Reply
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎03-09-2017
Accepted Solution

Zigbee HA Prototype Development - EFR32MG as NPC plus EFM32ZG

I'm looking to develop a low volume Zigbee home automation product and would like to base is around the Mighty Gecko SoC. Projected volume is low so I want to keep fixed costs down, therefore:

  1. I will use the EFR32MG as an NCP to avoid prohibitive IAR license fees.
  2. I will use a prebuilt module for the NCP in the final prototype, e.g. MGM111, to save design time and certification costs.
  3. I will probably use an EFM32ZG as application host microcontroller.

I have a lot of reading to do but is the following all I need to but to develop an initial prototype?

  1. EFR32 Mighty Gecko Wireless Starter Kit - SLWSTK6000A
  2. EFM32 Zero Gecko Starter Kit - EFM32ZG-STK3200

Other questions:

  1. Is there a cheaper way to start with the EFR32 if only using as NCP, or do I still need the whole dev kit? I don't think I really need 3 mainboards with 6 radio boards (though agree it helps for proper mesh testing).
  2. Is there any reason to test with an MGM111 based SLWRB4300B (other than for power testing) with the devkit? Or is it reasonable to skip this step and move to a custom pcb?

Thank you!

 

Posts: 109
Registered: ‎09-25-2015

Re: Zigbee HA Prototype Development - EFR32MG as NPC plus EFM32ZG

Hi Richard,

 

You may want to reconsider your architecture, as we do not have a zigbee Host App designed specifically for the EFM32 platform. We do provide a POSIX-compliant Host, but there is significant effort required in porting this to the EFM. I understand your interest in keeping costs down, but you'll have to make your own decision in terms of the development cost vs the tools cost.

 

I would note that the IAR compiler is generally available with a 30-day free license. In addition, depending on your design, if you need to move from a standard NCP build to a customized xNCP, you will need the compiler. On the bright side, we have been working to provide GCC, although we do not have a timeline for that feature; certainly it will not be available before Q2-2017. However, as of the 5.9 stack, the bootloaders can be built with GCC, so this is promising.

 

You do need to purchase a devkit because it is registration of the devkit which provides access to our zigbee stack. I would personally recommend getting the devkit with modules that match your final project because it will be easier to migrate from the devkit to the actual hardware and it makes it easier to locate and troubleshoot any problems with your custom design.

 

Best,

-Alex

Posts: 2
Registered: ‎03-09-2017

Re: Zigbee HA Prototype Development - EFR32MG as NPC plus EFM32ZG

Thanks for the information Alex.

 

You say you don't have a Host app designed for EFM32, is the same true for your other MCUs? Wasn't this supported on EM35x? 

 

 

 

Even if I do license IAR, or work within the trial, there is still benefit to the (custom) NCP approach in some of my applications. I just had a quick look though, and the protocol does not look something to implement/port without a very good reason.

 

I'm also curious about the Thunderboard Sense kit? That has a multi-protocol radio but, compiler issues aside, does it allow access to the various radio stacks? Presumably not given the price, but the product description is a bit light for this compared to the other kits.

 

I'm glad to hear about the GCC development, that will enable a lot of smaller developers and hobbyists.

 

-Richard

Highlighted
Posts: 109
Registered: ‎09-25-2015

Re: Zigbee HA Prototype Development - EFR32MG as NPC plus EFM32ZG

Hi Richard,

 

The Thunderboard Sense is really more of a demo unit than a full devkit. Specifically, we only provide access to the stack if you have purchased a devkit. (But once you purchase one, you can use it as you like, including on the Sense.)

 

We don't have host code written for any of our MCUs. We do have an aging implementation for an STMicro part, which could be leveraged with some work. We are not actively developing this code, so you'd again be mostly on your own. In general, we see our customers building the NCP host on a chip running some Linux variant.

 

We are definitely looking forward to GCC support along with you. Just to reiterate, though, the timing of this is not available, and I cannot guarantee it will happen, although it's likely.

 

Best,

-Alex