Hi Guys! I welcome you on board. In this post today, we’ll study What is Raspberry Pi Pico? We’ll also detail Raspberry Pi Pico Pinout, Specs, Projects & Datasheet.
Raspberry Pi Pico is a little different from other modules introduced by Raspberry Pi Foundation. This unit is similar to Arduino Nano and is called a microcontroller board that incorporates a powerful RP2040 chip. This is different from other single-board computers that fall under the Raspberry Pi series. It is not a computer but a microcontroller board.
I suggest you buckle up as I’ll explain Raspberry Pi Pico in detail.
Let’s get started.
What is Raspberry Pi Pico?
Raspberry Pi Pico is a microcontroller board (released on 21 Jan 2021) mainly developed for robotics and embedded applications. Unlike other Raspberry Pi modules, this board is not a full computer.
Pico is the most economical board among other Raspberry Pi modules. At the time of writing this article, you can get this device in only $4 which is a cost-effective solution to your electronic needs.
This tiny board incorporates 26 GPIO pins that you can configure either as an input or as output. Moreover, RP2040 is added to the board that is considered as the first in-house microcontroller introduced by Raspberry Pi.
Mostly the RP2040 microcontroller pins are taken to the user IO pins on the right and left edge of the module. While four RP2040 IO are employed for internal functions i.e. on-board Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS), driving an LED, power control, and sensing the system voltages.
Dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ processor is added to the board that comes with flexible clock frequency up to 133 MHz. This frequency is required for the synchronization of all internal functions. The SRAM of this unit is 264KB and flash memory is 2MB that is employed to store different files.
Pico board comes with an on-board buck-boost SMPS that can produce the desired 3.3 volts (to power RP2040 and external circuitry) through a range of input voltages (~1.8 to 5.5V).
This way you can power the module with different flexible sources including 3 AA cells in series and lithium-Ion cell. Furthermore, you can easily integrate battery chargers with the Pico power chain.
This module comes with different communication protocols including 2x I2C, 2x SPI, and 2x UART which are employed to develop the connection with the external devices. Moreover, there are 16 controllable PWM channels and three 12-bit ADC incorporated on the board.
The MicroPython is the official language supported for this module, however, you can also write codes in C or C++, but the former is officially recommended.
As mentioned earlier this unit is more like a microcontroller board, it lacks Ethernet and HDMI that are included in other Pi modules like Raspberry Pi 4.
There is one micro-USB port included in this module. Moreover, there is no wireless or Bluetooth added to this module.
Know that, header pins can be soldered to the Pico module that you can use in a breadboard.
Raspberry Pi Pico Pinout
The following figure shows the Raspberry Pi Pico pinout.
Raspberry Pi Pico Pin Description
Hope you’ve got a brief intro to the Raspberry Pi Pico. This section is reserved for the description of each pin incorporated into this single-board computer.
Power and Ground in RPi Pico
This board comes with four types of power pins.
PIN40 VBUS (USB input voltage, typically 5V)
PIN39 VSYS (used to the power system, can be in range 1.8V-5.5V)
PIN36 3V3 offers 3.3V
Total eight ground pins on board that provide 0V.
GPIO Pins in Raspberry Pi Pico
There are 26 multifunction GPIO pins employed for connection with external devices. These pins are used either as general-purpose input or general-purpose output pins. Moreover, there are 3 analog inputs among these GPIO pins.
SPI Pins in Raspberry Pi Pico
There are two SPI (serial peripheral interface) communication protocols are included in this Raspberry Pi Pico module. This protocol is used to develop the communication between the controller and other peripheral devices like shift registers and sensors.
There are two pins for SPI communication… i.e. MOSI (master output slave input) and MISO (master input slave output). This communication protocol falls under master-slave communication protocol.
I2C Pins in Raspberry Pi Pico
There are two I2C communication protocols included in this module. This protocol contains two pins SDL and SCL.
The SCL is the serial clock line that guarantees the synchronization of data transfer over the I2C bus while the SDL, on the other hand, is the serial data pin that contains the data while.
UART Pins in Raspberry Pi Pico
The Raspberry Pi Pico contains two UART serial communication protocols. The UART serial port carries two pins Rx and Tx.
The Rx is the receiving pin that guarantees the receiving of serial data and the Tx is the transmission pin that ensures the transmission of serial data.
Raspberry Pi Pico Datasheet
Before applying this module to your electrical project, it’s wise to read the Raspberry Pi Pico datasheet. The datasheet explains the main characteristics of the device. Click the link below to download the Raspberry Pi Pico datasheet.
Raspberry Pi Pico Specs
The following are the Raspberry Pi Pico specs.
21 mm × 51 mm form factor
Comes with 26 multifunction GPIO pins, including 3 analog inputs
Features Dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ processor, the flexible clock running up to 133 MHz
The on-chop SRAM is 264KB
Low-power sleep and dormant modes
Operating temperature range -20°C to +85°C
RP2040 microcontroller chip designed by Raspberry Pi in the UK
Contains 1 × USB 1.1 controller and PHY, with host and device support
On-board QSPI Flash is 2MB
Drag-and-drop programming using mass storage over USB
8 × Programmable I/O (PIO) state machines for custom peripheral support
Accurate on-chip clock
Accelerated integer and floating-point libraries on-chip
The castellated module allows soldering directly to carrier boards
Raspberry Pi Pico vs Arduino
Before the arrival of Arduino Pi Pico, there was a stark difference between Raspberry Pi and Arduino modules. The former is a single-board computer that can perform some typical functions like a regular computer while the latter is a module based on a microcontroller that uses one program at a time.
However, with the inception of Raspberry Pi Pico in 2021 that incorporates RP2040 SoC, which is a microcontroller, the difference between these two modules is not extensive anymore. Because like Arduino, Raspberry Pi Pico is a board based on a microcontroller.
Both Arduino and Raspberry Pi Pico units are introduced for the embedded system and automation applications that don’t involve human interference once the module is interfaced with the electronic circuitry. You can use Pico alone or with the combination with Arduino modules to develop different projects related to Artificial Intelligence.
Million of Arduino Units have been sold since its inception in 2005. The Pico is recently introduced in the market by Raspberry Pi Foundation and the response it earned from the targeted audience is amazing. Both modules are different in terms of power consumption, value, functionality, and price.
The Pico module supports the MicroPython language while the code for Arduino boards is written in Arduino.IDE software.
There is another difference between Pico and Arduino boards that the former comes unsoldered while the latter comes pre-soldered except DIP Arduino boards like Nano 33 IoT and Arduino Nano Every. This is, however, not a big deal as you can solder your pins to the Pico board with the soldering iron.
So which one to use… Pico or Arduino?
Pico stays ahead of Arduino in terms of ease of use, price, documentation, and an amazing selection of GPIO pins. At $4 you’ll get the tiny module that you can use for your microcontroller projects.
Raspberry Pi Pico Applications
The following are the Raspberry Pi Pico Applications.
Arduino Metal Detector
Real-Time Face Detection
GSM Based Projects
Virtual Reality Applications
Home Automation and Defense Systems
Automation and Robotics
That’s all for today. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. If you have any questions you can pop your comment in the section below. I’m happy and willing to help you the best way I can. Feel free to share your valuable feedback and suggestions around the content we. They help us produce quality content customized to your exact needs and requirements. Thank you for reading this article.
I am Syed Zain Nasir, the founder of The Engineering Projects (TEP). I am a
programmer since 2009 before that I just search things, make small projects and now I am sharing my
knowledge through this platform. I also work as a freelancer and did many projects related to
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