Educational MCU Board Featuring Nordic SoCs Teaches Electronic Design

February 07, 2024 by Aaron Carman

Using an industrial SoC, this educational device provides an easy entry into the wireless world.

Calliope has launched an educational development board using two Nordic SoCs to provide wireless communications for up-and-coming engineers. The Calliope Mini 3 development board is a compact solution that provides hands-on STEM education for beginners and hobbyists.


The Calliope mini 3

The Calliope Mini 3 leverages two Nordic SoCs to provide the USB and BLE interfaces for wireless control with smartphones. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor

Calliope believes young engineers can greatly benefit from a simple, community-supported solution for electronics and software development, especially in the age of wireless network proliferation. This article will take a closer look at Calliope’s newest educational board and the Nordic SoCs that provide wireless access and control.


All-in-One Electronics Education

Calliope designed the Calliope Mini 3 as a one-stop shop for students to gain hands-on experience with electronics and software design. As such, the Mini 3 includes both hardware and software features geared to make the development experience intuitive—without needing to know about timers, interrupts, or Ohm’s Law.


Calliope mini 3 as liquid temperature monitor

The Calliope Mini 3 can be used for various educational purposes, from a Morse code translator to a simple liquid temperature monitor (pictured). Image used courtesy of Calliope

The board itself has a plethora of features for student engineers to explore. A 5×5 LED matrix and three RGB LEDs emit custom colors or pixelated images, while the built-in speaker and microphone support audio. Numerous touch pins and buttons enable external control with onboard hardware, while various sensors open the doors for any number of projects.

In addition, Nordic’s nRF52833 allows users to integrate the BLE protocol. As a result, the board itself can be programmed to receive input from an accompanying smartphone, allowing users to develop popular devices, like IoT sensors.


Embedded BLE With the nRF Series

The Calliope Mini 3 includes two key components that provide a robust USB interface and BLE development support. At the core, the nRF52833 SoC provides a BLE interface for application development and processing power via the 64-MHz Arm Cortex-M4 processor. 


The nRF52833 acts as the central processor for the Calliope mini 3

The nRF52833 acts as the central processor for the Calliope Mini 3, providing BLE and processing support, while the secondary nRF chip supports the operation of the board. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor

In tandem with the nRF52833, the nRF52820 in Calliope Mini 3 provides a USB interface to copy data to and from the nRF52833 processor and enable serial communication between the host computer and the development board. Calliope claims that Nordic's SDK may be useful when developing the Mini 3, further demonstrating the ability of the nRF series to adapt to various applications, both educational and otherwise.


Calliope Mini 3 Offers New Educational Opportunities

While the Calliope Mini 3 may not be useful in industrial deployments, feature-rich educational boards like this one are remarkably important, especially as more of our day-to-day lives rely on wireless and IoT technologies. Though the Mini 3 may not be the most powerful board on the market, it plays a critical role in introducing the next generation of scientists and engineers to the wonders of electronics. This would not be possible without companies like Calliope and Nordic Semiconductor bringing robust and high-quality materials to an educational setting.