This week Phy ‘d gotten our hands on the Nordic NRF51822-BEACON development kit and decided to give it a whirl. And despite our general excitement for all things Nordic – especially the 51822 – we’ve must confess this board left us…more than a little puzzled?
For a super cool device (and the NRF51822 is definitely one of them!) the board seemed almost incomplete…Something completely uncharacteristic of Nordic, who are far and away unique in their forthcoming-ness with content including reference designs, datasheets, source code, examples, what-not. In fact, it’s hard to find a better example of a more engineering-friendly player amongst those building wireless devices, at least when it comes to access to resources and moreover, just a general pragmatism and familiarity with what drives engineers bonkers (ask Broadcom or Marvell for a datasheet or worse, a reference design sometime and you’ll soon appreciate the “Nordic-difference”).
Also, the cost had us confounded, though I have a theory about the high $30-40 pricetag I share in the video to follow! If it holds (my theory) this could explain the higher cost and could prevent a run on these boards that prevents Nordic from meeting demand and puts them in competition with their customers. Again, it’s just a theory.
Nevertheless, what started out this week as an unboxing and (hopefully) a “bring it up” post, instead is a top level view of the design..and when we finally get around to soldering on the programming headers (cough…meh…cough) we’ll spin up a walk thru of the software resources and such. <Sigh>
Have a look at the video and read on for more details about the board.
This BLE beacon uses the NRF51822 combination BLE transceiver and ARM Cortex M0 SoC. The beacon board measures 20mm in diameter (similar to a coin cell battery) and includes 2 buttons and a single RGB-LED. Programming pins are broken out to SMT pads though the board we had did not include a programming header. SMT pads for 10x GPIOs also exist though located in pretty random locations around the board (wherever they could break them out). The device supports “full” over-the-air firmware updates and software examples including Android and iOS examples are both available.
Complete details can be found at the Nordic Semiconductor website.