Using Particle Mesh Devices with the OpenThread Border Router

I am trying to use my Raspberry PI3 and/or Linux laptop as an Open Thread Border Router, to connect my particle devices together, but the online examples are all for dev boards.

@jberi you seem active on the github site at

I have the docker up and running and assume things wont work, but, on the off chance that it is easy to connect an Argon to the Docker container I need a Docker run command that would work for a Particle device.

The example here shows their dev environment (super easy :frowning_face:) Docker run command:

docker run --sysctl "net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6=0
net.ipv4.conf.all.forwarding=1 net.ipv6.conf.all.forwarding=1"
-p 8080:80 --dns= -it --volume
/dev/ttyACM0:/dev/ttyACM0 --privileged openthread/otbr
--ncp-path /dev/ttyACM0

I think the above command loads a webpage that allows extra data entry to setup your Thread.

If someone can give me some suggestions, I don't mind trying to figure out the rest. I don't think scanning the scancode will work but perhaps direct entering the digits on the label below the scancode might work.

Full Mesh experience blog at High School Robotics Course using the Mesh Devices Blog

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How are you connecting the RPi3 to the particle mesh? The RPi3 doesn’t seem to have the required RF radio, nor would your laptop… Unless I misunderstand the Particle mesh components. Although particle mesh runs on a 2.4GHz radio, the mesh protocol is 802.15.4 and WiFi is 802.11.

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I was afraid of that. Kind of expected it would setup a wifi hotspot or bluetooth to make the connection. The Android dev kits are definitely setup using serial.

See this link for wifi.

Or this one for serial.

Just found this link about a nRF52840 Micro Dev Kit USB Dongle

Not really expecting it to work, just thought I would ask. Kind of the point of using an Open Source networking protocol is that you can connect in multiple ways.

Hi @rocksetta! I was active on borderrouter because I use to be the Product Manager @ Nest/Google :smiley:

You’re entering uncharted territory and we have no immediate plans to support using borderrouter in a Particle Mesh network. But looking forward to learning more about what you try/learn!


I looked for the nRF52840 Micro Dev Kit USB Dongle but found this for $15.00 seeed-studio-nRF52840-Development-Platform , since it is USB would that make a radio connection with my laptop? Could an Argon with a serial connection to the laptop do the same thing?

Thanks for replying

I checked out the dongle. The descriptions says 802.15.4 so it is plausible that it would enable your laptop to communicate with the mesh network. That's where my knowledge ends. Like @jberi said, that's uncharted territory outside from maybe the engineers. What is intriguing is that dongle might make it feasible to run the thread topology tool so you can visualize the network and how the nodes connect to each other. The same notion has been brought up before:

In theory, the device could be used to sniff a thread mesh network… in theory. However, the Particle traffic will appear as encrypted data on top of that. It is worth investigating for sure.

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Also, you should probably stick with the authentic Nordic USB dongle. The seeed/Amazon link looks like a knock off of the original, is more expensive by $5 and shipping is $12. Digikey is out of stock but Mouser has some for $10 USD:


@ninjatill, the SeeedStudio one may be pre-programmed to simplify using it as a sniffer.

My suggestion was based on the Nordic Thread Topology Monitor documentation from the link in the other thread. It says the hardware requirements are the Nordic Dev Kit. But on the Dev Kit page, it says the dongles are stripped down dev kits. Looks like Nordic already has some pre-built firmware for this type of tool. Either way… still interesting.


From the other link.

Other docs

A github

A tutorial. Have a good look at this tutorial it seems to have lots of information

Here is the seed studio main page for the dongle

The Nordic dongle communicates using USB serial since openThread is pre-installed on it.

I can’t help thinking that the Argon should be able to communicate using Putty and the Argon serial port, since OpenThread is pre-installed on the Argon.

The OpenThread API on the Argon is probably not available to serial communication and I definitely do not want to go into DFU mode and flash different code to the Argon. Anyone got any ideas if serial communication with the Argon could access any openThread API commands? @ScruffR you know your stuff, any ideas if we can use a serial port to communicate with OpenThread?

The topology monitor seems to be only for a mesh made up of specific nRF52840 Preview Development Kits. The sniffer, which uses the USB dongle, only works on Linux.

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@rocksetta, at some point, Particle will need to expose some of the mesh management and measurement Nordic API to the user. This would be needed, for example, to set a repeater/non-repeater role. I have not idea when Particle might do this however.


Nordic has a ton of Android Apps at

any idea which would be applicable with this dongle? I think perhaps the connect for mobile and the nrf Mesh

I just ordered a Nordic USB dongle which I will play with over Xmas.


The Xbee3 radios can communicate via Thread also so maybe there are tools or info sniffing tools for that network that could also be helpful with what your trying to do here.

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Found this video about the main types of mesh networks.

@rwb any idea if the Xbee3 have a usb version of their board.



Found this XBee Explorer USB Dongle Does not mention OpenThread so not sure if it is relevant.

Another nice tutorial How to Get Started With OpenThread | by jaredwolff | Medium

@rocksetta I could have swore I saw Thread as a network topology choice in their advertising but now I can’t find much on it.

The links for Thread on their website has been removed for some reason.

They do have a Thread ready RF module here: Digi XBee and XBee-PRO Zigbee RF Modules | Digi International

Seems like they are moving away from Thread for some reason.

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I have been looking at the OpenThread Github and I am surprised how un-userfriendly it is. Most github files have easy to understand installation instructions, and a bit about the API or at least a link to some kind of an easy to understand API. They have tutorials but I can't find much on an API.

The problem with using an open source protocol is if the protocol changes you have to change with it, (I was making tutorials on deepLearning.js when it got absorbed by Google and became tensorflowjs, that one change made my tutorials obsolete, without a ton of work to get caught up.) Digi is in the nice situation of having their own protocol and a method to work with Thread protocol.

Would be very cool to make a video like the above one with Particle products talking to Digi own protocol and Thread products.