Jasco Motion Dimmer Explained

The Jasco Motion Dimmer is an ideal Z-Wave product for home automation. We want the lights to come on automatically when we enter a room and off again when everyone has left. The motion sensing needs to be reliable and sensitive and ideally not involve changing batteries every few months. Thus, a wall mounted, always-on dimmer with a built-in motion sensor fits our needs perfectly. In this blog article I’ll explain a few tricks to getting the most out of this handy device.

Configuration Parameters

The Jasco Motion Dimmer has 18 configuration parameters. The parameters can be set by reading the documentation and then programming them using complex combinations of button presses. But, with a Z-Wave device, it’s much easier to program them via Z-Wave. Most Hubs allow you to program the configuration parameters though the process to do so is different with every Hub. The parameters are briefly described on the Jasco web site ezzwave and on the Z-Wave Alliance web site. However, these brief descriptions don’t clearly describe what the parameter does and more importantly, what the best settings are to get the most out of this device.

Several parameters are two bytes instead of just one even though the value will typically fit in one (the value is 0-255). The parameters listed with a (2) in the Name field below means they are two bytes. If there is no (2) in the name then just send one byte. Sending just one byte to the 2 byte parameters can confuse the dimmer and it may not set the parameter to the desired value. The result is frustration as you sent it your desired value but it didn’t take it or set it to what appears to be some random value. Always send the proper number of bytes for each specific parameter. Some Hubs will handle this for you, but others must be done manually.

The table below is the list of all parameters with the less important ones greyed out and my own more detailed description of what each parameter does.

1Timeout5Motion Sensor Timeout
0=5s test mode
Time the lights remain on in Occupancy mode
2Assoc dim2550=99 dim level
255=last ON level
Dim level to send to associated lights. The Hub is better at controlling other lights so ignore this parameter.
3Mode31=Manual – Motion sensor does not control the local load
2=Vacancy – only turns lights off
3=Occupancy – Lights on when motion detected and off when none after Timeout
4Invert buttons00=normal (top=up, bottom=down)
1=invert (top=down, bottom=up)
If you accidentally install the dimmer upside down, inverting it will correct your mistake
6Motion Enable10=disable
Why would you disable motion sensing?
7Steps via Z-Wave1Leave at 1
See the Ramp Rate discussion below
8Speed via Z-Wave (2)3Number of seconds for the dimmer to go from 0 to 100% via a Z-Wave command
9Steps via button1Leave at 1
10Speed via button (2)3Number of seconds for the dimmer to go from 0 to 100% via a button press or the motion sensor
11Steps via AllOnOff1AllOnOff commands are obsolete
12Speed via AllOnOff (2)3Leave at default
13Motion Sensitivity21=high – detects people at a distance
3=low – less likely to detect a pet
14Light Sensing00=disabled
If enabled and the room is brightly lit the lights will not turn on when motion is detected
15Reset Time (2)20=disabled
1=10s, 2=20s, 3=30s, 4=45s, 5-255=n*15s
When Motion is detected a notification is sent to the hub saying there is motion. After Reset Time, a reset notification to clear the motion event is sent. If you are still in the room, motion and reset notifications will continue to be sent. Depending on your hub you may want to change this but generally the default works.
16Switch Mode00=disabled
Switch mode changes the dimmer to act like a switch so the light turns on (100%) or off instantly. If you want this mode, buy the cheaper switch instead.
17Switch Level00-99=Brightness level
Sets the dim level when motion is detected or the top button is tapped. You can press and hold the top which will continue to increase the dim level further if you have set this to something other than 99.
Ignored when Switch Mode is enabled.
18Dim Up rate00=fast
This applies only to commands sent via Z-Wave and only applies to the dim up ramp rate. Best to leave this at the default of 0 and use parameters 8 and 10 instead.
19Exclusion Mode00=any button
1=Tap X then ON will enter exclusion mode, Tap X then tap OFF 10 times in less than 5 seconds will factory reset the dimmer.
X is the little button behind the face plate to the left of the ON button. Enable this mode if there are other Z-Wave networks nearby (IE: in a condo or apartment) to reduce the risk that one of these other networks will exclude the dimmer when you tap one of the buttons. When 0, every time you tap either On or Off the NIF is sent. If a nearby controller is in exclusion mode, your dimmer will be excluded from YOUR network and it will seem to stop working. I recommend setting this to 1 either way to reduce the chance even within your own household of accidentally excluding the dimmer.
Configuration Parameters

