NTS News Center

Latest News in Testing, Inspection and Certification

NTS News Center - Latest News in Testing, Inspection and Certification

NTS Releases RC2Test harness for ZigBee Remote Control 2.0

NTS has announced the release of our NTS RC2Test test harness for the development, certification, and pre-testing of ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 (ZRC2) devices.

The RC2Test is the first tool available for the ZRC2 specification and was used to validate ZigBee’s test specifications, as well as the Golden Units for the ZigBee Remote Control 2.0 specification. These Golden Units are the reference devices by which all future ZRC2 devices will be compared for interoperability and conformance.

RC2Test provides manufacturers with a test tool that emulates the various ZigBee Remote Control devices, as well as scripts used to validate a device to the ZRC2 application profile. It includes the ability to write your own test scripts, making it flexible and expandable to cover more than just ZigBee required tests. Prior to submitting a product for certification, you can utilize the same tool used internally by NTS in the performance of ZigBee certification tests.


Check out this short video of one of our test harnesses!

ZigBee Remote Control provides a global standard for easy-to-use RF remotes that remove line-of-sight restrictions, while also delivering two-way communication, longer range of use and extended battery life. It offers more flexibility such as control of devices from nearby rooms and placement of those devices almost anywhere – including behind wood, interior walls or glass. It was designed for a variety of consumer electronic devices including HDTV, home theater equipment, set-top boxes and other audio equipment.

NTS-AT encourages you to contact us should you have any questions about the test harness, ZigBee certification, or your product development. Call 800.879.9225 or visit the NTS-AT website for more information.

NTS Selected by PG&E as First Provider of ZigBee HAN Device Validation Testing

NTS was recently chosen by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as the first outside lab to provide validation testing of HAN (Home Area Network) devices for use with PG&E’s SmartMeters™.


Infographic from PGE.com

HAN In-Home Display devices show how much electricity is being used in real-time to help consumers make educated choices in their energy use. Based on a PG&E-developed procedure, NTS is testing these devices to verify that they can correctly communicate with the PG&E SmartMeter.

The test is performed using actual PG&E SmartMeters installed in the NTS Advanced Technology facility specifically for this purpose.

If you are a device manufacturer looking to get a product validated for PG&E the following is a list of high-level steps you must complete:

  • Download the Joint CA IOU Application form from PGE.com and send the completed copy to HANvalidation@pge.com. All products tested for PG&E validation will require prior certification to the ZigBee Smart Energy standard.
  • PG&E will let the device manufacturer know via email if the application was/was not accepted.  If the application is accepted, the email will instruct the vendor to contact NTS at pgehan@nts.com for information on testing, including the necessary contract and payment for testing, as well as shipping information.
  • NTS will then conduct testing of the device manufacturer’s product and provide a Test Report back to PG&E.
  • PG&E will then review the Test Report & notify the device manufacturer if their product has successfully completed testing.

Products which successfully complete testing are listed on PG&E’s website.

National Technical Systems (NTS) Completes ZigBee Smart Energy Certification Testing for SimpleHomeNet Appliance

National Technical Systems (NTS) Completes ZigBee Smart Energy Certification Testing for SimpleHomeNet Appliance
Rapidly Expanding Smart Grid Compliance Testing Market Is Key NTS Initiative

CALABASAS, Calif., June 4, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –National Technical Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: NTSC) (NTS), a leading provider of engineering services, announced today that it recently completed ZigBee Smart Energy certification testing for a feature-rich, wireless electric load controller manufactured by SimpleHomeNet, a division of Compacta International. The tests were run at the NTS laboratory in Culver City, CA. Following completion of the certification tests, the ZigBee Alliance reviewed the test results submitted by NTS and the application submitted by SimpleHomeNet and certified the load controller.
NTS is the market leader in ZigBee smart energy certification testing and one of only three companies worldwidewith rights designated by the ZigBee Alliance to test wireless products for ZigBee Smart Energy certification. Completion of the certification tests for SimpleHomeNet is another example of NTS’ expanding leadership in the burgeoning testing market for ZigBee Smart Energy.
ZigBee Smart Energy is the market leading wireless home area network (HAN) standard with more than 40 million smart meters being installed around the world. Last year, it was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as an initial interoperable standard for HAN devices. ZigBee has also been adopted by over 350 global manufacturers andthere is a large total potential market of 1.5 billion devices that could be installed in homes worldwide for energy management and demand response, according to a recently published report by ON World.
Smart energy device testing is a rapidly expanding global industry and a growing market for NTS,said NTS Chief Executive Office William McGinnis. The U.S. Department of Energy has allocated $30 billion as part of a national energy initiative backed by national utility companies, which is expected toencourage the development and certification of a broad range of smart energy products McGinnis said.
ZigBee Smart Energy certification demonstrates that a wireless product such as a load controller, or other wireless device, is compliant with the ZigBee Smart Energy standard that was created by energy experts and ZigBee Alliance members. ZigBee members include Ember, Freescale, Texas Instruments, Landis & Gyr, Itron, Cisco, General Electric, Honeywell, Intel, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Philips, Samsung Electronics, Siemens, Sony and many other leading corporations around the world.
“This is already a large, rapidly growing market and an expanding list of companies is committed to the smart energy path, which we believe is a good opportunity for us,” McGinnis added. “We not only provide the test services, but we also design the test tools to simulate the functions of the appliances that allow our clients to do self-testing. We have a full solution for our clients with software testing and validation and multiple engineering services.”
Remotely controlled, wireless appliances such as thermostats, meters, load controllers, pool pumps, water heaters and display units designed for homeowners as part of a HAN are key components of a smart grid created to reduce energy usage, increase reliability and cut costs for consumers, said NTS Chief Technology Officer Osman Sakr. The NTS testing demonstrates that the appliances work together properly and can accurately show how much energy is being used, thereby allowing a consumer to manage energy efficiently.
Al Choperena, President and CEO of Compacta International, said the NTS testing and ZigBee Smart Energy certification of its load controller “is a key milestone in our ZigBee product roadmap and signals our strong commitment to the future of the smart grid. To date, our certification efforts have been on track thanks to our ongoing partnership with NTS.”

