Hardware design

When designing hardware, you need to consider PCB design, reference layouts, and tuning of the antenna and matching network.

Design Printed circuit board (PCB)

A well designed PCB is necessary to achieve good RF performance. A poor PCB layout can lead to loss in performance or functionality.

See the general PCB guidelines in the product specifications for more information.

Reference layouts

Reference layouts are qualified schematics and PCB layouts that Nordic Semiconductor has made for each variant of our chips, free to download and use.

This will give you a head start when you are designing the circuitry and PCB layout for the critical RF signals. The reference layout is tested and qualified, and if you copy the reference layout and use our bill of material (BOM), you will get the performance specified.

Important: Even when using our reference layouts, all new designs require fine tuning of the antenna and matching network since RF performance will depend on:
  • Size and shape of the antenna element
  • The housing
  • Proximity to metal
  • Shape and size of the ground plane

All the reference circuits are designed for use with a 50 Ω single ended antenna.

See the Reference layout nRF52832, the Reference layout nRF52840, the Reference layout nRF52810, and the Reference layout nRF51 Series.

Tuning of antenna and matching network

Due to tolerances and stray capacitances etc. all designs require fine tuning of the antenna and matching network in order to achieve the optimal RF performance. The antenna and matching network are the most critical components for getting the most out of your radio, for both transmitting power and receiver sensitivity.

For more information, see white paper nWP017 - Antenna tuning.