Dimming Ramp Rates

When a dimmer changes the light level from 0 to 100%, the time it takes for the light to go from 0 to 100% is set by the Ramp Rate. The dimmer has six parameters related to the dimming ramp rate, parameters 7 through 12. The ramp rate is configured using a pair of parameters for three different methods of changing the light level. The “Steps or Levels” is the number of dim levels that the light level changes every Time Step. Always leave the Steps at the default of one. Anything more than one results in the light level “jumping” from one step to the next while dimming. This jumping is just plain unpleasant so always leave Steps at one. The Time Step parameter (Speed) is how often the Step is added to the current dim level in 10 millisecond increments or every 1/100th of a second. Since the dim level goes from 0 to 100 and it takes 1/100th of a second to increment once, then the Time Step simply is the number of seconds for the dim level to go from 0 to 100%. The default ramp rate is three seconds which is what most people expect and in general is a good value.

The three pairs of ramp rates provide different ramp rates based on the method to turn the light on or off.

  1. Z-Wave command – parameters 7 and 8
  2. Button or Motion detection – parameters 9 and 10
  3. All On/Off commands – parameters 11 and 12

The easy ones to ignore are the All On/Off parameters as the Z-Wave All On/Off commands are obsolete. Simply leave these at the default. The remaining two pairs can be used for different purposes based on what is changing the light level. I recommend leaving the Button/Motion parameters at the default of 3 seconds. This is the expected ramp rate of the average dimmer. When a person presses the button or motion is detected, they expect the dimmer to react at about this speed. Setting it to less than 3 seconds results in the user being unable to set a mid-level as the ramp rate is too fast to accurately stop at a mid level. The dimmer pretty much becomes a switch. Setting the ramp rate to more than 3 seconds will quickly become annoying as it just takes too long to get to the desired level. That leaves the Z-Wave command ramp rate parameters. These can definitely be programmed to be longer, potentially much longer so that the level changes quite slowly and an occupant can override the slowly changing light level by pressing the button or waving their hands in the air so the motion sensor will detect them.

The Z-Wave Multilevel Switch command Version 2 includes a Duration field which is the number of seconds to go from 0 to 100% or the ramp rate. If the Hub sends a dim level command with the Duration field, the configuration parameters are ignored and instead the ramp rate is set to the Duration value in the command. Some Hubs let you assign the Duration field but most only support Version 1 which only has the level and no duration which the dimmer will then use the configuration parameters dim rate.

Association Groups

Three association groups are supported with up to five NodeIDs each. Your Hub should automatically assign itself to Group 1 which is the Lifeline group. The Lifeline group is required for every Z-Wave Plus device and identifies the NodeID where any state changes will be sent. The dimmer sends your Hub commands whenever the sensor detects motion or the state of the local load changes (someone presses the On or Off button). Thus, it is very important that the Hub be assigned to Association Group 1 so Hub app on your phone matches the actual state of the dimmer.

Groups 2 and 3 are identical and simply send Basic On/Off commands to the associated NodeID. Assigning a NodeID to these groups will send a command to turn the NodeID either On or Off when motion is detected or not. Assigning a NodeID to these groups enables the motion detector or the buttons to turn on/off other lights in a larger room quickly. Using the association groups is fast since the dimmer sends the Z-Wave commands directly to the light and works even if the Hub is offline for some reason.

Multi-channel associations are supported but generally you want to avoid them. Multi-channel adds another layer of encapsulation to every frame which just slows everything down. The only time you might want to use multi-channel association is if you wanted to control a specific outlet in a power strip with the motion sensor. Multichannel would be required to choose which of the outlets in the power strip to turn on/off. However, I recommend that you let your Hub do complex operations like this and keep things simple with the dimmer.

