Bluetooth Low Energy and the Internet of things is believed to be the perfect matchmaking. Even though Bluetooth doesn’t necessary gives devices the ability to connect to the Internet they still have so much capacity. The Bluetooth Low Energy enabled solutions will increase the functionality of IoT Systems, by creating a reliable framework and efficient connectivity for the devices. Devices can use BLE to connect to each other thereby improving reliability, increasing range, mitigate security risk, reduce cost, and most importantly improve battery life.
The launch of the Bluetooth 5, which promise so much more are beginning to see some adoption in the open hardware industry, and a good example is the Particle Xenon using the Nordic nRF52840 SOC. The Nordic nRF52840 SoC is designed around an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU and comes with a 1 MB flash with cache and a 256kB of RAM.
Nordic recently announced that the nRF52840 now supports concurrent Thread and Bluetooth 5 wireless connectivity eliminating the previous requirement of disconnecting from one of the networks before connecting to the other. So, the potential from this announcement is enormous.
Recognising the possibility of Bluetooth 5 in addition to Thread connectivity, the teams at Makerdiary has launched a new development kit for the nRF52840 SoC called the nRF52840-MDK IoT Development Kit.
The Makediary nRF52840 MDK IoT Development Kit is a kit that will allow developers to explore Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth Mesh, Thread, IEEE 802.15.4, ANT and 2.4GHz proprietary wireless applications using the nRF52840 SoC. The kit comes integrated with the DAPLink debugger which provides a USB drag-and-drop programming, USB Virtual COM port and CMSIS-DAP interface.
The kit supports quite some software frameworks such as the nRF5 SDK, nRF5 SDK for Mesh, OpenThread, ZigBee 3.0, Mbed OS 5, Zephyr, Mynewt, Web Bluetooth, iBeacon, Eddystone, and others. It works with the standard Nordic Software Development Tool-chain using GCC, Keil and IAR.
One significant take note of the board is the USB type C port available, a rare port used for hardware boards. The development board put up a ton of features like an ultra-low power 64-Mb QSPI FLASH memory, programmable user button, RGB LED, up to 24 GPIOs, antenna selection for custom applications.
Below are some of the device specifications:
- SoC – Nordic nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F WiSoC with 1 MB FLASH and 256 kB RAM, Arm TrustZone Cryptocell 310 security subsystem
- External Storage – 64-Mbit QSPI flash
- Wireless Connectivity (on-chip)
- Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth Mesh
- Thread, IEEE 802.15.4
- ANT, 2.4GHz proprietary
- On-chip NFC-A tag
- An on-board 2.4G chip antenna
- u.FL connector selectable for an external antenna
- Programming / Debugging with DAPLink
- MSC – drag-n-drop programming flash memory
- CDC – virtual com port for log, trace and terminal emulation
- HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
- WEBUSB HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
- USB – 1x USB type C port for power and programming
- Expansion – 2x 18-pin breadboard-friendly headers with 24 GPIOs, I2C, QSPI, UART, 6x analog input pins, SWD/JTAG, and power signals (VIN, GND, 3.3V, 5V)
- Misc – Boot/Reset Button, User button and user RGB LED
- Power Supply – 5V via USB type C connector; 3.3V regulator with 1A peak current output; VBUS & VIN Power-Path Management
- Dimensions – 50mm x 23mm x 13mm with headers
Although the development board is an open source board and the design files are already available on Github, it is advisable you purchase the board to support them. Makerdiary nRF52840-MDK can be purchased for $42.90 on Seeed Studio, or directly on Makerdiary’s online store.