Adafruit Launches ItsyBitsy nRF52840 Express Dev Board with Arduino IDE and CircuitPython Support

Powered by a Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Bluetooth LE SoC, the new ItsyBitsy boasts considerable power for its compact footprint.

The ItsyBitsy nRF52840 includes an integrated BLE radio. (📷: Adafruit)

Adafruit has officially launched the ItsyBitsy nRF52840 Express, a compact breadboard-friendly development board built around the titular Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Bluetooth LE system-on-chip -–and boasting support for both the Arduino IDE and CircuitPython development environments.

"Teensy and powerful, with a fast nRF52840 Cortex M4 processor running at 64 MHz and 1MB of flash – this microcontroller board is perfect when you want something very compact, with a heap-load of memory and Bluetooth LE support. It even comes with 2MB of QSPI Flash built in, for data logging, file storage, or CircuitPython code," Adafruit explains of its latest design. "This Itsy is your best option for tiny wireless connectivity – it can act as both a BLE central and peripheral, with support in both Arduino and CircuitPython. "

The latter is worthy of special attention: The board is shipped running demo code compatible with the popular Arduino IDE, and fully supporting programming through the same tool. In a process Adafruit claims takes "only a few clicks," however, the board can be reconfigured for CircuitPython use – allowing it to be programmed with new code using nothing more than a USB Mass Storage-compatible host device and a text editor.

The 1.4x0.7" footprint is similar to the company's other ItsyBitsy family, though the pinout is somewhat different: gone are the pins at the end of the board, in order to make room for the chip antenna. The board includes 21 general-purpose input/output pins, of which six are configurable as 12-bit analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) inputs and 12 as pulse-width modulation (PWM) outputs – split across three PWM modules with four outputs each.

There's an on-board single-colour LED and a programmable RGB LED, along with a "Vhigh" output pin which provides 5V from VBAT or VUSB for driving 5V-logic devices. The 2.4GHz radio is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) compatible in central and peripheral modes.

The ItsyBitsy nRF52840 Express is now available, priced at $17.95, from the Adafruit store.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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