1LifelineMotion Sensor readings and status of the load are reported
2Basic On/OffBASIC SET On or Off commands
3Basic On/OffBASIC SET On or Off commands
Association Groups

When a NodeID is assigned to an association group, the node will be interviewed and depending on the command classes the node supports, the dimmer will send different commands. Specifically, if the device supports CRC16 then the commands will be encapsulated in CRC16 which improves the reliability of the command being delivered without errors but isn’t really necessary.

Why are there two association groups you ask? The reason is to match the feature set of many other Jasco Z-Wave products which send different commands in the two groups. But for this device it always sends the same commands from either group. My recommendation is to not use Group 3 at all. If you want to associate other lights directly with the dimmer, use Group 2.


There are many ways to use a motion sensor wall dimmer. Perhaps the toughest question is where to install it? The first place I installed my motion dimmers are in hallways. When your arms are full of groceries, you want the lights to just come on when you enter. More important in my household is that the lights go OFF shortly after everyone has left the hallway! Back in the bad ol’ days, the hallway lights were always on all the time because no one ever turned them off! The challenge with hallways is typically they are 2, 3 or more way lights so the placement of the motion sensor is key. Jasco makes an inexpensive Add-On Switch that connects to the Traveler wire to enable the multi-way switch so it can be operated manually as before. However, getting the motion sensor to cover a long thin hallway can be difficult since the motion sensor is built into the wall and cannot be pointed down the hallway. In that case you may need to use a separate battery powered motion sensor to trigger normal dimmer switches. What this means is that a wall mounted fixed position motion sensor may not work for all situations but the sensor has a wide angle lens so it will work most of the time.

Easy Mode – Use the Defaults

The simplest configuration is to use the dimmer as-is using the default settings. The defaults work as you would expect and obviously is the easiest to setup and use! Perhaps the only real decision here is which wall switch to replace. In this mode the lights come on when motion is detected and off after 10 minutes. Perhaps the one configuration to adjust would be the Timeout especially for hallways. Since you’re usually passing thru the hallway and thus moving quite a bit, the Timeout can be short, one or two minutes. A short Timeout keeps the power consumption to a minimum while providing sufficient light to travel thru the space.

Slow Dim – Parameter 8

The next parameter to consider customizing is the Z-Wave dim ramp rate (Parameter 8). The motion sensor and the buttons continue to use the typical 3 second ramp rates which are what people would normally expect. But when a Z-Wave command sends a command to change the light level, a significantly slower ramp level can be used. This configuration lets the user override the dim level either by moving or pressing a button. The slow ramp can be 30 seconds in this mode or perhaps as short as 10s. This always gives the person in the room time to override the slow dim but still provide enough light to move around the room as needed. The most common case for this is in a room where people might be reading, watching TV or working on a computer where they are not moving very much.

Manual Mode – Parameter 3

Configuration Parameter 3 has three different settings. The default is Occupancy mode which is the most useful and common mode. Vacancy mode only turns the light off but you have to manually turn it on – don’t bother with this mode. The third option is Manual mode which disconnects the motion sensor from the local load. Your Hub has to then turn the light on when the motion sensor detects motion. The time from motion detection to the light coming on has just a little more delay but often this delay isn’t that much. What you gain from this setup is a great deal more flexibility in how the lights should dim up or down.

My Setup

The first motion dimmer I installed was in my mudroom which is pretty much a hallway with a closet but it is an L shape. It is a 3-way switch with wall switches at each of the 3 entrances. Fortunately the switch with the incoming power is the one with the best view down both legs of the L and is where I mounted the motion dimmer. I use Easy Mode in this situation since the desired operation is quite simple. You walk in, the lights come on, you leave and 10 minutes later the lights go off. I suppose I should shorten the Timeout but I’ve never been in the mudroom and had to waive my hands to turn them back on even when rummaging thru the closet where the motion sensor can’t really see me. If I made the timeout shorter, then the lights might go off before I’ve found what I’m looking for. Nothing craters the WAF Factor more than the lights turning off before my wife has found what she’s looking for in the closet!