Atmel Receives ZigBee RF4CE Platform Certification Using ATmega128RFA1

Enables faster, more reliable RF remotes and provides freedom to operate devices Removing ‘line-of-sight’ barrier of today’s infrared remotes

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — CES — Atmel® Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML), a leader in touch- and microcontroller-based solutions, today announced that Atmel’s RF4Control platform has received ZigBee® RF4CE certification using the new ATmega128RFA1 wireless AVR® microcontroller. Atmel can now offer its customers an immediate, low-cost, easy-to-implement solution for various remote control applications using the ATmega128RFA1.

The ZigBee RF4CE specification is a standardized specification for radio frequency (RF) remote controls promoted by the ZigBee Alliance. The specification enables flexible control from nearby rooms, enables unique two-way communications between the remote and device, and delivers improved remote battery life for a variety of consumer electronic (CE) devices such as HDTV, home theater equipment, set-top boxes and other audio equipment.

“We are pleased to be among the first to have our wireless platform ZigBee RF4CE certified,” said Magnus Pedersen, product marketing director of MCU wireless solutions at Atmel Corporation. “With this certification, Atmel’s recently launched ATmega128RFA1 can now offer customers more flexibility, reliability and freedom to operate their devices from greater distances. The two-way communication between the device and remote, and by removing the ‘line-of-site’ barrier, enables our consumers to enjoy an even richer experience.”

“The certification of Atmel’s RF4Control platform is another step towards spreading ZigBee’s reach in homes everywhere,” said Benno Ritter, vice president of marketing for the ZigBee Alliance. “ZigBee RF4CE will offer manufacturers a number of advanced remote control features while offering increased flexibility and ease of use.”

“As the authorized ZigBee test lab, we are pleased to certify Atmel’s ATmega128RFA1 to develop products based on the RF4CE standard,” said Osman Sakr, chief technology officer of National Technical Systems Inc. “We look forward to testing more products and platforms to move towards interoperable RF products across multiple vendors based on this new standard.”

More Information

For more information about Atmel’s ZigBee RF4CE solutions, please click the following link: http://www.atmel.com/RF4CE.

For additional information on Atmel’s wireless microcontrollers, please click the following link: http://www.atmel.com/wireless.

ZigBee: Control your world

ZigBee is the global wireless language connecting dramatically different devices to work together and enhance everyday life. The ZigBee Alliance is a non-profit association of more than 300 member companies driving development of ZigBee wireless technology. The Alliance promotes worldwide adoption of ZigBee as the leading wirelessly networked, sensing and control standard for use in consumer electronic, energy, home, commercial and industrial areas. For more information, visit: http://www.ZigBee.org.

About NTS

National Technical Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of engineering and testing service to the defense, aerospace, telecommunications, automotive and high technology markets. Through a world-wide network of resources, NTS provides full life-cycle product integrity support, offering world class design engineering, compliance, testing, certification, quality registration and program management. For additional information about NTS, visit our website at http://www.ntscorp.com/ or call 800-794-0926.

About Atmel

Atmel is a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of capacitive touch solutions, microcontrollers, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components. Leveraging one of the industry’s broadest intellectual property (IP) technology portfolios, Atmel is able to provide the electronics industry with complete system solutions focused on consumer, industrial, security, communications, computing and automotive markets.

