@CharlieAlphaBravo @Ron @Zed I did forget…
Sorry for not posting earlier… my apologies… I forgot.
You can purchase a Zigbee network interface on a USB stick that you can plug into a laptop or desktop. They are about $20CAN. Zigbee interfaces also work with Android devices, I understand. I’ve not used them with Android. Software is installed the allows you to access the Zigbee network. That’s basically it. I’m considering whatever is connected to your network as a device. I think Zigbee networks and devices conform to the IEEE 802.15.4 Standard.
The networks can be configured as a ‘cluster’, a ‘mesh’ or a ‘star’. I’ve only used a star configuration. It allows a simple addition or deletion to the network without interfering with any other devices. The centre of the star is the coordinator (PC Box) that controls the network.
There are real advantages to zigbee. You can connect a large number of devices (in the order of 65,000. They are low power; this allows the devices to be connected for a long time. The devices have to have their own power supply; batteries can last for months. The devices can have a ‘sleep mode’ to further reduce their power consumption.
Zigbee networks are slow and are not used for rapid data transmission. This is not normally an issue with sensing devices.
Devices can be added or removed from the network, by software and also physically removed very easily. There is no disruption to the rest of the network, unless you are using a cluster configuration. Even with a cluster or mesh, if one device fails, it does not precipitate failure of the network.
The devices have a fairly long range (a few hundred feet) and with boosters, the range can be substantially increased.
Since zigbee is ‘open sourced’ there are numerous open sourced software packages for controlling the network. There is a proprietary zigbee workalike called Z-Wave that is operated by a company (name escapes me) that has Z-Wave products that may or may not interface with Zigbee devices. The company ‘strictly’ controls the operation of their devices. The software is normally easy to install and to use.
The devices include temperature, pressure, humidity, electrical, stress/strain, and a whole bunch of others. They also include smart home devices for lights (including hue), switches, thermostats, etc.
There is a robust Zigbee following that can provide information on the hundreds of devices available and offer guidance. They are very active and knowledgeable and helpful.
The networks are relatively secure using 128 bit encryption. This is not normally an issue since the sensor data is not normally ‘critical’.
Any one that can add/correct the above is welcome to do so…