The next one I installed is in the garage. In this case I used a Motion Switch rather than a Dimmer since its a few bucks cheaper and I don’t need a dimmer in the garage. Easy Mode is fine in this situation. I have a 2 car garage about 24′ square and the motion sensor is able to detect motion of a person just about anywhere in the room even though the wall switch is in the corner next to the door into the mudroom. I did change Motion Sensitivity (Parameter 13) to high to get the entire garage to detect motion. I also enabled Light Sensing (Parameter 14) as my garage has quite a few windows and has plenty of light during the day. There is no way to adjust the level of light to disable the light from turning on but it seems to work when I want it to and doesn’t turn on the lights when the room is sufficiently bright from natural sunlight.

My master bedroom closet seemed like a simple setup but took a little more tweaking. What I want is the light to come on at a low level (say 5%) but if it’s daytime or early evening I want the light to come on fully. With this setup the light is just enough to find my robe in the middle of the night without waking my wife but she can choose an outfit in full illumination. Since the dimmer has no idea what time of day it is, I need to enlist the help of my hub. I set the Switch Level (Parameter 17) to 5% and the Z-Wave Dim Rate (Parameter 8) to 30 seconds. Then I created an event on my hub (Homeseer) that sends an ON command whenever motion is detected and the time is between sunrise and 9pm. This ON command will take 30s to come on fully which is nice. Since the Button Dim rate remains at 3s the buttons operate as normal so if my wife is impatient she can press the top button to quickly get the lights fully on.

My kitchen is the most complicated setup by far. First of all, I have an eat-in kitchen which is pretty wide and the dimmer often doesn’t detect if we are sitting at the table which is at the end of the kitchen. The Jasco Motion sensor is mounted basically in the middle of my kitchen and there are a variety of kitchen appliances on the counter blocking the view of the kitchen table. To cover this wide space I enlist a second motion sensor that is close to the table so even if someone is sitting there quietly, perhaps reading, the combination of the two sensors ensures that the lights only go off when no one is there (most of the time). I use Manual Mode (Parameter 3) in this case and rely on my Hub to combine the 2 sensors readings and control the lights appropriately. Manual Mode effectively disconnects the Jasco Motion Sensor from the Dimmer. When either motion sensor detects motion, I set the dimmer to full on. When BOTH motion sensors have not detected motion for about 20 minutes, then I turn the dimmer off. By relying on the smarts of my Hub I can do even more interesting events where the timeout is different late at night when someone is probably just passing thru and I can use a lower dimmer level. At meal times I push the dimmer fully on as we’re probably preparing food so the more light the better. I could even check for the light level provided by the windows in the room and then only add as much illumination as needed though I haven’t experimented with this yet.


Once you have a few lights automated, you’ll almost never touch the buttons. The lights come on when you walk in and off when everyone leaves. Your family quickly becomes used to it and it blends into the woodwork which is the way things should work. Adding motion sensor lights to your home is an incremental upgrade. I suggest starting with your most-used light such as a hallway or mudroom. Once the family has adjusted to one, you can add more in other locations as the budget allows.

The Jasco Motion Dimmer is a versatile and invaluable home automation device. Never needs batteries and is configurable enough to handle even fairly complicated situations. The trick is to use the right tool for the job. The dimmer is fine for basic operation but use the smarts built into your Hub to do more complicated tasks. Being highly configurable unfortunately results in more complexity but I hope my guide helps you make the most of this device. Let me know what you think and any other Z-Wave related topics you’d like to discuss in the comments below.

How to OTA a co-processor via Z-Wave

You have a second MCU or other data files you want to update using Over-The-Air (OTA) via Z-Wave. How can you reuse the Bootloader firmware to verify the signature and decrypt the data?

