I’ve used many of the nRF series of wireless connectivity microcontrollers from Nordic, and they are a lot of fun to play with. They can utilize almost any wireless protocol in the 2.4GHz frequency range, including Zigbee & 802.15.4, Bluetooth & Bluetooth Mesh, ANT, Thread, and more. However, I’ve never seen any wireless development kits using the M.2 hardware form factor before! This awesome nRF52840 Development Kit uses removable M.2 boards, meaning it can be used both as a development platform, and as a programmer for the cores.
M.2 surface-mount connectors only cost $2 in single quantity, so using this format to build a bigger system around can speed up development times, and allow flexibility if more modules come out using this same form factor and pinout. Hopefully the industry will be able to standardize on a common pinout.
Speaking of common pinouts, the development board portion uses the standard Arduino header spacing, as well as 4 Grove connectors, making it easy to use existing sensors and Arduino Shields you may have on hand. I’m also a huge fan of the fact they decided to use USB-C for the USB connections. USB-C is so much better than any previous USB standard, and I hope more development boards follow this trend. The USB connection uses the standard CMSIS-DAP protocol for programming and debugging the ARM core, meaning it will work with almost any ARM compiler/debugger such as mBED. Alternatively, you can use tools like pyOCD.
The documentation looks excellent, which is a promising sign for kits like this. Good documentation makes the difference between a module being used and being relegated to the back of the dev board drawer! The only complaint I have is the lack of shipping options: DHL is quite expensive when purchasing a single board. The shipping to Canada costs as much as the board itself! Perhaps down the line we’ll see more shipping options added. Now, if they could just come up with a good name for this board…