Troubleshooting info

Common Problems

Attribute dependency

The nRF24L01 has 3 key features.

  1. auto_ack feature provides transmission verification by using the RX nRF24L01 to automatically and immediately send an acknowledgment (ACK) packet in response to received payloads. auto_ack does not require dynamic_payloads to be enabled.


    With the auto_ack feature enabled, you get:

    • cyclic redundancy checking (crc) automatically enabled

    • to change amount of automatic re-transmit attempts and the delay time between them. See the arc and ard attributes.

  2. dynamic_payloads feature allows either TX/RX nRF24L01 to be able to send/receive payloads with their size written into the payloads’ packet. With this disabled, both RX/TX nRF24L01 must use matching payload_length attributes. dynamic_payloads does not require auto_ack to be enabled.

  3. ack feature allows the MCU to append a payload to the ACK packet, thus instant bi-directional communication. A transmitting ACK payload must be loaded into the nRF24L01’s TX FIFO buffer (done using load_ack()) BEFORE receiving the payload that is to be acknowledged. Once transmitted, the payload is released from the TX FIFO buffer.


    This ack feature requires the auto_ack and dynamic_payloads features enabled.

FIFO Capacity

Remember that the nRF24L01’s FIFO (First-In, First-Out) buffers have 3 levels. This means that there can be up to 3 payloads waiting to be read (RX) and up to 3 payloads waiting to be transmit (TX). Notice there are separate FIFO buffers sending & receiving (respectively mentioned in this documentation as TX FIFO & RX FIFO).

Each of the 3 levels in the FIFO buffers can only store a maximum of 32 bytes. If you receive 2 payloads with a length of 4 bytes each, then there is only 1 level of the RX FIFO buffers left unoccupied.

Pipes vs Addresses vs Channels


Please review the Multiceiver example as a demonstration of proper addressing using all pipes (on the same channel).


You should think of the data pipes as a “parking spot” for your payload. There are only six data pipes on the nRF24L01, thus it can simultaneously “listen” to a maximum of 6 other nRF24L01 radios. However, it can only “talk” to 1 other nRF24L01 at a time.


The specified address is not the address of an nRF24L01 radio, rather it is more like a path that connects the endpoints. When assigning addresses to a data pipe, you can use any 5 byte long address you can think of (as long as the first byte of the bytearray is unique among simultaneously broadcasting addresses), so you’re not limited to communicating with only the same 6 nRF24L01 radios.


Finally, the radio’s channel is not be confused with the radio’s pipes. Channel selection is a way of specifying a certain radio frequency (frequency = [2400 + channel] MHz). Channel defaults to 76 (like the arduino library), but options range from 0 to 125 – that’s 2.4 GHz to 2.525 GHz. The channel can be tweaked to find a less occupied frequency amongst Bluetooth, WiFi, or other ambient signals that use the same spectrum of frequencies.

Settings that must Match

For successful transmissions, most of the endpoint transceivers’ settings/features must match. These settings/features include:

Settings that do not need to Match

In fact the only attributes that aren’t required to match on both endpoint transceivers would be

The ask_no_ack feature can be used despite the settings/features configuration (see send() & write() function parameters for more details).

About the lite version

New in version 1.2.0.

This library contains a “lite” version of titled It has been developed to save space on microcontrollers with limited amount of RAM and/or storage (like boards using the ATSAMD21). The following functionality has been removed from the lite version:

  • The FakeBLE, RF24Network, and RF24Mesh classes are not compatible with the module.

  • is_plus_variant is removed, meaning the lite version is not compatibility with the older non-plus variants of the nRF24L01.

  • address() removed.

