SDK Setup (Mac OS)

This page is all about getting your Mac compiling code for the nRF9160 Feather. Run into trouble during the process? Post your questions on the community forum.

Installing IDE

  1. Install or use the code editor of your choice. I personally use Microsoft Visual Studio Code. The download link is here
  2. If you decide to use Visual Studio Code, make sure you install the C/C++ and Cortex-Debug extentions using the built in extension marketplace.

Installing SDK

  1. Install Python3. The easiest way is with Homebrew. Install brew first, then open a terminal and run:

    brew install python3 git cmake ninja wget
  2. Once complete, check to make sure that python3 is installed. Here's the example output. (Your version may be different.)

    > python3 --version
    Python 3.8.6

    πŸ’‘Note: if you've freshly installed Homebrew or get an error that python3 is not found, you may have to add /usr/local/bin to your PATH. For example here's an entry for .bash_profile or .zshrc:

    export PATH=/usr/local/bin/:$PATH

    For a shell like fish you'll need:

    set -U fish_user_paths /usr/local/bin/ $fish_user_paths
  3. Also check that git is installed with:

    ❯ git --version
    git version 2.27.0
  4. Install west. West is the most important utility for using nRF Connect SDK & Zephyr. You'll become quite familliar with very soon.

    pip3 install west

    πŸ’‘Note: you can update west by issuing pip3 install -U west It will uninstall the version on your machine and replace it with the latest. (It won't do anything if you have the latest installed.)

  5. Now create a folder on your machine and call it nfed (short for nRF9160 Feather Examples and Drivers). Open a terminal to this folder and initialize nRF Connect SDK using west:

    cd ~
    mkdir nfed
    cd nfed
    west init -m --mr main
  6. Once your nRF Connect SDK compontents are downloaded, you'll need to fetch the remaining SDK:

    west update

    You'll see a bunch of output go by as west downloads dependencies using Git.

    Here's what your nfed folder should look like:

    ❯ tree -L 1
    β”œβ”€β”€ bootloader
    β”œβ”€β”€ build
    β”œβ”€β”€ latest
    β”œβ”€β”€ mbedtls
    β”œβ”€β”€ modules
    β”œβ”€β”€ nrf
    β”œβ”€β”€ nrf9160-feather
    β”œβ”€β”€ nrfxlib
    β”œβ”€β”€ test
    β”œβ”€β”€ tools
    └── zephyr
  7. Install the remaining python3 requirements by running these commands in your nfed directory.

    pip3 install -r zephyr/scripts/requirements.txt

The ARM Embedded Toolchain

  1. Install the toolchain by pulling it from ARM. Run these commands:

    cd ~
    wget ""
    tar xvfj gcc-arm-none-eabi-9-2019-q4-major-mac.tar.bz2
    rm gcc-arm-none-eabi-9-2019-q4-major-mac.tar.bz2

    Note for Catalina users you will get an error when running these utilities for the first time. You must allow them to be executed in your Security preferences.

    Error running ARM Toolchain

  2. Finally you'll need export a few important environment variables for things to work. For bash here's the entry for .bash_profile that I have:

    # Zephyr related
    export ZEPHYR_TOOLCHAIN_VARIANT=gnuarmemb
    export GNUARMEMB_TOOLCHAIN_PATH="~/gcc-arm-none-eabi-9-2019-q4-major"

    πŸ’‘Note: this should also work for .zshrc for those folks who are using newer versions of Mac OS (or just plain prefer zsh)

    For folks using fish you're going to use:

    set -Ux ZEPHYR_TOOLCHAIN_VARIANT gnuarmemb
    set -Ux GNUARMEMB_TOOLCHAIN_PATH "~/gcc-arm-none-eabi-9-2019-q4-major"

newtmgr (Used to load your application via USB serial bootloader)

  1. For loading code to your nRF9160 Feather, you'll need to download and copy a custom version of newtmgr to a folder in your PATH.

    cd ~/Downloads
    wget ""
    sudo mv newtmgr /usr/local/bin

    If you're not sure, /usr/local/bin/ is always a good spot for these types of binaries.

  2. Then you'll need to add your serial profile to make it easier to download/update your device:

    newtmgr conn add serial type=serial connstring='dev=/dev/tty.SLAB_USBtoUART,baud=1000000'

    If you have multiple Silicon Labs CP2102 connected to your machine your serial port may be named differently. I recommend you unplug all devices that could be named tty.SLAB_USBtoUART to ensure you're targeting the correct device during programming.

  3. Having trouble? You may have to install the drivers.

For more info in using newtmgr checkout the programming section of this documentation.

Testing it

You can quickly test if your SDK is set up correctly by checking out the samples.