivation

I had two goals in doing this project:
1.I'd like to be able to experiment with Zigbee radios for a lot less than about $25 each for commercial units. (Mine cost more like $8 each or less).
2.I wanted to see if it was possible to build working Zigbee radios at all without an RF Engineering degree. (It is.) My hope was for decent range. (These achieve about 100 feet including going from inside to outside.)

What's it do?

This project implements a Zigbee Controller and Device. Data collected by the device are transmitted regularly to the Controller which prints via its USB port to a terminal emulator running on a PC of some type (pick your favorite). As implemented, only one channel of the A/D is read, but more channels could easily be added.

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For collaborative tutorial won't it be better if you just publish whatever you have now?

As far as I know there already is project to develop open source ZigBee stack, don't know how it goes though.

Man power required to develop certifiable ZigBee stack is commonly estimated as 15-20 man*years and then constant maintenance to update stack to new erratas that are periodically published.

NOTE: I no longer actively read this forum. Please ask your question on www.eevblog.com/forum if you want my answer.

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Great questions, Alexru, and thanks for starting things off. So I need to clarify a few points.
1. Everything *is* published. You can get it from the Projects section of this site. Simply click the Projects tab on the top menu bar and you'll go there. Then search for ZigBee if the project doesn't show. Post if you can't find it.
2. This project uses Atmel's ZigBee stack. I provide the specifically modified files needed for the project. I don't propose to create this, but if someone does, the hardware from this project should work with it.

HTH. Keep those comments coming!

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doctek wrote:
2. This project uses Atmel's ZigBee stack.
This is not ZigBee stack, it is only MAC layer, it is like 10% of the ZigBee stack. Atmel's ZigBee stack is called BitCloud.

LE: I'd also like to see your schematic and layouts in PDF format.

NOTE: I no longer actively read this forum. Please ask your question on www.eevblog.com/forum if you want my answer.

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Of course you're correct. This uses only the MAC, but I find that very useful for this project. That's all it takes to implement the Controller and the Device. Extending the software to a complete ZigBee stack is a project for some else, not me. But they should be able to use my hardware for the radio part.

PDFs of the board and the schematic have been added to the Project. Let me know what else is needed or any other questions.

And again, thanks for your inputs!

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In that case the thread title should be something like ISM/RF MAC layer collaboration.

The topic is definitely needed, but unless the project/product needs to work with devices from other makers, Zigbee is overbloated and overkill.

Throw down what you got to make your MAC implementation work then others may follow and add what it takes to do the PAL and TAL. Once that's done someone may want to add the rest of the Zigbee stuff and the Tut would be done.

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docktek,

You seem to have missed the point of the Tutorial Forum - this is for complete projects that other can learn from. If you are just proposing to collaboratively write such a tutorial the discussion really belongs in AVR Forum - should I move this thread there?

Moderator.

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This is yet another example of why we need a "sandbox" for tutorials. Wait, wait, I know, just use the AVR Software Framework forum, it isn't used much. ':twisted:'

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So what I've posted to the Projects area *is* basically tutorial in nature - you just have to be fairly advanced to be able to follow it. There's lots left to be filled in - and the most effective way I know to do that (given my limited time) is to respond to questions. So an interested person needs to read the project files and then ask about details that are unclear - thus helping everyone else learn.

I admit this is not the way a lot (maybe any) of the other tutorials work, but it's in keeping with the spirit of tutorials-as-learning-vehicles IMHO. If this sort of experiment is not acceptable here, then by all means move or delete the thread.