Nordic nRF9160 Road Test: A secure single board component solution for IoT applications with Bluetooth and Cellular

Table of contents

RoadTest: Nordic nRF9160 Development Kit

Author: al4475

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?: ubox EVK-R510M8S

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The biggest problem I ran into was BLE and connecting a Bluetooth device to a gateway. Also there wasn't very many good demo examples for BLE.

Detailed Review:

This review is on Nordic nRF9160 DK. Thanks to element14 for giving me the opportunity to test this kit. I apologize for the late review. With Covid-19, and all of the other viruses, I was forced to work remotely for months and the board was in my office. I was recently allowed back in the office and finished my testing.

I found that the documentation and videos were easy to understand.  The nRF Cloud and the UI for Desktop Connect, Toolchain, Programmer, LTE Link Monitor look nice and clean and easy to use.   The firmware upgrade process for DK Firmware, Application, and Modem Firmware was straightforward and easy to use. The initial connection of nRF9160 DK to the nRF Cloud was easy to establish.

The SIM card activation to iBasis wasn't as easy as it should have been. I wish there more than one option for the SIM other than iBasis. Once connected my device transmitted data to the nRF LTE Link Monitor. I was surprised it only found AT&T until I searched for more. The connection was not that strong (2 bars) from the 9th floor and near a window. I might need to get an antenna.

I used Visual Studio Code and the nRF Connect for VS Code extension to look at the demo applications included. I had some trouble get everything working with workspaces initially but I worked thru it with the help of the documentation. The demo apps are a great starting point.

The BLE was harder to get up and running and to connect to. I will need to spend more time with this to get the full spectrum of it capabilities. 

The Rest API & MQTT API are exciting option for this board and development kit. I plan to set up a environment to physically control access to a door and server lock in a remote location. This will help me get the data needed to keep the area secure.

The security features of this board are top notch allowing ARM TrustZone Cryptocell 310 to provide RoT and cryptographic services. This technology allows the encapsulation and protection of data and functionalities, dividing the memory between normal and secure partitions. 

I highly recommend this well designed board for it's computing capabilities, secure environment, and easy to use documentation. This is a great board to expand your knowledge and skills with LTE, BLE, and IoT applications.