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Exercise 1


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Installing nRF Connect SDK and VS Code

In this part, we will simply follow the steps explained in the below video. Either watch the video or follow the steps below to install nRF Connect SDK, its dependencies, and VS Code IDE.

1. Install nRF Command Line Tools.

Download link:

Download the latest version that matches your operating system.

Follow the instructions as shown in the image below:

2. Download nRF Connect for Desktop.

nRF Connect for Desktop is a software suite that contains several applications for testing and development with Nordic’s products.

Download link:

Download the latest version that matches your operating system

3. Install nRF Connect for Desktop.

Once the download is complete, click on the installer file as shown in the illustration below.


4. Install nRF Connect SDK.

On Linux, complete steps 1 through 5 found on the Installing manually page, to install the nRF Connect SDK.

When complete, skip down to step 7 here in Lesson 1 Exercise 1.


The automatic installation of nRF Connect SDK is currently not supported by Linux, so you must follow the manual steps described on the Installing manually page.

Windows and macOS

4. Install and open the Toolchain Manager.

In nRF Connect for Desktop, scroll down through all the available applications until you see the Toolchain Manager. Install the application, then open it as shown in the image below:

The Toolchain Manager manages nRF Connect SDK and toolchain versions on your computer. It is the recommended way to download, install, and uninstall the nRF Connect SDK for Windows and macOS machines.


The installer will check whether nRF Connect for Desktop dependencies (Segger J-link, Nordic drivers and Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable) are present on your computer. If they are not found, it will install them for you. For the installation to succeed, you must accept the installation for all dependencies.

5. Configure the installation directory for the nRF Connect SDK.

This is the directory where the SDK will be downloaded and installed. We recommend calling this directory nordicsemi or something similar in length, and save it as close as possible to the root directory. E.g: C:\nordicsemi. Do not use a name that contains spaces.

6. Install nRF Connect SDK.

The Toolchain Manager will list the available versions of the nRF Connect SDK that can be downloaded and installed on your machine. Select the nRF Connect SDK version you wish to use for your project development.


We recommend installing the latest version available of nRF Connect SDK to get all the available features.

In the illustration below we are showing how to install version 1.6.1. This will take some time to finish depending on your internet and machine speed.

Once you see the new buttons like Open VS Code (see image above), the installation of the nRF Connect SDK is complete.

7. Set up nRF Connect for VS Code.

Now that we have the SDK installed, the next step is to set up an integrated development environment (IDE) to simplify the application development process. We will use the nRF Connect for VS Code.

The nRF Connect for VS Code is an extension pack that allows developers to use the popular Visual Studio Code Integrated Development Environment (VS Code IDE) to develop, build, test, and deploy embedded applications based on Nordic’s nRF Connect SDK (Software Development Kit). It includes an interface to the compiler and linker, an RTOS-aware debugger, a seamless interface to the nRF Connect SDK, and an integrated serial terminal among other valuable development tools. Full documentation of the nRF Connect for VS Code is available here.


nRF Connect for VS Code supports nRF Connect SDK version 1.6.0 and higher

7.1 Install VS Code.

Go to and install the version that matches your operating system.

7.2 Open VS Code.

Head to Extensions, then type Nordic in the search field and select nRF Connect Extension pack and click on Install as shown in the illustration below:

Installing the nRF Connect Extension Pack in VS Code

The bundle consists of:

In addition to Cortex-Debug, GNU Linker Map files, and CMake, the bundle consists of the following components:

  • nRF Connect for VS Code, the main extension, which contains an interface to the build system and nRF Connect SDK, as well as external tools such as guiconfig. 
  • DeviceTree for the Zephyr Project, which provides DeviceTree language support.
  • Kconfig for the Zephyr Project, which provides Kconfig language support.
  • nRF Terminal, a serial and RTT terminal.
  • C/C++ from Microsoft which adds language support for C/C++ including features such as IntelliSense.

7.3 Open nRF Connect for VS Code.

Open the extension by clicking the icon (1) and set up the basic configuration (2), which is simply selecting the nRF Connect SDK and nRF Connect Toolchain. You’re now ready to build an application.

nRF Connect for VS Code: Welcome page

The illustration above shows how to set up the extension with a version (1.8.0) of nRF Connect SDK. On your side, select the version that you plan to use for your project development.

nRF Connect SDK is IDE agnostic, which means you can use it with the IDE of your choice and you can also use it without an IDE at all. However, we highly recommend using VS Code with our nRF Connect for VS Code extension pack as it contains both a convenient graphical user interface (GUI) and an efficient command-line interface (CLI) in one place, in addition to many features that make firmware development much easier. Setting up another IDE to work with nRF Connect SDK will require some extra manual steps that are out of the scope of this course.