The nRF52840 PCA10059 (USB Dongle) hardware provides support for the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 ARM Cortex-M4F CPU and the following devices:

  • ADC
  • GPIO
  • I2C
  • MPU
  • NVIC
  • PWM
  • RADIO (Bluetooth Low Energy and 802.15.4)
  • RTC
  • SPI
  • UART
  • USB
  • WDT
nRF52840 Dongle

nRF52840 PCA10059

More information about the board can be found at the nRF52840 Dongle website [1]. The Nordic Semiconductor Documentation library [2] contains the processor’s information and the datasheet.


The nrf52840_pca10059 has two external oscillators. The frequency of the slow clock is 32.768 kHz. The frequency of the main clock is 32 MHz.

Supported Features

The nrf52840_pca10059 board configuration supports the following hardware features:

Interface Controller Driver/Component
ADC on-chip adc
CLOCK on-chip clock_control
FLASH on-chip flash
GPIO on-chip gpio
I2C(M) on-chip i2c
MPU on-chip arch/arm
NVIC on-chip arch/arm
PWM on-chip pwm
RADIO on-chip Bluetooth, ieee802154
RTC on-chip system clock
SPI(M/S) on-chip spi
UART on-chip serial
USB on-chip usb
WDT on-chip watchdog

Other hardware features are not supported by the Zephyr kernel. See nRF52840 Dongle website [1] and Nordic Semiconductor Documentation library [2] for a complete list of nRF52840 PCA10059 Development Kit board hardware features.

Connections and IOs


  • LED0 (green) = P0.6
  • LED1 (red) = P0.8
  • LED1 (green) = P1.9
  • LED1 (blue) = P0.12

Push buttons

  • BUTTON1 = SW1 = P1.6
  • RESET = SW2 = P0.18

Programming and Debugging

Applications for the nrf52840_pca10059 board configuration can be built in the usual way (see Build an Application for more details). There are two ways to program the board, with the DFU tool or with an external debugger chip.

Flashing with a device firmware update (DFU)

The board is factory-programmed with Nordic’s bootloader from Nordic’s nRF5 SDK. This section covers the steps required to program the board with a Zephyr application using Nordic’s DFU tool nrfutil.

Follow the instructions on nrfutil GitHub [4] to install the necessary software.

Compile a Zephyr application as usual, here is an example for the Blinky Application application.

# On Linux/macOS
cd $ZEPHYR_BASE/samples/basic/blinky
mkdir build && cd build

# On Windows
cd %ZEPHYR_BASE%\samples\basic\blinky
mkdir build & cd build

# Use cmake to configure a Ninja-based build system:
cmake -GNinja -DBOARD=nrf52840_pca10059 ..

# Now run ninja on the generated build system:

Create an application package, using nrfutil:

nrfutil pkg generate --hw-version 52 --sd-req=0x00 \
        --application zephyr.hex --application-version 1

Flash it onto the board:

nrfutil dfu usb_serial -pkg -p /dev/ttyACM0

Observe the green LED on the board blinking.

For more information on these steps visit: Nordic Semiconductor USB DFU [3] and nrfutil GitHub [4] pages.

Chainloading the MCUBoot bootloader

It is possible to use the nRF5 bootloader alongside MCUBoot. To do so, program the board with MCUBoot as a Zephyr application, following the steps above. Then, prepare to compile an application with MCUBoot support.

Select :option: CONFIG_BOOTLOADER_MCUBOOT, under “Boot options” and set :option: CONFIG_TEXT_SECTION_OFFSET under “Build and Link features”, “Linker options” to 0x200 to ensure the code is offset to account for MCUboot firmware image metadata.

Sign the resulting firmware image using the imgtool utility as follows:

imgtool sign -S 0x5e000 --key mcuboot/root-rsa-2048.pem \
        --header-size 0x200 --align 8 --version 3.0 firmware.bin signed.bin

Enter MCUboot serial recovery mode by inserting the device into the USB port while holding BUTTON1 down. Keep in mind that resetting the device using the RESET button will always enter Nordic nRF5 bootloader’s DFU mode.

Finally, perform a firmware update using mcumgr as follows:

mcumgr --conntype=serial --connstring='dev=/dev/ttyACM0,baud=115200' \
        image upload -e signed.bin

and reset the device:

mcumgr --conntype=serial --connstring='dev=/dev/ttyACM0,baud=115200' reset

For more information about these steps refer to: MCUboot [5] and mcumgr [6].


The nrf52840_pca10059 board does not have an on-board J-Link debug IC as some nRF5x development boards, however, instructions from the Nordic nRF5x Segger J-Link page also apply to this board, with the additional step of connecting an external debugger.

Testing the LEDs and buttons on the nRF52840 PCA10059

There are 2 samples that allow you to test that the buttons (switches) and LEDs on the board are working properly with Zephyr:

You can build and program the examples to make sure Zephyr is running correctly on your board.