Anytime I have to add a radio to a project, there’s a 100% chance I’m going to spend the first five minutes trying to remember how exactly the RX-TX wires connect from the Zigbee radio module to the Arduino’s Serial pins. It’s kind of like trying to plug in a USB connector, even though there are only two ways to try and plug it in, it’ll take three attempts before you’ve got it right. But one function I’ve never really utilized is the built-in microcontroller capabilities in these systems! Well, the first step to using that functionality is right here- the ZigUNO.
This board has the exact dimensions of an Arduino Uno, just with a Zigbee radio instead of the ATmega328p. With the size and layout being largely the same as a “vanilla” Arduino Uno, all of your HATs are still compatible, so compact designs can easily happen. This development board is based around an Ebyte E18-MS1 module, which has an integrated Intel 8051 microcontroller on board.
Even though the 8051 is a 3.3V chip, the board has a 5V, 1.5A DC-DC convertor on it so you won’t run into any power supply issues with any HATs needing 5V. And though it is the shape and size of an Arduino, just a word of caution that it is not programmed the exact same way as your average Arduino-type microcontroller.
This development board was designed by mind.in.ua, who is based in Odessa, Ukraine. They have plenty of documentation available here, where you can take a look at their schematic, bill of materials, and some suggested projects to get yourself started!