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The Raspberry Pi foundation changed single-board computing when they released the Raspberry Pi computer, now they’re ready to do the same for microcontrollers with the release of the brand new Raspberry Pi Pico. This low-cost microcontroller board features a powerful new chip, the RP2040, and all the fixin’s to get started with embedded electronics projects at a stress-free price.
The Pico is 0.825″ x 2″ and can have headers soldered in for use in a breadboard or perfboard, or can be soldered directly onto a PCB with the castellated pads. There’s 20 pads on each side, with groups of general purpose input-and-output (GPIO) pins interleaved with plenty of ground pins. All of the GPIO pins are 3.3V logic, and are not 5V-safe so stick to 3V! You get a total of 25 GPIO pins (technically there are 26 but IO #15 has a special purpose and should not be used by projects), 3 of those can be analog inputs (the chip has 4 ADC but one is not broken out). There are no true analog output (DAC) pins.
On the slim green board is minimal circuitry to get you going: A 5V to 3.3V power supply converter, single green LED on GP25, boot select button, RP2040 chip with dual-core Cortex M0, 2 MegaBytes of QSPI flash storage, and crystal.
Inside the RP2040 is a ‘permanent ROM’ USB UF2 bootloader. What that means is when you want to program new firmware, you can hold down the BOOTSEL button while plugging it into USB (or pulling down the RUN/Reset pin to ground) and it will appear as a USB disk drive you can drag the firmware onto. Folks who have been using Adafruit products will find this very familiar – we use the technique on all our native-USB boards. Just note you don’t double-click reset, instead hold down BOOTSEL during boot to enter the bootloader!
The RP2040 is a powerful chip, which has the clock speed of our M4 (SAMD51), and two cores that are equivalent to our M0 (SAMD21). Since it is an M0 chip, it does not have a floating point unit, or DSP hardware support – so if you’re doing something with heavy floating-point math, it will be done in software and thus not as fast as an M4. For many other computational tasks, you’ll get close-to-M4 speeds!
For peripherals, there are two I2C controllers, two SPI controllers, and two UARTs that are multiplexed across the GPIO – check the pinout for what pins can be set to which. There are 16 PWM channels, each pin has a channel it can be set to (ditto on the pinout).
You might think of computers as things you stick on your desk and type on, and the Raspberry Pi Pico is certainly one type of computer, but it’s not the only type. In this fun but comprehensive book, you’ll learn all about microcontrollers – small processing units with a bit of memory that are good at controlling other hardware.
Coming soon! Sign up to be notified as soon as we get RP2040 chips to manufacture!
A new chip means a new ItsyBitsy, and the Raspberry Pi RP2040 is no exception. When we saw this chip we thought “this chip is going to be awesome when we give it the ItsyBitsy teensy-weensy Treatment” and so we did! This Itsy’ features the RP2040, and all niceties you know and love about the ItsyBitsy family
What’s smaller than a Feather but larger than a Trinket? It’s an Adafruit ItsyBitsy RP2040 featuring the Raspberry Pi RP2040! Small, powerful, with a ultra fast duel Cortex M0+ processor running at 125 MHz – this microcontroller board is perfect when you want something very compact, with lots of horsepower and a bunch of pins. This Itsy has sports car speed, but SUV roominess with 4 MB of FLASH and 264KB of SRAM.
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