Latest development kits support Bluetooth Smart, ANT, and 2.4GHz designs

31 October 2014

Nordic Semiconductor introduces the low-cost nRF51 DK development kit, coming in Arduino Uno shield-compatible single-board form factor.

It supports a broad range of third-party Arduino shield expansion boards and provides maximum flexibility for product development with all key ULP wireless technologies. The kit also supports ARM mbed for rapid prototyping and development.

The kit provides fast, easy, and flexible development of Bluetooth Smart, ANT/ANT+, and 2.4GHz proprietary applications. Nordic has also announced the launch of the nRF51 Dongle, a highly versatile USB dongle to aid test, analysis, and development of Bluetooth Smart, ANT, and 2.4GHz applications.
The nRF51 DK is based on Nordic's nRF51 series System-on-Chip (SoC), a highly-integrated transceiver that combines a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 processor, 128 or 256kB flash memory, and 16 or 32kB RAM. The SoC can support a wide range of peripherals and is available in quad flat no-lead (QFN) and wafer level chip scale package (WLCSP) options. The SoCs can support a range of SoftDevices for Bluetooth Smart, ANT, 2.4GHz proprietary, and even combinations of these protocols on a single device.
The nRF51 DK is compatible with the Arduino Uno connector standard enabling use with a broad range of third-party Arduino shield expansion boards. It allows access to all device peripherals, interfaces, and I/Os. In addition, it features four user-programmable buttons and LEDS plus voltage and current pins to measure device power consumption.
The nRF51 Dongle is a compact USB-connectable dongle that can be used for standard software development on the nRF51 series SoCs. It features a user-programmable button and an RGB LED and is especially useful when used in conjunction with Nordic's nRF Sniffer and Master Control Panel (MCP) firmware and software. nRF Sniffer is a utility available as a download from Nordic and when used in conjunction with the nRF51 DK can capture Bluetooth Smart packets over the air. The information can then be viewed and analysed using Wireshark, a free, open-source protocol analysis tool. The DK, dongle, and these two utilities provide developers with very powerful tools to test, monitor, and analyse the Bluetooth Smart communication of the application they are developing.
nRF51 DK and nRF51 Dongle are supported by standard tool-chain options including Keil, IAR, and Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC). nRF51 DK can also be used when developing ARM mbed applications. (ARM mbed is an innovative and easy-to-use platform for open-source developer collaboration when using ARM Cortex-M series microcontrollers. It provides a complete tool-chain for development that includes browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) and compiler in the Cloud, as well as other features including drag-and-drop device programming.)
When using the standard tool-chain, the nRF51 DK and nRF51 Dongle use Segger J-Link OB for program and debug options. The nRF51 DK additionally supports CMSIS-DAP program and debug when developing using the ARM mbed tool-chain.
The nRF51 DK measures just 63 x 101mm and features a coin-cell battery holder allowing field testing in target product application scenarios. The DK can also be used as a programmer for other target boards that use the nRF51 Series SoC. The nRF51 Dongle is a highly compact design at only 16 x 28 mm.

Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Director of Product Management, comments that with the introduction of the nRF51 DK, engineers need only purchase one kit for all their product development, irrespective of their choice of ULP wireless technology. The nRF51 DK offers the flexibility of Arduino Uno-compatible form factor and thus simple access to the huge range of third-party Arduino shields. As the kit supports ARM mbed with web-based software development, open-source libraries, and drag-and-drop programming, developers can get prototyping within minutes of unpacking the product.
Geir Langeland, Director of Sales & Marketing, explains that the nRF51 DK significantly lowers the skill and cost barriers for professional engineers and keen amateurs in the 'maker' sector looking to develop Bluetooth Smart, ANT or 2.4GHz proprietary wireless products. Bluetooth Smart, ANT and 2.4GHz are showing healthy growth in their respective niches so it's not always clear cut which technology to choose when development begins. As it can easily handle all three key ULP wireless technologies, the nRF51 DK allows the user maximum flexibility in his or her choice of wireless technology.

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