  • print_details() removed. However you can use the following function to dump all available registers’ values (for advanced users):

    # let `nrf` be the instantiated RF24 object
    def dump_registers(end=0x1e):
        for i in range(end):
            if i in (0xA, 0xB, 0x10):
                print(hex(i), "=", nrf._reg_read_bytes(i))
            elif i not in (0x18, 0x19, 0x1a, 0x1b):
                print(hex(i), "=", hex(nrf._reg_read(i)))
  • dynamic_payloads applies to all pipes, not individual pipes. This attribute will return a bool instead of an int. set_dynamic_payloads() and get_dynamic_payloads() have been removed.

  • payload_length applies to all pipes, not individual pipes. set_payload_length() and get_payload_length() have been removed.

  • load_ack() is available, but it will not throw exceptions for malformed buf or invalid pipe_number parameters. Rather any call to load_ack() with invalid parameters will have no affect on the TX FIFO.

  • crc removed. 2-bytes encoding scheme (CRC16) is always enabled.

  • auto_ack removed. This is always enabled for all pipes. Pass ask_no_ack parameter as True to send() or write() to disable automatic acknowledgement for TX operations.

  • is_lna_enabled removed as it only affects non-plus variants of the nRF24L01.

  • pa_level is available, but it will not accept a list or tuple.

  • start_carrier_wave(), & stop_carrier_wave() removed. These only perform a test of the nRF24L01’s hardware. rpd is still available.

  • All comments and docstrings removed, meaning help() will not provide any specific information. Exception prompts have also been reduced and adjusted accordingly.

  • Cannot switch between different radio configurations using context manager (the The with statement blocks). It is advised that only one RF24 object be instantiated when RAM is limited (less than or equal to 32KB).

  • last_tx_arc attribute removed because it is only meant for troubleshooting.

  • allow_ask_no_ack attribute removed because it is only provided for the Si24R1 chinese clone.

  • set_auto_retries() & get_auto_retries() removed. Use ard & arc attributes instead.

Testing nRF24L01+PA+LNA module

The following are semi-successful test results using a nRF24L01+PA+LNA module:

The Setup

I wrapped the PA/LNA module with electrical tape and then foil around that (for shielding) while being very careful to not let the foil touch any current carrying parts (like the GPIO pins and the soldier joints for the antenna mount). Then I wired up a PA/LNA module with a 3V regulator (L4931 with a 2.2 µF capacitor between Vout & GND) using my ItsyBitsy M4 5V (USB) pin going directly to the L4931 Vin pin. The following are experiences from running simple, ack, & stream examples with a reliable nRF24L01+ (no PA/LNA) on the other end (driven by a Raspberry Pi 2):

Results (ordered by pa_level settings)

  • 0 dBm: master() worked the first time (during simple example) then continuously failed (during all examples). slave() worked on simple & stream examples, but the opposing master() node reporting that ACK packets (without payloads) were not received from the PA/LNA module; slave() failed to send ACK packet payloads during the ack example.

  • -6 dBm: master() worked consistently on simple, ack, & stream example. slave() worked reliably on simple & stream examples, but failed to transmit any ACK packet payloads in the ack example.

  • -12 dBm: master() worked consistently on simple, ack, & stream example. slave() worked reliably on simple & stream examples, but failed to transmit some ACK packet payloads in the ack example.

  • -18 dBm: master() worked consistently on simple, ack, & stream example. slave() worked reliably on simple, ack, & stream examples, meaning all ACK packet payloads were successfully transmit in the ack example.

I should note that without shielding the PA/LNA module and using the L4931 3V regulator, no TX transmissions got sent (including ACK packets for the auto_ack feature).


The PA/LNA modules seem to require quite a bit more power to transmit. The L4931 regulator that I used in the tests boasts a 300 mA current limit and a typical current of 250 mA. While the ItsyBitsy M4 boasts a 500 mA max, it would seem that much of that is consumed internally. Since playing with the pa_level is a current saving hack (as noted in the datasheet), I can only imagine that a higher power 3V regulator may enable sending transmissions (including ACK packets – with or without ACK payloads attached) from PA/LNA modules using higher pa_level settings. More testing is called for, but I don’t have an oscilloscope to measure the peak current draws.