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How to select and flash CC2530

How to select a CC2530 board

Ebay and Aliexpress offer several boards with the CC2530 chip (keyword: CC2530). You may select any board, but use the following criteria:

  1. The board must have the CC2530F256 chip (fig. 3). The key number here is 256 and it means 256 KB of flash memory. Most firmware was compiled for 256K memory.
  2. The board may have many pins or contacts. If you do not have a soldering iron then select a board with headers. I would suggest to select a board where each pin has the corresponding label. The label may slightly different on different boards: P0.2, P02, P0_2 are the same pin. The board must have at least the following pins:
    1. Po.2, Po.3, P2.0 – used for a UART interface. If you plan to use this board instead CC2531 and connect to your SBC like Raspberry Pi, then you need these pins. If you’ll upload a router firmware to this board then these pins are optional.
    2. P2.1, P2.2, RST – used for uploading firmware.
    3. GND – ground.
    4. Power source (VCC) – it may be 3.3V, 5V or both. This pin can be marked by VCC only. Internally, the CC2530 chip uses the 3.3V voltage, but a manufacturer may add a voltage regulator on the board and you may use any supported voltage (3.3V or 5V, no difference). Please, read a description for this board carefully about the voltage.
  3. The board may include an additional small chip (fig.5). Most likely, this is a wireless signal amplifier. Usually these boards contain “Long range”, “RF front-end”, “RF amplifier”, “CC2591”, “RXF2401” in a description. These boards require a special firmware. I would suggest to select this board if you really have a firmware for this combination of the main chip (CC2530) and the RF front-end chip.
  4. The board may contain an antenna on-board (fig.2, 3, 6) or a connector for an external antenna (fig. 1, 3, 4, 5). The board with an external antenna will work better in most cases.
  5. Some boards may have a metallic shield over the main chip and/or the RF front-end. This shield protects the board from radio noises (good). But I would suggest to buy this board from a trusted vendors only because you cannot be sure about chips under this cover.
  6. Rare CC2530 based boards may include an USB interface (fig. 6). CC2530 does not have native USB support apart from CC2531. Therefore a manufacturer adds an additional chip on the board. The additional chip implements the USB interface and the CC debugger. Therefore you can upload a firmware to this board without a special debugger (CC debugger or SmartRF04EB).  Therefore it holds small space on your work table. It can be useful for developers. If you need only one CC2530 or CC2531 for a coordinator role you may save money. Please, read a description for a board carefully because this USB interface and chip may be used for another purpose. Therefore I cannot recommend this board for beginners.

CC2530 based Zigbee coordinator and router

Introduction

My smart home infrastructure contains several Xiaomi humidity/temperature and door sensors. I’ve used these sensors with the corresponding Xiaomi gateway. The gateway was connected with my BananaPi M2U and Pimatic. But my home is long and tall. One gateway does not cover all rooms and therefore far sensors disappear periodically.

I’ve googled and found I can use Xiaomi sockets (Zigbee edition) like Zigbee routers. This socket is less expensive than a new gateway and it has a smaller size. I’ve purchased tow sockets and used it about a month. This socket has a big problem (from my point of view). It can go into the deep sleep mode and cannot forward data packets from sensors.

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