Electronic Design

Sniffing Zigbee

Daintree Networks’ offerings are mainly software but its Ethernet/USB-based Sensor Network Adapter provides sniffing capabilities that are often unavailable with other vendors' hardware

Daintree Networks’ primary product is the Sensor Network Analyzer (SNA). It provides protocol analysis for 802.15.4 and ZigBee networks. It also provides visualization of network topologies, routing and application bindings, link quality, and access to device status. It is invaluable for network analysis, troubleshooting and application debugging, and works with hardware from a range of wireless vendors as well as Daintree Networks’ Ethernet/USB-based Sensor Network Adapter. The functionality in the former may vary depending upon the capabilities of the hardware. SNA can capture network traffic, providing a number of different views from graphical network topologies to packet analysis. The Windows-based application can be customized, as ZigBee profiles are defined using XML. Standard profiles are available but it is possible to define custom ones as well. Installing SNA and the adapter is very simple and takes only a few minutes. The USB adapter interface simply needs the device driver when it is plugged in and the SNA application requires no customization during initial installation. SNA supports multiple nodes but one is sufficient to handle most development chores since it can capture data from everything within range of the adapter. The Ethernet connection is typically used in a multiple adapter environment. Of course, remote sites can be easily linked using 802.11/Ethernet links. Networked configuration is only slightly more complicated than the USB installation. Performance is not an issue because Ethernet is so much faster than ZigBee. SNA meets or exceeds any tool I have used on the wired network side of things. I especially liked the ability to record and playback sessions and to breakpoint on packets because most of the communication must take place in real time or the entire network must be taken into account. SNA works equally well for 802.15.4 or ZigBee networks. It has a range of modes and filtering capabilities so it is possible to get down to the byte level or stay above the fray and watch only the high-level network status. It is possible to drill down as necessary. While SNA is easy to use, it helps to understand the basics of 802.15.4 and ZigBee, and you need to know the details if you are drilling down deep. SNA does a good presentation job since it can analyze packet contents. A good deal of the ZigBee protocol is analyzed automatically greatly simplifying a developers work when it comes to network analysis. I didn’t test the multi-node capture system, but it doesn’t look like the interface or presentation changes. The data should be integrated automatically and you can always get the details if necessary. After working with SNA I find some of the alternatives bundled with third party hardware limiting. Unless you are working with a very small network of nodes, you will need SNA or something like it. Daintree Networks’ software is available in a free evaluation version that can be downloaded from their website but you need to get a time-limited serial number first. The Basic version is typically bundled with third-party products. It lacks some of the statistical and customization facilities and it is not supported by Daintree Networks directly. The Standard and Pro versions provide more features and are supported directly by Daintree Networks. Related Links Daintree Networks

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