The code to verify and decrypt the file already exists in the bootloader and is known good. Reusing the existing bootloader code is smaller and safer than re-inventing the wheel – or in this case encryption.

The attached project is a modified Z-Wave Door Lock Key Pad sample application that demonstrates how to OTA code/data other than the Z-Wave firmware. OTA of the Z-Wave firmware works in the sample application already – but first the encryption keys MUST be generated. See https://www.silabs.com/community/wireless/z-wave/knowledge-base.entry.html/2019/04/09/z-wave_700_ota_ofe-i00M on how to generate the keys. See the two .BAT files in the comments section which will run all the necessary commands for you. They are also included in this .sls file in the KEYS directory. You MUST create your own project keys to OTA either the Z-Wave Firmware or any other data.

To OTA other types of files you need to start with a binary file. Most microprocessor development environments will output a binary file so use that instead of a HEX file. If you have an Intel hex or Mototola S record file, use a utility like SREC_CAT to convert it to a binary file. SREC_CATcan convert just about any file type into any other file type. If the file is more than 200K bytes, you will need to break the file into 200K or smaller files and OTA each, one at a time. Doing that is beyond the scope of this project. Note there is no need to encrypt the file. We will be using Commander to sign and encrypt it using the keys generated here.

Theory of Operation:

Changes to the SSv4 DoorlockKeyPad sample project are indicated with the comment “AKER” – search for these to find what changed. You can also diff the files with a fresh copy of the DoorLockKeyPad sample app from SSv4. Most of the code to support OTA of an external processor is in this file. A few changes have been made to ota_util.c in ZAF_CommandClasses_FirmwareUpdate but these are expected to be included in a future release of the SDK (currently tested on 7.13). 

Commander is used to generate a pair of public and private keys. The private key is then programmed into every device to be OTAed. Commander then encrypts and signs the binary file and wraps it with bootloader tokens. The gbl file is downloaded, the signature checked and the encrypted data is then passed to a callback function 64 bytes at a time. You then have to store the data or pass it to the external MCU. This example simply prints the data out a UART.


Step 1: Generate the keys

There two .BAT files in the KEYS directory for this project. These are windows script files. For other platforms you can easily convert them to the platform specific commands. See the comments in the files for more details. In a windows shell type:
This will use Commander to generate a project set of keys in the files vendor_*.*. Only execute this command ONCE. The same keys are used for the duration of the project. If you change the keys then you cannot OTA the devices as the keys no longer match.

Step 2: Program the key into a devkit and every DUT

Each device manufactured must have the private key programmed into FLASH. Use the PgmToken.bat to program the key into a target device connected via USB. Note that EVERY unit manufactured must have these keys programmed into it.

Step 3: Generate the .gbl file

Create the .gbl file from the binary file using the following command:
   commander gbl create <OTA_FileName>.gbl –metadata <BinaryFile> –sign vendor_sign.key –encrypt vendor_encrypt.key
The –metadata option will wrap the binary data with the necessary tokens for the bootloader to parse the data. Do not use the –compress option. If the data needs to be compressed, use your own algorithm for that. There are 3 sample binary files in the KEYS directory – a small .WAV audio file, a large .M4A audio file and a PNG image file. Use the command above to wrap the file with the necessary tokens for OTA.

 Step 4: OTA the .gbl file

Use the PC Controller or other application to send the gbl file over Z-Wave. Once the entire file has been sent and the CRC checked to be good, the FinishFwUpdate function is called to begin processing the image. Note that in the PCC you have to first GET the Current Firmware, then select the Target: 1 to download the metadata. Then click on UPDATE and the OTA will begin. Connect a terminal to the VCOM port of the WSTK to view the data streaming down during the OTA. Once all the data is sent down, the signature is checked and the decrypted data is sent out the UART. This is where you would need to change the code to store the data instead of printing it out the UART.

Step 5: Verify the Signature and pass in the callback function

The bootloader_verifyImage() function is called and the metadataCallback function is passed in. bootloader_verifyImage first returns a zero if the signature matches. If the signature fails an error value is returned giving some details on why it failed. The time to verify the signature can be fairly long depending on the size of the image so the watchdog timer is disabled during the processing.

