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Programming nRF5x SoCs with Pitaya-Link


Pitaya-Link is a low-cost debug probe based on the CMSIS-DAP (also known as DAPLink) protocol standard. It can be used to program and debug the application software running on Arm Cortex Microcontrollers.

The design enables developers with Drag-And-Drop programming, Virtual COM Port, CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel, and access to Arm Cortex Microcontrollers in the browser using WebUSB.

The probe comes with indicator LEDs, a button to reset the target or trigger the firmware update, reversible USB-C connector and easy-to-use 7-pin 2.54mm Header.

This post is intended to assist users in the initial setup and demonstration of programming Nordic's nRF5x SoCs with Pitaya-Link.

What you'll need

Installing pyOCD

pyOCD is an open source Python package for programming and debugging Arm Cortex-M microcontrollers using multiple supported types of USB debug probes. It is fully cross-platform, with support for Linux, macOS, and Windows.

The latest stable version of pyOCD may be installed via pip as follows:

python3 -mpip install -U pyocd

Alternatively, you can install the latest prerelease version from the HEAD of the develop branch, you can do the following:

$ python3 -mpip install --pre -U git+

Verify if pyOCD works correctly in your terminal:

pyocd --version

Connecting the target

Perform the following steps to connect your nRF5x target board:

  1. Connect the target board to Pitaya-Link using the provided 7-pin Cable.
  2. Connect Pitaya-Link to the PC using the provided USB-C Cable.
  3. A disk drive called PITAYA-LINK will be automatically detected by the computer.


Pitaya-Link allows programming of your target MCU in the following two very simple ways:

  • Intuitive Drag-And-Drop programming
  • Using the pyocd executable

Drag-and-drop programming

Drag-And-Drop is an optional intuitive programming feature. It allows programming of your target MCU by dragging and dropping a file ( .hex -format) onto the PITAYA-LINK drive.

There is no need to install application software. Anyone that can drag and drop a file to a USB memory stick can now program the target board.

Using the pyocd executable

The pyocd command line tool gives you total control over your device with these subcommands:

  • gdbserver: GDB remote server allows you to debug using gdb via either the console or several GUI debugger options.
  • load: Program files of various formats into flash or RAM.
  • erase: Erase part or all of an MCU's flash memory.
  • pack: Manage CMSIS Device Family Packs that provide additional target device support.
  • commander: Interactive REPL control and inspection of the MCU.
  • server: Share a debug probe with a TCP/IP server.
  • reset: Hardware or software reset of a device.
  • rtt: Stream Segger RTT IO with any debug probe.
  • list: Show connected devices.

You can get additional help by adding --help option.

To load/erase the nRF52840-based target, open up a terminal and run:

pyocd load -t nrf52840 firmware.hex
pyocd load -t nrf52840 --base-address 0x1000 firmware.bin
pyocd erase -t nrf52840 --chip

Explore Further

Now that you are familiar with the Pitaya-Link, it's time to explore more tutorials available below: