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Tearing into a Zigbee-based LED light

November 09, 2018

bdipert-November 09, 2018

My house is Alexa-enhanced, with Amazon Echos , Echo Dots , and an Echo Tap scattered throughout. When I saw the second-generation Echo redesign for the first time, I was pretty underwhelmed by its comparative appearance; I guess I'm more of a "metal" (vs "fabric") kind of guy. So, I decided to pick up a few first-generation spares, while they were still available, to put into archive storage for whenever the in-service units might die.

In doing so, I stumbled across the Echo Plus , a product variant I hadn't heard of before. It looked just like the Echo, albeit with a slightly different sound signature that folks either marginally preferred or demurred. But here's the key; in exchange for a slightly higher price tag, it included a built-in Zigbee device controller (subject to 10-100 meter range, although the protocol is mesh-based for repeater-enabled network range extension). As such, it claims to replace (for example) the standalone Bridge device normally required to link a conventional Echo to Philips' Hue Zigbee-based LED lights (albeit with more limited functionality ... according to reviews I've seen, the Echo Plus only supports elementary on/off functionality, not dimming, color-changing, or other Hue feature set enhancements handled by the Bridge).

What better way, I thought, to not only pick up a spare Echo but also do some hands-on Zigbee testing for the first time? Initially, I snagged a refurbished Echo Plus on sale (at the time) for $80.99 , supplementing it with a standalone Zigbee-supportive 60W-equivalent LED light bulb for an additional $9.99. Shortly thereafter, brand new units went on sale for $99.99 (a close-out special, I accurately surmised at the time ... the fabric-swathed second-generation Echo Plus is now the only option available for sale brand new), complete with a free Philips Hue bulb, so I got one of these, too.

With a spare LED light bulb now in my possession, a teardown became a feasible option. Specifically, what I'll be dissecting today is Sengled's model E11-G13 , the Element Classic A19 "smart" bulb with 2700K soft white color temperature, currently sold on Amazon for $9.99 . I'll start out with some exterior packaging shots:
 
 
 

Inside you'll find the bulb itself, accompanied by two internal support pieces of cardboard and a single business card-sized piece of documentation ... that's it:
 

Here's the backside of that sliver of literature and a close-up of the bulb itself:

 

I fired up my heat gun to see if it might be able to cleanly separate the bulb's translucent plastic globe from the more robust base ... no dice, all it did was deform the globe:


A hacksaw, however, did the trick:
 
 

What's this I see?
 
 

>> Continue reading this article on our sister site, EDN: "Teardown: Zigbee-controlled LED light bulb."

 

 

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