Step 6: MetadataCallback passes blocks of 64 bytes of the decrypted data

The function passed in to bootloader_verifyImage is called with a pointer to the data and the number of bytes in each block. The size of the block can vary up to 64 bytes. In this example the data is simply printed out the UART. In your application you would replace this function with code to store the data as needed on the other MCU or external NVM.

Step 7: Reboot

It is recommended to reboot after the image data has been stored to ensure the FLASH is cleaned up properly. The current demo however does not reboot.

Note: This is an SSv4 SDK 7.13 sample but the same concepts should work in SSv5. The changes to ota_util.c will be folded into the SDK in a future release but for now those changes are necessary.

The code example can be downloaded from the Silicon Labs web site at: https://www.silabs.com/community/wireless/z-wave/knowledge-base.entry.html/2020/09/23/ota_a_co-processororotherdataviaz-wave-GDap

ZGM130 GPIO Decoder Ring

One of the challenges with using the Z-Wave developers kit is trying to figure out which pin is connected to what. Every pin of the ZGM130S can perform multiple functions but some pins are best used for certain things. This guide provides general recommendations, but these are not hard-and-fast rules. The ZGM130S provides a great deal of flexibility so feel free to explore the many options each pin and peripheral has to offer. I’m hoping I can guide you with some initial suggestions but feel free to delve into the details to find your ideal solution.

This guide is a compilation of a number of documents and while I’ve been thorough, I could easily have made a typo here or there. Please use the online documentation as the official reference and send me an email pointing out my error and I’ll fix it. I couldn’t possibly include every feature for every pin but the details are available in the reference documents below. The Decoder Ring below is an overview of the most commonly used features. The table below contains a lot of information, so you’ll need to view it on a computer with a big screen.

Reference Documents

ZGM130S        ZGM130S Datasheet – See section 6 for the pin definitions
EFR32XG13    Gecko Family Reference Manual – Each peripheral is detailed here
UG381             ZGM130S Zen Gecko DevKit Users Guide – Section 3 describes connectors

ZGM130S GPIO Decoder Table

ZGM130SGPIO port as described in the ZGM130S data sheet
Pin #GPIO pin number of the ZGM130S SIP package
BRD4202AZen Gecko Developers kit board for the ZGM130S
BRD8029AButton/LED board plugged into the WSTK EXP header for the sample apps
WSTK EXPPin number of the main WSTK board expansion header
WSTKMain developers kit board with USB, LCD and Segger J-link debugger
 The Pxx pins are the holes across the long side of the board
 The Fxx pins are secondary functions that typically connect to the isolators
MiniDBGSmall 20 pin ribbon cable used to connect WSTK to a target DUT
ALT FUNCSAlternate functions the GPIO can perform. All GPIOs can be simple digital 1/0s.
 Some pins have special analog or peripheral functions.
CommentsBrief comments describing special functions of the GPIO
Description of the columns in the table below

General Purpose IOs – Use these for your application first

  P32  LED ON=low, Pullup Ideal for PWM
  P34  LED ON=low, Pullup
  P36  LED ON=low, Pullup
 EXP4P1 F16  Easy to use with WSTK since they are on EXP
PC759P201-6 EXP6P3   
BUTN0EXP7P4 F12   
 EXP8P5 F15   
PB1446P201-30  P27  LFXO – 32Khz osc crystal for accurate time
PB1547P201-32  P29  LFXO
PD926P201-33  P30   
  P25 F11   
  P31 F18 OPA1PUse for Analog functions
PD1534P201-38  P35 OPA1N 
PA439P201-17  P14 OPA0N 
  P16 F5  VCOM_ENB Must be 1 for WSTK to pass USART0 to USB

