Sniffing ZigBee Packets

When engineers tackle a project that uses ZigBee communications they may get a surprise. Unlike point-to-point communications, ZigBee involves a network that can establish nodes, repeaters and complex mesh topologies. The proper test tools–often called “sniffers”–help engineers diagnose ZigBee-network problems that could otherwise turn into nightmares.

Microchip Technology includes the ZENA Wireless Network Analyzer with its PICDEM Z demonstration kit so engineers can see what goes on among ZigBee devices. The ZENA tool also can sniff and decode Microchip’s MiWi protocol that, like ZigBee, uses IEEE 802.15.4 radios. According to Steve Bible, an applications engineering manager at Microchip, ZENA time stamps packets and displays them in a graphical format. ”

The screen shows the destination and source addresses, the payload and the data,” explained Bible. “We add some color coding and provide data as hexadecimal values. Users also see a received signal strength indication, or RSSI–an uncalibrated relative value.”

“ZigBee and IEEE 802.15.4 technologies require a shift in how we analyze and manage ad-hoc wireless networks,” said Matt Perkins, VP of technology development at Awarepoint, a supplier of wireless asset-tracking systems. “An analyzer should take time-sliced snapshots of network traffic, ‘mine’ the traffic for metrics such as throughput, bottlenecks and end-to-end delays, and presents information in a concise graphical form.”

Source: Freaklabs

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