Nordic Semi Announces nRF51 DK Arduino Compatible Board, and nRF51 Dongle with Bluetooth Smart, ANT, and 2.4GHz Connectivity

Nordic Semiconductor has introduced two new low cost development boards supporting Bluetooh LE, ANT/ANT+, and proprietary 2.4GHz applications based on their nRF51 series SoCs: nRF51 DK, an Arduino UNO Rev.3 compatible board that can be used for various IoT and wearables applications, and nRF51 Dongle, a USB dongle to connect to a PC or board, which can be useful for packet sniffing and BLE peer connection.

nRF51 DK Development Board


Key features listed for the board:

  • SoC – Supports nRF51822 (BT/2.4Ghz) and nRF51422 (BT/ANT) SoCs based on an ARM Cortex M0 processor, with 128kB or 256kB flash memory, and 16kB or 32kB RAM.
  • Connectivity
    • Bluetooth Smart, ANT/ANT+ and 2.4GHz proprietary
    • Integrated PCB antenna
    • Connector for RF measurements
  • Expansions Headers
    • Arduino Uno Rev. 3 compatible connector for use with 3rd party shields
    • All I/O and interfaces available via connectors
  • Debugging
    • Segger J-Link OB and ARM CMSIS-DAP Program/Debug supported
    • Support for Program/Debug of external target boards
    • Pins for power consumption measurements
  • Misc – 4x user LEDs, 4x user buttons, power switch, reset button coin-cell battery holder (back of the board)
  • Power Supply – 3.6v -1.6v, battery and USB, external
  • Dimensions – 101 x 63 mm
nRF51 DK Pinout
nRF51 DK Pinout

nRF51 DK board supports Keil MDK, IAR Workbench, and GCC toolchains, as well as ARM mbed for rapid prototyping and development using mbed’s cloud-based IDE and toolchain. Software architecture is divided into two layers: Application, SoftDevices, the company’s embedded protocol stacks that include Bluetooth Smart peripheral stack, Bluetooth Smart B-link central stack, Bluetooth Smart concurrent central/peripheral/broadcaster/observer stack, ANT/ANT+ 8 link stack, and Bluetooth Smart peripheral/ANT 8-link stack. Documentation and tools including user’s guides, development tools and drivers, hardware reference files, can be downloaded on Nordic website, sometimes publicly, but most of the times after purchasing nRF51 DK kit. The board also supports OTA-DFU (Over The Air Device Firmware Update) for on-field wireless firmware updates.

The kit includes nRF51 DK board, a CR2032 battery, and 5x nRF51 Series SoC samples, and can be purchased for $69 from Nordic Semi’s distributors, such as Digikey or Mouser. More details can be found on Nordic’s nRF51 DK product page.

nRF51 USB Dongle

nRF51_DonglenRF51 Dongle is a tiny USB dongle that can comes with a user button, an RGB LED, a few GPIO headers, and be used for software development on the nRF51 Series SoCs, and is especially useful when used in conjunction with the company’s nRF Sniffer and Master Control Panel (MCP) firmware and software. nRF Sniffer tool capture BLE packets, which can be viewed in the well-known Wireshark network capture and analysis utility.

Key features listed for nRF51 Dongle:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth Smart, ANT and 2.4GHz
  • Supports Master Emulator – Bluetooth Smart Peer connection firmware
  • Debugging:
    • Virtual COM port interface through UART
    • Segger J-Link OB and ARM CMSIS-DAP Program/Debug supported
  • Misc – User-programmable RGB LED and button, 6x solder pads for GPIO/interface connections
  • Dimensions – 16 x 28 mm

Development is done very much the same way as with nRF51 DK, including the same toolchains from Keil, IAR, GCC. and ARM (mbed), SoftDevices stacks, and it also support OTA-DFU.

Documentation and tools can be downloaded from nRF51 Dongle page, and the board is available for $49 from various distributors such as Mouser or Digikey.


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2 Replies to “Nordic Semi Announces nRF51 DK Arduino Compatible Board, and nRF51 Dongle with Bluetooth Smart, ANT, and 2.4GHz Connectivity”

  1. Are any software routines available? Nrf51 dev board

    Any i/o to and from I2c?
    Output to 128 x64 graphics lcd
    Any sample software would be of interest

  2. Is there a JSON or other Aurdino IDE board support file available for the nRF51 Dongle?
    The other compilers/IDEs are overkill for my needs, and are proving to be a big hassle.

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