Special Function Pins – Use these for their alternate function

PC1062P201-15BUTN2EXP15P12 EM4WU12 I2C1_SDAEM4WU pins are the ONLY pins that will wakeup from EM4
PC1163P201-16BUTN3EXP16P13 I2C1_SCLUse for I2C, will NOT wakeup from EM4
PD1431P201-36 P200-30  P33 F17 OPA1 EM4WU4 
PF79P201-9 P200-26BUTN1EXP9P6 F13 EM4WU1 
PA338P201-5 P200-22LED3EXP5P2 F9 VDAC0 OPA0 EM4WU8 
PB1141P201-21 P200-34  P18 F21 OPA2P
PB1242P201-23 P200-33  P20 F2010OPA2PTI_DATA Future Packet Trace debug
PB1345P201-25 P200-32  P22 F199OPA2N EM4WU9PTI_SYNC Always wire the 2 PTI pins on the ZG14 modem chip to GPIOs on your host CPU

Fixed Function Pins – Reserved for debug

  P28 F26EM4WU0SWO
RST_N15P200-17  F4 SW1023 RESET button next to EXP header
ANT23SMA or PCB     Radio Antenna Move cap R2 for PCB

Power Pins

VSS GND1,10,11,
32,33,43, 48,49,51,
    2 Ground 0 Volts
AVDD44      Analog Power 1.8-3.8V
1V850      Leave unconnected
VREG VDD52      DCDC Reg input
Tie to AVDD
2.4V min for DCDC
DECO UPLE56      No-Connect
IOVDD57      Digital IO Power 1.62V-VREGVDD AVDD>=IOVDD
     VAEM1 DUT Power

EXP Port on the WSTK

LED2P0 (PA2)34P1(PC6) 
BUTN1P6(PF7)910P7(PC9)SW Pull up/dn
P100 connects to the Button/LED BRD8029A

WSTK = hole name (ZGM130 GPIO)
EX: WSTK P100 pin 16 is hole P13, ZGM130S GPIO PC11, Button 3 on the BRD8029A
BRD8029A is the Button/LED board. Functionality is:
LEDs are ON when driven high
BUTN pins are pulled up and go low when the button is pressed
The SW can pull the pin either up or down depending on the slide setting
left/on is 1, right/off is 0 thru 1MOhm resistors
The VMCU powers the LEDs/Buttons but the board ID is powered via pin 20
Schematic is in Simplicity Studio

Mini-Simplicity Debug header: Top View

NamePin #Pin #Name

On the DUT board with the ZGM130S on it, connect VCOM_RX to PA1 and VCOM_TX to PA0. The header is a 0.05” pitch 10 pin header. Typically use a Samtec FTSH-110 but to make the pads even smaller use just the pads for a thru-hole connector. See my post “700 series Debug Header” from October 2019 for more details on the debug header.


Remember that the GPIOs in all the Wireless Gecko chips from Silicon Labs are very flexible and most peripheral functions can be routed to almost any IO pin. That said, there are some pins that have fixed functions and some pins are best at certain other functions. Let’s start with the pins you can’t use.

Power Pins

Obviously, the power pins have to be connected to the proper voltage. The ZGM130 has a lot of ground pins so make sure every one of them is connected to a solid ground. The voltages for the power pins have a few rules but in most cases you’ll tie AVDD and VREGVDD to the same power source of 3.3V. The on-chip DC to DC regulator allows a wide voltage range on VREGVDD so there is some additional flexibility which requires careful consideration. But for most applications, tie these two power pins directly to the battery. Most of the time IOVDD is also tied to the battery though depending on other chips in your system you might need an LDO to keep the IOs at the proper voltage.

Debug Pins

The next set of pins you should not use for GPIOs are the debug pins. All ten IO pins on the Mini-Simplicity header should be wired up as shown in the table above. The UART pins are very important to print out debug information while the chip is running. The advantage here is that you can see things happening in real-time without using a scope or logic analyzer. And you can easily enable/disable blocks of debug statements as needed. The sample apps print all sorts of debug information so you’ll want to do the same in your code. The UART defaults to only 115200 baud but it’s easy to increase it up to roughly 1Mbaud to reduce the time impact of printing debug messages. Also, keep the messages short or else they may impact the timing so much that your code will fail. If you’re really in a pinch for one more IO, you could use the SWO or VCOM_RX pins as you probably don’t need them.

