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nRF9160 DK getting started

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This tutorial will show you how to send data over NB-IoT using the nRF9160 DK module from Nordic Semiconductor. The guide relies on our self service NB-IoT Developer Platform which, as of 1st October 2018, is only enabled for Telenor Norway.

Prerequisites

Development environment

At the time of the writing of this tutorial, concise and reliable instructions for setting up one’s development environment were hard to come by. You are welcome to follow Nordic’s instructions for setting up the nRF Connect SDK, but we recommend following ours instead.

Windows

Windows users should follow the Ubuntu instructions after setting up the Windows Subsystem for Linux, as follows:

Run this command in PowerShell as administrator:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

Then, reboot your computer.

Next, we need to install a Linux distro. For this tutorial we will use Ubuntu. Open PowerShell as administrator and run these commands:

Invoke-WebRequest -Uri https://aka.ms/wsl-ubuntu-1804 -OutFile Ubuntu.appx -UseBasicParsing
./Ubuntu.appx

You will then be prompted to install Ubuntu. Follow the steps in the wizard, including setting up user and password.

Install packages

Mac OS X

Follow the instructions here to install the Homebrew package manager, if you haven’t already. Then, run the following command:

brew install git cmake ninja gperf ccache dfu-util dtc python3 px4/px4/gcc-arm-none-eabi \
             homebrew/cask-drivers/nordic-nrf5x-command-line-tools

This command may take quite some time to complete.

Ubuntu

On Ubuntu, run the following commands to install the necessary packages:

sudo apt install git ninja-build gperf ccache dfu-util device-tree-compiler python3-pip \
                 python3-setuptools python3-wheel make gdb-multiarch gcc-arm-none-eabi
pip3 install cmake
ln -s ~/.local/bin/cmake /usr/bin/
wget http://no.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/d/device-tree-compiler/device-tree-compiler_1.4.7-1_amd64.deb
sudo apt install ./device-tree-compiler_1.4.7-1_amd64.deb

Zephyr toolchain

In order for Zephyr to find the gcc-arm-none-eabi toolchain you installed earlier, you need to export a couple of environment variables. It can be most convenient to do this in a .bash_profile (or similar) file.

On Mac OS X:

export ZEPHYR_TOOLCHAIN_VARIANT=gnuarmemb
export GNUARMEMB_TOOLCHAIN_PATH=/usr/local/opt/gcc-arm-none-eabi/

On Ubuntu:

export ZEPHYR_TOOLCHAIN_VARIANT=gnuarmemb
export GNUARMEMB_TOOLCHAIN_PATH=/usr/

West

Install West (Zephyr’s meta-tool) as follows:

On Windows and Mac OS X:

pip3 install -U west

On Ubuntu:

pip3 install --user -U west

Example application

Finally, we can get down to the business of sending data over NB-IoT. We have created an example application for this purpose.

Before running the example application, you should follow the instructions from another of our tutorials to install a serial terminal application. This way, you can see the serial output of the application – which is not only convenient for seeing log output but also necessary for you to obtain the IMEI and IMSI of the device, both of which are needed in order to register the device on the NB-IoT Developer Platform.

Once you have your serial terminal application open and connected, and you have connected the nRF9160 DK to your computer via USB, build and flash the example application to the nRF9160 DK, as follows:

git clone git@github.com:ExploratoryEngineering/nrf9160-example.git
cd nr9160-example
west build -b nrf9160_pca10090ns
west flash

Once the application is flashed to the device, it will immediately begin running. In your serial terminal application you will see a lot of output about Zephyr booting, then possibly some delay, and then you will see the following application output:

Example application started.
IMEI: <imei>
IMSI: <imsi>

At this point, the application will try to connect to the IoT network, but it will not succeed because the device is not yet registered on the NB-IoT Developer Platform. Now is the time to copy the IMEI and IMSI and register the device as described here.

After registering the device, restart the application by pressing the RESET button on the nRF9160 DK. You will see the same output as before, but after some time (15-20 seconds, be patient!) you will additionally see that the device connected to the network and sent a message. On the device page on the Developer Platform you will also see that the message has been successfully transmitted.

Well done!

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