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Lesson 3 – Adding custom board support

In the context of nRF Connect SDK/Zephyr, a board definition refers to configuration and initialization files that define the hardware characteristics and behavior of a specific development board or hardware platform.

nRF Connect SDK comes with support for a large number of boards (Development Kits, Prototyping Platforms, and Reference Designs), and it also offers the flexibility of adjusting the hardware specifications of existing board definitions through the use of devicetree overlay files and Kconfig fragments (Covered in the nRF Connect SDK Fundamentals course).

However, there are situations where we would like to create an entirely new board definition with its unique name and unique hardware specifications. This is usually the case when you have developed your schematics and own PCB for your Nordic-based product. We call this a “custom board” as the SDK itself does not provide it.

Important

The lesson explains the currently used method to define boards in nRF Connect SDK (Up and including nRF Connect SDK v 2.6.0 ). There is ongoing work in upstream Zephyr for a new hardware model (Hardware Model V2) . The lesson will be updated to include the new hardware model when it is merged into the nRF Connect SDK.

Objectives

  • Examine the hardware support hierarchy in nRF Connect SDK and explore the different options to create custom board files and their cons and pros.
  • Understand the role of each of the mandatory files required to describe your hardware in nRF Connect SDK/Zephyr RTOS and all other optional and special use case files.
  • Learn how to convert hardware schematics to devicetree syntax using nRF Connect for VS Code extension and how to write your own Kconfig files for your own custom hardware.
  • Practice through a hands-on exercise creating a custom board for a single-core SoC.
  • Practice through a hands-on exercise creating a custom board for a multi-core & TF-M capable SoC.
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