Getting started with the Icarus IoT Dev Board (nRF9160)


This page is a quick-start guide to get you started on using your new Icarus IoT Dev Board, based on the Nordic nRF9160. If you think we are missing some information below, please shoot us an email at and we will add it to the guide.

About your board

Your board comes pre-programmed with the following:

  • Modem firmware v1.0.0 from Nordic
  • Secure Partition Manager (SPM) with default peripherals plus watchdog unlocked, compiled for the Icarus board (hex available here). In most common applications you can keep using this SPM.
  • Firmware Application that initializes peripherals and starts an AT Host. This firmware is used during our “test & provisioning” process, but you can use it as well if you would like, via the USB Virtual Com, using the terminal of your choice with baud rate of 115200. The AT Host will redirect all strings sent from/to the modem.
  • Certificates for making possible to enroll to our online IoT Platform in the future if you wish (beta version is coming very soon). These certificates are provisioned but using them is of course optional. You can safely delete them if you are sure you will never request access to our platform.

Prepare your programmer

Plug-in your TagConnect (TC2030-CTX-NL) to your J-Link or the J-Link OB that is on your Nordic nRF9160-DK.

Nordic nRF9160-DK

If you are using the nRF9160-DK, it might be a good idea to switch the “nRF52-nRF91” switch to point to nRF52. That way, if something goes wrong with the connection to the Icarus board (eg in the improbable case that the TagConnect connector is not properly touching the programming pads), you will get a message from Segger about the device not being the correct one, instead of silently uploading to the DK’s nRF9160.


Follow Nordic’s installation guide to install ZephyrOS, the nrf SDK and related libraries:‍

  • Install or update the nRF Connect for Desktop tool 
  • On the "Add/remove apps" tab, please choose to install the "Getting Started Assistant" and the “Programmer” apps 
  • Launch the Getting Started Assistant app and follow the instructions for installing the development tools and downloading the nRF Connect SDK

Please make sure you are using the tag v1.0.0 of the nrf repository.

Board installation

While here at Actinius we are getting everything prepared for submitting them to the official Zephyr distribution, some things need to be done manually for now:

  • Download the board definition files from here and unzip them into your zephyr folder, inside  “zephyr/boards/arm/”. Now you should have a new folder in there, named “actinius_icarus”. This contains a secure and a non-secure variant of the Icarus board definitions, with all partitions and standard peripheral definitions.
  • If you would like to re-compile the SPM yourself, you need to download this overlay and add it to your SPM folder (“nrf/samples/nrf9160/spm”).
  • That’s it! Now you can compile applications by selecting the new board definition folder, and choosing between the secure and non-secure variant.


Icarus External Pinouts

On-board Peripherals

Icarus on-board peripherals pins



The accelerometer on the board is the ST LIS2DH12 and it is already added in the Device Tree in the board definition files as device “lis2dh12-accel@19” with label “LIS2DH12-ACCEL”.

Battery Voltage Measurement

To measure the battery voltage level, there is a voltage divider connecting the Vbatt and the A0 pin as such:

Voltage divider on A0 for battery voltage measurement


For enabling the GPS, you need to connect an active external GPS antenna, with u.fl connector. The MAGPIO pin needs to be initialized, using the following AT command: "AT%XMAGPIO=1,0,0,1,1,1574,1577"


You can use any combination of LiPo battery, USB,  and/or VIN to power the board.Maximum VIN: 10v


The charger provides a maximum of 600 mA fast charge current, while it makes sure not to overload your USB or solar panel.


On the Icarus you can either use the on-board eSIM or your own nano SIM. There is a SIM Select pin to choose between the two. If you set the pin to HIGH or leave it uninitialized, then the on-board eSIM is used by the modem. If you set the pin to LOW then the nano SIM gets activated. Warning: only change the SIM Select before enabling the modem (i.e. before CFUN=1)

On-board eSIM

The Icarus comes with an on-board eSIM for LTE-M (and later NB-IoT) data connectivity, wherever supported by our Telecom Agreements in EU and US. We are providing you with 3 months and 10MB for free. While the management platform is under development, please contact us at to activate your eSIM.