Mesh networking

mbed OS provides two types of IPv6 based mesh networks:

  • 6LoWPAN_ND, loosely following Zigbee-IP specification.
  • Thread, following specification from Thread Group.

One stack, called Nanostack, provides both protocols. For more information about stack internals, refer to Nanostack’s documentation. Application developers use Nanostack through mbed Mesh API.

mbed Mesh API

ARM mbed mesh API allows the client to use the IPv6 mesh network.

The client can use the LoWPANNDInterface or ThreadInterface object for connecting to the mesh network. When successfully connected, the client can create a socket by using the mbed socket API to start communication with a remote peer.

Supported mesh networking modes

Currently, supported mesh networking modes include 6LoWPAN-ND (neighbor discovery) and Thread bootstrap modes.

Module Configuration

This module supports static configuration via mbed configuration system by using the mbed_app.json file. The application needs to create the configuration file if you want to use settings other than the default settings.

An example of the configuration file:

    "target_overrides": {
        "*": {
            "target.features_add": ["IPV6"],
            "mbed-mesh-api.6lowpan-nd-channel": 12,
            "mbed-mesh-api.6lowpan-nd-channel-mask": "(1<<12)",
            "mbed-mesh-api.heap-size": 10000

Configurable parameters in section mbed-mesh-api

Parameter name Value Description
heap-size number [0-0xfffe] Nanostack’s internal heap size
Parameter name Value Description
thread-pskd string [6-255 chars] Human-scaled commissioning credentials.
thread-config-channel-mask number [0-0x07fff800] Channel mask, 0x07fff800 scans all channels.
thread-config-channel-page number [0, 2] Channel page, 0 for 2,4 GHz and 2 for sub-GHz radios.
thread-config-channel number [0-27] RF channel to use.
thread-config-panid number [0-0xFFFF] Network identifier.
thread-master-key byte array [16] Network master key.
thread-config-ml-prefix byte array [8] Mesh local prefix.
thread-config-pskc byte array [16] Pre-shared key (PSK) for the Commissioner.
Parameter name Type Description
6lowpan-nd-channel-mask number [0-0x07fff800] Channel mask, bit-mask of channels to use.
6lowpan-nd-channel-page number [0, 2] 0 for 2,4 GHz and 2 for sub-GHz radios.
6lowpan-nd-channel number [0-27] RF channel to use when channel_mask is not defined.
6lowpan-nd-panid-filter number [0-0xffff] Beacon PAN ID filter, 0xffff means no filtering.
6lowpan-nd-security-mode “NONE” or “PSK” To use either no security, or pre-shared network key.
6lowpan-nd-psk-key-id number PSK key id when PSK is enabled.
6lowpan-nd-psk-key byte array [16] Pre-shared network key.
6lowpan-nd-sec-level number [1-7] Network security level. Use default 5.
6lowpan-nd-device-type “NET_6LOWPAN_ROUTER” or “NET_6LOWPAN_HOST” Device mode. Router is routing packets from other device, creating a mesh network.

Getting started

See the example application mbed-os-example-mesh-minimal for usage.

Usage example for 6LoWPAN ND mode

Create a network interface and driver objects.

LoWPANNDInterface mesh;
NanostackRfPhyXX rf_phy;

Initialize interface with given PHY driver.


Then connect to network:

    if (mesh.connect()) {
        printf("Connection failed!\r\n");
        return -1;

    printf("connected. IP = %s\r\n", mesh.get_ip_address());

Usage example for 6LoWPAN Thread mode

This is similar to that for ND, but the network interface uses a different class:

ThreadInterface mesh;