Design

Low-cost USB dongle aids wireless designs

4th December 2018
Mick Elliott

The nRF52840 dongle has been designed by Nordic Semiconductor as a front-end, physical gateway for the nRF Connect for Desktop PC tool. It allows developers to immediately connect a PC to a wireless device. This further simplifies application design and product development process.

The dongle which is available from Rutronik UK, supports all major wireless standards including Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth Mesh, Thread, ZigBee, 802.15.4, ANT and 2.4GHz proprietary applications running on the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Multi-Protocol System-on-Chip (SoC).

It also integrates a user-programmable RGB LED with a physical push-button, a green LED and 15 GPIO’s, which can be soldered to the edge.  Using this cost-effective USB dongle, developers can see exactly what the wireless device is doing from the get-go on their PC desktop.

After programming the internal microcontroller with the free Segger compiler, the USB stick can also be operated independently with a USB power bank. In this way it functions as a mini development kit and is perfectly suited for prototype construction.

Many interested customers are thus often spared the purchase of the much more complex nRF52840-DK development kit.   To give users an easy start, sample applications are available in the nRF5 SDK software development kit under the board name PCA10059. The nRF52840 dongle can also be programmed via the Nordic Semiconductor nRFutil utility.

nRFutil is a Python package and command line utility that supports Device Firmware Updates (DFUs) and cryptographic functionality.

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