LR-WPAN – ZigBee, Thread, 6LoWPAN, Wireless Hart, ISA100 device testing

LR-WPAN networks are optimized for low-rate data transmission, low power consumption and often support meshed network architectures. The ZigBee Alliance has specified a suite of communications protocols using small, low-power digital radios based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. The low power consumption results in battery life cycles of several years or even in permanent operation via small solar cells or induction coils. ZigBee is targeted at RF applications that require low data rate, long battery life, and secure networking, such as sensors in industrial and home automation applications. Similarly, the Thread group has used the IEEE 802.15.4 standard to create an IPv6 network to connect and control products in the home.

Various WPAN protocol stacks apply the physical layer of IEEE 802.15.4

The commonly used physical layer is specified to operate in the unlicensed ISM bands (2.4 GHz worldwide) using offset quadrature phase shift keying (O-QPSK) modulation. O-QPSK is based on the well-known QPSK modulation scheme, but in O-QPSK the transitions for I and Q are offset by half the symbol time. This limits phase changes to a maximum of 90° and ultimately reduces the envelope variations significantly, allowing more efficient RF amplification. The IEEE 802.15.4 standard specifies 5 MHz channels ranging from 2.405 GHz to 2.480 GHz. The specified maximum over-the-air data rate is 250 kbps. The transmission distance ranges from some few meters to hundreds of meters, depending on RF power and environmental conditions.

Spread spectrum and O-QPSK modulation enable low power, robust communications

The IEEE 802.15.4 standard specifies typical RF measurements such as transmit power spectral density (PSD), transmit center frequency tolerance, minimum transmit power, error vector magnitude (EVM), out-of-band spurious emissions, receiver sensitivity and more. In addition to these standard requirements, several regulatory requirements specified for devices operating in the 2.4 GHz ISM band need to be fulfilled. In EN 300 328 for example, the ETSI defined mandatory measurements for maximum transmit power, spectrum power density and parameters such as duty cycle and TX gap.

Rohde & Schwarz supports RF measurements of IEEE 802.15.4 signals in the 2.4 GHz ISM band during design, validation, conformance and production.


  • This application note describes how to create and generate standard-conform IEEE 802.15.4 test signals with the Rohde & Schwarz Vector Signal Generators (VSG).

  • IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee) uses Offset QPSK with a half-sine pulse-shaping filter as modulation. This application note describes how to set up the Rohde & Schwarz signal analyzers together with the corresponding vector signal analysis (VSA) personality for modulation quality measurements, especially EVM, for ZigBee.

Featured Products

  • R&S®FSV Signal and Spectrum Analyzer
    • Exceptionally fast and versatile signal and spectrum analyzer for performance-oriented, cost-conscious users
    • Accurate EVM measurements for IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee signals) with R&S®FSV- K70
  • R&S®SMBV100A Vector Signal Generator
    • Excellent RF performance along with very high output level and short setting times
    • IEEE 802.15.4 signal generation with a dedicated IEEE 802.15.4 frame builder tool
    • Fully fledged GNSS simulator with GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou and QZSS/SBAS support
  • R&S®CMW100 Communications Manufacturing Test Set
    • Trendsetting manufacturing test set for calibrating and verifying wireless devices supporting ZigBee, Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi and all major cellular technologies
    • Parallel testing on up to eight RF ports
    • High measurement performance
  • R&S®TS8997 Regulatory Test System for Wireless Devices
    • Measurements in line with ETSI EN 300 328 v1.8.1 and ETSI EN 301 893 v1.7.1 required by R&TTE directive for the European market
    • Support of all test cases in line with ETSI EN 300 328, including frequency hopping
    • Conducted measurements for devices with antenna connector
    • Radiated measurements using R&S®DST200 RF diagnostic chamber and R&S®CMW-Z10 RF shield box for devices with integrated antenna
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Topic: LR-WPAN / ZigBee

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