Nordic nRF9160DK: A very capable cellular IoT Development Kit

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RoadTest: Nordic nRF9160 Development Kit

Author: josesnchz

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Digi XBee 3 DK, Thingy 91

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Starting the development and installing the software gets a bit trickier

Detailed Review:

This review is about the Nordic nRF9160 DK. The Development Kit was provided to me by Nordic Semiconductor, as part of a RoadTest.

The single-board development kit is affordable, having in mind the big amount of possibilities and technologies that it can use. LTE-M and NB-IoT are supported to communicate with a remote server or nrfcloud. Bluetooth LE is supported through the nRF52840 board controlled that is included in the board.

GNSS is supported, allowing to geolocate the board. It also has a connector for an antenna allowing to enhance the connectivity of the board.

Relating to input/outputs, the development kit has 4 leds, 2 buttons and 2 switches that are programmable by the user. 

Other interesting fact about the development kit is that it supports the Arduino UNO interface.

The kit includes the board itself and a iBasis SIM card, including 10 Mb of data to use. The eSIM that is included gives connectivity in a lot of countries, as long as there is LTE-M or NB-IoT connectivity.

For this roadtest, I have launched a few examples provided by Nordic, using Ubuntu.

Connecting the DK to the nrfCloud is quite easy and simple, you just have to follow the instructions in the getting started video

A lot of documentation is provided, and although it is quite trickier at first, it gets easier as you get inside of it. Most of that documentation can be found in this link:

https://developer.nordicsemi.com/nRF_Connect_SDK/doc/latest/nrf/ug_nrf9160_gs.html

While in windows the process followed to start developing using the board seems to be quite simple, in Linux it gets a bit trickier, a high amount of dependencies must be installed and it gets (let me say it) quite boring.

Segger J-Link allows to program and debug. There is also a Visual Studio Code "extensions" that converts the programming IDE into a new application and giving a lot of debugging and programming capabilites for the board.

The board has huge computing capabilites comparing it to other boards that I have used, and ARM TrustZone allows to execute in a secure environment whatever code is desired.

The nRF9160DK also has a connector allowing to connect the board with the Thingy:91, the prototyping board of Nordic, allowing a complete debugging, something that is not possible without the DK.

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