Special Function Pins

A number of pins have specific functions especially for certain analog functions. The ADC/DAC only have their primary and alternate IOs though you can route them thru the ABUS. Only a few of these pins can wake the chip from sleeping in EM4. Be very careful and utilize these pins for buttons or sensors that need to wake the chip up.

General Purpose IOs  

The rest of the pins are available for any purpose. Most of the pins can be any digital IO function. Some pins are handy because of their connection on the DevKit. There are three IOs connected to an RGB LED on the 4202 board. These are really handy to visually observe PWM waveforms based on the color of the LED. The pins that are routed to the EXP header on the WSTK are easy to connect to a proto board. Be careful to avoid using PA5 as that is connected to the VCOM enable pin on the WSTK. PA5 has to be high to route the debug UART data to the USB bus. But this is a restriction only when using the DevKit 4202 board. If connecting to your own PCB via the Mini-Simplicity header you can freely use PA5.


The ZGM130S is a flexible chip with plenty of compute power, RAM and Flash. The GPIOs can largely be routed from any peripheral to any IO though there are some restrictions. The secret decoder ring given here maps out which pin can do what and which ones should be used for your application. This is only a guide and the chip has many more features than I can describe here. Refer to the Reference Documents for more in depth knowledge.

700 Series Debug Header

We’re all trying to make the Smart Home products smaller and less visible. Using coin cells instead of bulky cylindrical batteries significantly reduces the size of many products. The challenge with making products smaller is that the area available on the PCB for a debug header is in short supply.

With the 500 series I usually used a 0.1″ spacing 12 pin header from the ZDP03A programmer to the target board. The header was normally not installed in the final product but for debug purposes the solid thru-hole connector meant I would reliably program a device the first time and every time.

However, many customers I’ve worked with want to use less PCB real estate which means they come up with a custom set of test points. Typically a jig with spring loaded pins are used to contact to the PCB or more often wires are soldered to the PCB. The problem with this solution is that the jig is large, expensive and fragile. Soldering a cable to a board often results in a fragile connection where the cable can easily break a pin and not be immediately obvious. I’ve spent far too much time trying to figure out why I could program the part a minute ago but now I can’t only to realize the cable has a loose wire.

Nasty unreliable hand-soldered fragile Z-Wave debugging cable
Unreliable Z-Wave programming cable

500 Series Header

My recommendation for the 500 series is to use a full size 12 pin 0.1″ spacing connector for programming and debug. Either SMT or thru-hole is fine but either way you have a solid, reliable, portable connection. While this worked OK with the 500 series which typically used large cylindrical batteries, the 700 series often uses coin cells which doesn’t have the real estate for a full size connector.

Reliable 500 series header = 15x5mm

700 Series Debug Header

Fortunately Silicon Labs has an even better solution for the 700 series – use a 0.05″ spacing 10 pin SMT header. The Mini Simplicity Debug connector is described in AN958. If you have a little room then use the standard SMT header which is 6x6mm. If you are very tight on real estate then put down the pads for the thru-hole version of the connector but hand-solder the thru-hole header to the pads. Using just the pads results in a header only 3x6mm. You can’t tell me you can’t come up with 18sqmm to make the PCB debug reliable!

Either solution requires only a small amount of space on a single side of the PCB. Usually the header pads can be under a coin cell since during debug a power supply is used instead of the battery. This same header can be used for production programming using a jig to contact to the pads. Having a standard and reliable connection to the PCB will save you time during debug and on the production floor.

Reliable 700 series header = 6x6mm


No matter how tempted you might be to come up with your own cable/connector/test points, DON’T DO IT! Use the standard Mini Simplicity connector to save you so many headaches during debug. A solid, reliable debug connection is an absolute must otherwise you risk spinning your wheels chasing ghosts that are caused by a flakey connector. Take it from me, I’ve tried to debug just way too many of these over the years and it is not fun.