An interview with Simon Monk, author of Programming the Pico #Python #MicroPython #RaspberryPiPico @simonmonk2

Author and maker Dr. Simon Monk recently published the book Programming the Pico: Learn Coding and Electronics with the Raspberry Pi Pico. Adafruit asked Simon some questions about himself and the book:

Is this your first book?

No, until recently I was a full-time author, writing quite a lot of books about Arduino, Raspberry Pi and the micro:bit. I’ve also contributed Arduino and Raspberry Pi lessons to the Adafruit Learning System.

What do you do, a little about yourself, etc.

I’m still writing a few books, mostly because I like doing it, but these days, most of my time is spent on the business ( that I started with my wife Linda. We manufacture and wholesale kits and add-ons for Raspberry Pi, micro:bit and general electronics. We have a small-scale pick and place line for manufacturing our own circuit boards and I enjoy learning how to use the machines, as well as my main function which is to design new products.

What inspired you to write a book on the Pico and Python?

I really like the Pico’s bare-bones approach. It’s a great fit for maker projects where as the Arduino Mini or Nanos might once have been the best choice. I also think the inclusion of a buck-boost regulator that allows you to power it from a wide voltage range is a great idea. With so many people learning Python at school or college, when it comes to learning embedded programming it makes sense to start with MicroPython or CircuitPython.

Who is your target audience? Who do you think will benefit most from this?

I think of my reader as a maker, or hobbyist, who does not necessarily know anything about either programming or electronics. I have written similar, very popular, books to this for Arduino and Raspberry Pi, and I have tried to keep the same approach of writing a book that also teaches Python and some electronic basics, without making it too much of a text book.

Why write a book on Python on Pico with other resources available in the community? Why not blog posts or a video series? Or do you plan on doing some videos and more later for the book?

There are a huge number of good resources out there. And, that’s one of the reasons I’m not a full-time writer any more. It has become harder and harder to make a living just writing books. I’d like to think that there is still a place for a well written and structured book that brings together all the knowledge that you need into one place. When I need to learn about something new, I buy a book about it, rather than do a video course. And, as I am fond of saying, buying a paper book is a great way of sequestering some carbon!

Does one need a particular background to follow along? Do you have any recommendations?

No, I’d say the book stands on its own. MonkMakes also makes a kit of parts, which makes it easier to get the bits you need to make the breadboard projects.

What’s your favorite chapter?

Probably the one on Python Lists and Dictionaries. I illustrate this with a Morse code example that I gradually build up into a translator that uses the built-in LED on the Pico, and I just think it came together really well.

You’ve written books with the micro:bit. What do you think are some key differences that readers should keep in mind in deciding to get a micro:bit or a Pico? Likewise, what do you think are some of the commonalities?

Both are great boards. The micro:bit is very much targeted towards the education community, whereas the Pico is much more of a board for Makers. The micro:bit’s most natural programming environment is the Makecode block programming environment, that makes it more accessible and appealing to younger users.

After finishing the book, what is the next step for the reader?

I would like to see my readers gaining the confidence to strike out with some simple projects of their own, perhaps using projects in the book as a starting point.

Are you planning any additional books in the future?

Following the death of my co-author Stan Gibilescu, on Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics, I have signed with McGraw-Hill to write the next edition of this much loved book of Stan’s.

Thank you Dr. Monk for your responses!

You can find Programming the Pico: Learn Coding and Electronics with the Raspberry Pi Pico on Amazon.

See more from Dr. Monk: Website: and Twitter: @simonmonk2.

You can see his hardware products via MonkMakes Ltd. at, and from distributors worldwide.

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.