From http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/atmel-receives-zigbee-rf4ce-platform-certification-using-atmega128rfa1-80893507.html

NTS Begins Testing for ZigBee RF4CE Specification

National Technical Systems Inc (NTS) has begun ZigBee testing for RF4CE platforms. The new RF4CE test program will verify functionality and interoperability of the ZigBee RF4CE across multiple vendors, with product-level certification testing soon to follow. Testing of the specification will allow manufacturers to quickly and easily develop interoperable products based on the standard.

Culver City, CA (PRWEB) June 8, 2009 — National Technical Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:NTSC) (NTS), a leading provider of quality, conformance and certification testing, quality registration and managed services, announced today that it has kicked off its testing program for the ZigBee RF4CE specification.

The ZigBee RF4CE specification was designed for radio-frequency based remote controls, providing a low power solution that removes line-of-sight issues commonly associated with typical consumer remotes. NTS has been working with the ZigBee RF4CE Special Interest Group (SIG) for several months on a defined test standard that would allow for low-cost compliance verification of remote controls and “targets” (e.g., TVs, stereos, CD players, etc.). In addition, the standard allows for two-way communications (between remote and target, or even target to target) for a better consumer experience.

The RF4CE test program will verify functionality and interoperability of the ZigBee RF4CE platforms across multiple vendors, with product-level certification testing soon to follow. Testing of the specification will allow manufacturers to quickly and easily develop interoperable products based on the standard.

“NTS has been an authorized ZigBee test lab for many years, and we are pleased that we will be performing testing for the new consumer electronics standard for ZigBee members,” said Osman Sakr, NTS CTO. “ZigBee RF4CE will open up an entirely new market to the benefits of ZigBee technology, and we are looking forward to being part of the radio-frequency remote revolution.”

“Working with an experienced certification provider, like NTS, has allowed us to offer a meaningful, cost-effective certification program, so that ZigBee members can get ZigBee RF4CE products to market quickly,” said Bob Heile, Chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “We look forward to continuing to work with NTS on ZigBee public profile certifications.”

“NTS has been a great contributor in the timely completion of the ZigBee RF4CE certification program,” commented Victor Berrios, chairman of the ZigBee RF4CE compliance working group. “Their experience in testing and input to the working group was a valuable resource when working on the program.”

ZigBee RF4CE: More flexibility and control

The ZigBee RF4CE specification is based on IEEE 802.15.4. MAC/PHY radio technology in the 2.4GHz unlicensed frequency band and enables worldwide operation, low power consumption and instantaneous response time. It allows omni-directional and reliable two-way wireless communication, frequency agility for enhanced co-existence with other 2.4GHz wireless technologies, simple security set-up and configuration. During the next quarter, the Alliance will develop a test program consistent with existing policies for specifications and public application profiles. Once complete, products using a public application profile based on the ZigBee RF4CE specification can be submitted to an authorized test house for certification.

via NTS Begins Testing for ZigBee RF4CE Specification

Golden Unit Reference Logs for ZigBee

ZigBee Golden UnitMany of you who are trying to get your ZigBee product (Platform, Smart Energy, MSP or other) ready for certification might be confused with all the documents to read – the specifications, the appendices, errata, etc. All you want is to run the tests and make sure the behavior is what it’s expected to be before you go to get your product certified. In ZigBee, like in many other standards, the easiest way to do that is to emulate the Golden Unit (GU) behavior. They are, after all, the reference and they are what the tests run against so why not just do as they do?

Unfortunately, the GU’s might be a little hard to obtain. The manufacturers rarely give them out, and when they do, it’s usually at a pretty hefty price. Fear not! The Alliance has made available, through authorized test labs, the logs for those GUs. What does this mean to you? Well, now you can get these logs and just compare them to what you are observing on your own devices. Since the tests for ZigBee are conducted over the air, if you ensure that the behaviors are similar, your chances of success in certification will be pretty high. From there on, all that will be left to do is correct a few small glitches, if any, once you start your official certification testing.

802.15.4 Compliance for ZigBee Certification

ZigBee Board

If you’re looking to get any platform, product, etc. ZigBee certified, you probably know that you need to check for 802.15.4 compliance before you move on to the higher layers. However did you know that ZigBee does not mandate the implementation of the full 802.15.4 MAC layer? Some functions of the 802.15.4 MAC are actually even prohibited in ZigBee and their use will cause your platform to be non-compliant. This not only reduces the testing you have to do, but also reduces code size and complexity that is not needed for your stack. Features such as GTS, MAC security, beacon networking, and PAN ID conflict on the MAC layer are just thrown out. In other words, ZigBee will only ask that you test a relatively small portion of the 802.15.4 MAC which should come as good news to all of you out there worrying about fitting all of this code in small memory chips to cut cost!