This is a Nordic Semiconductor system on chip with a 2.4 GHz radio and a Cortex-M0 processor.
The hardware Bluetooth baseband provides raw BLE packets in a frame buffer. Nordic provides the S110 softdevice which implements a Bluetooth Low Energy stack. It also supports the proprietary protocol spoken by nRF24L01+ and nRF24LE1.
Nordic has evaluation and development kits available for $99. These are highly recommended for anyone who wants to work with nRF51822 because they give you access to the full datasheets, reference manual, SDKs and tools.
The development kits have two boards that are meant to plug into the nRFgo platform, as well as a small version of the Segger J-Link debugger that uses the standard ARM 10 pin 50 mil header. These boards are useful but a little difficult to power, unless you have the more expensive nRFgo board.
The evaluation kit is probably a better choice for most people. It includes a board with every GPIO broken out, a CR2032 holder, and an on-board debugger.
The standalone J-Link is a great debugger. There is a cheaper version for educational and non-commercial use.
First blinking test KiCad files
This is a simple breakout board with an nRF51823 chip, Johanson integrated balun, chip antenna, the DC/DC converter to save battery life, two pushbuttons and two LEDs. Every analog pin is broken out, and all peripherals can be mapped to these pins. The S110 Bluetooth LE softdevice works well.
The board uses mostly 0603 components, and only a single 0402 that is in the RF path.
Power can be provided from a CR2032 holder on the bottom or through the pins. There is currently no reverse polarity protection.
For more detail:HackManhattan’s Nordic nRF51822 breakout board