nRF52832 Breakout Board Hookup Guide

Contributors: jimblom
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The nRF52832 is Nordic Semiconductor's latest multiprotocol radio system-on-chip (SoC). It's half microcontroller, with a list of features including 32 configurable I/O pins, SPI, I2C, UART, PWM, ADC's, 512kB flash, and 64kB RAM. And, it's half 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, supporting Bluetooth low energy (BLE), ANT, and Nordic's proprietary 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless communication -- it even features on-chip NFC tag support.

SparkFun nRF52832 Breakout

9 Retired

SparkFun's nRF52832 Breakout provides easy access to all of the chip's features. It breaks out all of the nRF52's I/O pins, provides a 32.768kHz RTC crystal, a user-programmable button and LED, and a trace antenna to send and receive those 2.4GHz transmissions. Plus, to make the chip as easy-to-flash as possible, the breakout comes pre-programmed with a serial bootloader.

Covered In This Tutorial

This tutorial is a comprehensive getting started guide for the SparkFun nRF52832 Breakout. It documents hardware features of the board, and includes tips on getting a computer set up for nRF52832 software development. Programming the chip via the serial bootloader using the Arduino IDE is the primary focus of the latter half of the tutorial.

Bill of Materials

To follow along with this tutorial -- and to get your nRF52832 Breakout up-and-running -- you'll need a few additional components.

To program the board, we recommend interfacing the breakout board with a SparkFun Beefy 3 - FTDI Basic Breakout. In addition to providing a USB-to-serial programming interface, this board will also be able to fully-power the nRF52832 breakout. The less-beefy 3.3V FTDI Basic can also be used to program the board, but we recommend finding an alternative power supply to power the nRF52832 board. Whichever USB-to-serial converter you go with, don't forget the USB cable!

SparkFun Beefy 3 - FTDI Basic Breakout

SparkFun Beefy 3 - FTDI Basic Breakout

USB Micro-B Cable - 6 Foot

USB Micro-B Cable - 6 Foot


To interface the nRF52832 Breakout with the FTDI, you'll need to solder a 6-pin strip of headers to the board's serial interface. We recommend right-angle headers for this job, but the straight or long headers can also get it done. Grab some extra male headers -- or even female headers -- if you plan on connecting to any of the I/O pins.

Break Away Headers - Straight

Break Away Headers - Straight

Break Away Headers - 40-pin Male (Long Centered, PTH, 0.1")

Break Away Headers - 40-pin Male (Long Centered, PTH, 0.1")

Break Away Male Headers - Right Angle

Break Away Male Headers - Right Angle


Finally, to complete the Bluetooth connection, you'll need a BLE-equipped smartphone. This tutorial documents how to use the nRF52832 with Nordic's free, open-source nRF Toolbox and nRF Connect apps, which are available on both iOS and Android devices.

nRF Toolbox

nRF Toolbox

     nRF Connect

nRF Connect

Suggested Reading

The nRF52832 Breakout is an intermediate-to-advanced level board, but don't let that scare you off! This tutorial should be able to walk you through getting started with the board regardless of your skill level. That said, we do recommend that you're familiar with the topics covered in these tutorials:

Serial Communication

Asynchronous serial communication concepts: packets, signal levels, baud rates, UARTs and more!

Using the Arduino Pro Mini 3.3V

This tutorial is your guide to all things Arduino Pro Mini. It explains what it is, what it's not, and how to get started using it.

Bluetooth Basics

An overview of the Bluetooth wireless technology.

SparkFun USB to Serial UART Boards Hookup Guide

How to use the SparkFun FTDI based boards to program an Arduino and access another serial device over the hardware serial port, without unplugging anything!