As I understand ZigBee is only a specification of a data transfer protocol. So I was expecting to find some library that implements this protocol to use it with my MCU and RF transceiver. Instead, I only have found specific ZigBee devices (e.g. XBee).

What I'm asking is: Can I implement the ZigBee protocol using only an MCU and RF transceiver?

If not, what hardware do I need to create a ZigBee node? Are there any ZigBee libraries that I can use with generic hardware?

1 Answer 1


You could, but you'd need a radio transceiver with compatible frequency range, modulation, and data rate.

Typically radios with those capabilities are either sold as Zigbee radios, or for the underlying 802.15.4 layer. Sometimes they can do some additional custom modes of communication as well (though often available software stacks force you to pick a mode at compile time)

Truly "generic" radios are typically "software defined" with early conversion of the RF or IF signal to digital, computational signal processing, and then a conversion back to IF or RF if there is a transmit path. While you could speak Zigbee with a suitable SDR, the hardware tends to be a bit expensive and power hungry for typical embedded applications compared to a radio specifically designed for 802.15.4

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