It seems only yesterday I first mentioned the new Raspberry Pi Pico. At this time of its introduction, I wondered two things:
- Why did they use the “Raspberry Pi” name for a new piece of hardware that does not run Linux. It was closer to an Arduino than a Pi. I expect this naming will cause confusion, since folks have had years learning what a “Pi” can do (video, audio, keyboard, mouse, etc.) and the Pico does none of that.
- Why did they bother with a $4 Pico, if a PiZero can be had for only $1 more.
#2 is answered with “because folks like me dislike the slowness of booting a full OS and all the hassles of dealing with Linux for an embedded project.” However, I already use Arduinos for that purpose. The Pico just seemed more like the larger Arduino models.
Side Note: To me, and many others, “Arduino” will always mean “Arduino Uno“, the tiny and cheap Arduino with 4K of RAM. Because it was the version that started things up, the name Arduino is mostly associated with these smaller limited models. But, Arduino even makes more powerful versions that can run Linux.
#1 I think is “just because it will cause confusion.” I think the same thing about the “new” Atari VCS. (If you didn’t know, there is a new Atari out — and it is called the same thing the original Atari VCS was called back in 1977. No confusion there. ;-)
But I digress…
I recently received a $45 GEEKPI BASIC Pico kit to review. You can find it on Amazon (see that link).
Reading through the specs of this $4 circuit board, I find it is pretty impressive. Speeds up to 133MHz, 264K of RAM, and 2MB of Flash storage. It has enough power, memory and storage to run things like Python, which a 4K Arduino just cannot do.
The included manual had me download a Python IDE, then plug up and connect to the Pico with a USB cable. I could then type and run my first “Hello World” program in Python. You can even copy the “main.py” python script to the Pico so it will power up and run on it’s own. (A few other steps were needed to install MicroPython on the Pico, but they were easy and only took a few minutes.)
The initial downside is that the Pico does not come with the header pins soldered on. I had to turn to a coworker to do this for me so I could plug it into the breadboard and hook up some wires for a blinking LED example.
I expect at some point (if not already) you will be able to buy a model with those pins already soldered on, much like you can do with a Pi Zero.
I do not know when I’ll have time to fully explore the “power of the Pico,” but it looks like it will be a fun time. It appears to be quite capable with I/O and protocols (SPI, I2C, UARTs, etc.).
More to come…