The nRF52840 Dongle is a small, low-cost USB dongle that supports Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, ZigBee, 802.15.4, ANT and 2.4 GHz proprietary protocols. The Dongle is the perfect target hardware for use with nRF Connect for Desktop as it is low-cost but still support all the short range wireless standards used with Nordic devices. The dongle has been designed to be used as a wireless HW device together with nRF Connect for Desktop. For other use cases please do note that there is no debug support on the Dongle, only support for programming the device and communicating through USB.
It is supported by most of the nRF Connect for Desktop apps and will automatically be programmed if needed. In addition custom applications can be compiled and downloaded to the Dongle. It has a user programmable RGB LED, a green LED, a user programmable button as well as 15 GPIO accessible from castellated solder points along the edge. Example applications are available in the nRF5 SDK under the board name PCA10059.
The nRF52840 Dongle is supported by nRF Connect for Desktop as well as programming through nRFUtil.
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With Nordic software this can be a spectrum analyzer, beacon, beacon scanner, development tool for other beacons (to download software over-the-air), lots of other uses. It isn't best for development of software to run on the on-board chip, though I gather that is possible. I mainly used the Connect tool, monitoring and connecting to beacons.