HomeHome AutomationElectrolama in my network - flashing CC2652R

Electrolama in my network – flashing CC2652R

There are lamas everywhere

I had a great time with my CC2531 but as my device list grew, it was time to say goodbye and look for alternatives. Instead of reinventing wheels once again, I went with a recommended choice for Zigbee2MQTT. After all, using NodeRED instead of Home Assistant like the rest of normal people is edgy enough. So what’s my ZigBee coordinator of choice and why? Read on

All the Lama, non of the spit

It’s quite a jump from a $5 coordinator to a device that will milk your wallet five times that much. Doing something was a necessity. In the household dominated by my DIY automation: the Smart Heating alone eats generously into the coordinator’s limit with 12 Sonoff Temperature sensors. Add the Smart Door, random button and switches, and my poor CC2531 is struggling to pair new devices leading to frustrations and wasted time.

This is where the Lama comes in. Electrolama to be precise – or more factual CC2652R ZigBee coordinator I managed to get on Tindie. “zig-a-zig-ah” (is it just me that get Spice Girls’ song reference trying to say it out loud?) is a recommended coordinator by Koenkk – a familiar name behind the ZStack firmware and ZigBee2MQTT development. It brings support to up to 200 devices with ZigBee 3.0 and seems to be a dream come true for my personal setup.

zzh – for short

Lama comes true to its nature – barebone, and needing TLC to work. Flashed with a blink sketch, the coordinator needs a little setup before you get started. Unlike CC2530, Lama/zzh/CC2652R doesn’t need extra connectors to accept the initial firmware (as long as you do it correctly), so if you follow the instructions you won’t need the DIY debugger package. I got the debugger header as well, as you know me, I like to mess around and break things.

Flash

You can put the soldering iron down. To flash Lama zzh coordinator, you will need a PC (preferably) Windows, matching drivers, a Texas Instruments’ flash tool and correct firmware. Get everything installed and organised nearly and then:

  • Hold BLS button down, then plug the coordinator into the USB, let go after 2-3 sec
  • Open TI software and select CC2652R from the dropdown at the right
  • Pick the firmware .hex file for CC2652R
  • Select: Erase Program & Verify options
  • Use Play button to start the process.
 >Page: 43 verified OK.
 >Verification finished successfully.
 >Reset target ...
 >Reset of target successful.

This is the message upon the successful flash. If you are given anything else, make sure you held the BLS button long enough before and after the coordinator had been plugged in.

Changes to configuration.yaml need to be done as follow otherwise your coordinator won’t work:

homeassistant: false
permit_join: true
mqtt:
  base_topic: zigbee2mqtt
  server: 'mqtt://xxxxxxx'
  user: xxx
  password: xxxxxxx
serial:
  port: /dev/ttyUSB0
advanced:
  rtscts: false
devices:

Usage

Once correctly set up, Electrolama works like any other coordinator in ZigBee2MQTT. The only problem I ran into, was the interference. I would advise you to use an extension USB cable (like this) to get your coordinator positioned far away from the Raspberry Pi. Otherwise, you may run into issues with pairing devices. I already covered pairing supported and unsupported devices in my articles:

My first impressions look promising. While the direct limit is still only 50 devices, it gives me some time to re-deploy my sensors again and test it further before I add a couple of CC2530 based routers.

Final Thoughts

It’s too early to give a sterling recommendation, but moving forward, you will see me either using it in all upcoming tutorials or bitching about it. Let’s hope it’s the former. Recent issues with hitting the limits on my ZigBee mesh gave me enough troubles to try something new. Let’s hope I will be recommending Lamas moving forward. Let me know what do you think in this Reddit thread.

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