If you want to play around with Bluetooth 5, Nordic nRF52840 is probably one of the best option, and among the development board, $9/$12 Particle Xenon is hard to beat when it comes to value.
But if you need a bit more storage, I/Os and features, Makerdiary nRF52840 micro development kit looks like a good candidate to evaluate, especially it supports plenty of frameworks / operating systems such as Arm Mbed OS, Zephyr Project, OpenThread, Mynewt, and others. It’s also the first MCU class board I’ve seen with a USB type C port, although I’m not sure it brings any benefits to this type of hardware.
Makerdiary nRF52840 micro development kit (nRF52840-MDK) hardware 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
- On-board 2.4G chip antenna
- u.FL connector selectable for 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
As mentioned in the introduction, the nRF52840-MDK can be used to play with all sort of software development kits, frameworks, or OSes including nRF5 SDK, nRF5 SDK for Mesh, OpenThread, Mbed OS 5, Arm Mbed DAPLink, Zephyr, Apache Mynewt, Web Bluetooth, Eddystone, and iBeacon. Best of all the Wiki explains how to use each of those in details (except for the last three), so it looks like an excellent platform if you want to experiment with different frameworks.
Makerdiary nRF52840-MDK can be purchased for $42.90 on Seeed Studio, or directly on Makerdiary’s online store. This is not the first board from the company, as they previously developed two other small nRF52832 boards.
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