EYE ON NPI – Raytac MDBT50Q-1MV2 Module with Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 @digikey @RaytacCorp

This week’s EYE ON NPI is teamwork makin’ the dream work – a collaboration between our favorite module makers Raytac and our favorite Bluetooth Low Energy designers, Nordic Semiconductor.

Together they’ve created what we think is the best nRF52840 module, the Raytac MDBT50Q-1MV2. Historically you’ve had to pick this up direct from Raytac, but now it’s stocked by DigiKey, which is excellent news for anyone who wants to integrate the powerful nRF52840 with little fuss.

The Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 is not a new chip, we’ve been selling the Feather nRF52840 since 2019 and the chip itself was announced in mid 2017. It builds on the popular nRF52832, a chip with an Arm Cortex M4-F / 512K Flash / 64K SRAM, but with a ton more memory: the ‘840 has 1MB Flash and 256K SRAM. It also comes with native USB device support, which is new to the nRF series but makes product design easier because DFU and computer-interfacing doesn’t require a second chip.

The only challenge is that the nRF52840 itself is in a funky QFN package with pads underneath, and multiple rows, which requires either very fine traces, 4-layer boards, plugged vias, or a combination, in order to get to the ‘inner’ traces. Also, you have to get your antenna tuning right – even though the nRF is very forgiving, it’s still extra effort!

That’s why at Adafruit we have been using Raytac’s MDBT50Q-1MV2 Module for years, in our Feather nRF52840, ItsyBitsy nRF52840 and CLUE board.

We like that it pick-and-places cleanly and easily on 2-layer PCBs with 8/8 rule DRC, comes with certifications, and has a couple different built-in antenna options, all tuned and ready.

In particular, if you want a larger and/or external antenna check out the MDBT50Q-U1MV2 but we like the chip-antenna version the most. Either way, the module footprint is much easier to work with – you still have pads underneath but they’re large, and you can easily fit vias in the unused spots. Just make sure you keep ground clearance around the antenna if you’re using an on-module version. If you need tips on schematic and layout, just use our open source hardware design files to guide you – or check Nordic’s devZone.

If you’ve wanted to use the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 chip for your ultra low-power Bluetooth LE products, but have hesitated due to the effort of integrating the QFN chip, we can’t recommend the Raytac MDBT50Q-1MV2 module enough! And now that it’s for sale through DigiKey, you can pick up some at a great price. Order today and you can BLE-ify your next design by tomorrow afternoon.

See the Adafruit video below and a factory tour after that:

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