11 Options to the Raspberry Pi Pico

The discharge of the Raspberry Pi Pico was thrilling. Not solely was the Raspberry Pi Basis lastly transferring into the interest microcontroller market beforehand dominated by Arduino, nevertheless it was additionally doing it with its personal silicon.

The RP2040 System on Chip (SoC) is a very new processor for bodily computing, and scorching on the tails of the Raspberry Pi Pico's launch, it began displaying up on loads of different interest electronics boards too.

There's an RP2040 board on the market for nearly each use case, and this text covers 11 of one of the best alternate options to the Raspberry Pi Pico.

As quickly because the Pico was introduced, the hypothesis of an Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi rivalry started. In actuality, Arduino is simply as excited concerning the RP2040 as some other interest board producer and was among the many first to announce a devoted improvement board for it.

The Arduino Nano RP2040 Join provides much more performance than the Pi Pico, because it features a devoted ESP32 chip for connectivity (a powerful chip for DIY IoT in its own right), together with onboard sound and movement sensors.


These conversant in Arduino IDE will discover programming the Nano RP2020 Join a well-known expertise, nevertheless it's additionally appropriate with Adafruit's CircuitPython library.

Virtually the day after the specs of the Pi Pico have been launched, Adafruit introduced a number of boards it needed to make with the brand new chip. The Feather RP2040 is Adafruit's most simple RP2040 board, however do not let that put you off. It provides some key issues that the Pi Pico is lacking for just some extra {dollars}.

Firstly, it comes with 8 MB of SPI flash storage, 4 occasions as a lot because the Pico. You additionally get onboard LiPo battery charging and a STEMMA QT connector for solderless use with Qwiic, STEMMA QT, or Grove I2C peripherals.

In brief, it is easy to make use of proper out of the field, and you may comply with a beginner guide to the Pi Pico because it's appropriate with MicroPython and CircuitPython.

What if you need all of the performance of the Adafruit Feather RP2040 however in a smaller measurement? That is precisely what the QT Py RP2040 is: a tiny improvement board able to huge issues.

It isn't fairly a precise miniaturization of the Feather RP2040. Nevertheless, it nonetheless manages to suit 13 general-purpose enter/output (GPIO) pins into the combo, together with a NeoPixel RGB LED and a STEMMA QT connector. All for beneath $10.

At roughly the identical measurement as 1 / 4, that is the right board for individuals who like their interest electronics on the smaller aspect!

OK, that is the final Adafruit RP2040 board, we promise, however this could not be left off the checklist. By no means fear about discovering the fitting USB cable once more with the Adafruit Trinkey QT2040 RP2040 USB Key with Stemma QT.

It presents all the identical performance because the QT Py RP2040, however in a rugged USB key format. And as an added bonus, the bootloader key can double as a consumer button for testing code, or making a secret USB password machine!

SparkFun was virtually as fast to get an RP2040 board out as Adafruit, including RP2040 variants to its line of interest improvement kits. The Professional Micro is a small kind issue board with a full 30 GPIO header pair and a Qwiic connector on the tip.

If you're already utilizing SparkFun Qwiic sensors and peripherals, it is a nice choice to make a begin working with the RP2040 chipset. Do not forget, Qwiic connectors are appropriate with Adafruit's STEMMA QT breakout boards too!

SparkFun has additionally added the RP2040 to its MicroMod series, making it the right addition to any MicroMod setup.


If you're searching for the bigger sibling to the Professional Micro, the SparkFun Factor Plus RP2040 is among the many best-equipped small kind issue interest boards you may get. It has the identical form because the Adafruit Feather RP2040 and virtually similar specs, with one essential addition: a microSD card slot.

This provides a whole dimension to what could be carried out with the board, particularly when paired with the Qwiic connector and battery charging circuit. Tiny DIY digital photograph body, anybody?

Whereas some uncommon RP2040 boards have been all the time anticipated, the Cytron Maker Pi RP2040 presents an unbelievable quantity for little or no value. Highlights embrace twin DC motor drivers, 4 servo ports, seven Grove connectors, built-in battery charging, and an entire host of programmable LEDs and buttons.

Cramming a lot into one small PCB is spectacular, and anybody searching for an entire bundle for getting began with the RP2020 will discover this a lot simpler to make use of than the Raspberry Pi Pico. Grove connectors open you as much as your complete SeeedStudio line of solderless peripherals they usually work natively with the Grove Beginner Kit for Arduino.

What's that? Would you like one thing even smaller? Pimoroni has you coated with the Tiny 2040, a postage-stamp-sized USB Sort-C improvement board.

That is not a joke, both. It is precisely the dimensions of an ordinary UK postage stamp, however packs in 12 GPIO pins, 4 of which provide analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) for sensors, together with reset and boot buttons.

It is about as small as a interest DIY board can go, and someone has even ported CircuitPython to it, so it is tremendous straightforward to program, simply do not lose it!

If you wish to program your personal macro pad, the Pimoroni Keybow is for you. This model makes use of the identical RP2040 chip at its core, but in addition comes with 16 mechanical keys fitted with RGB LEDs for all of your customized keypad wants.

You're free to customise it as you want, with hot-swappable Cherry MX appropriate swap bays and a built-in pre-programmed CircuitPython library for creating each shortcut you possibly can think about!


Any new microcontroller checklist should include proof of retro gaming, and the PicoSystem is about as nostalgic and retro because it will get. Smaller than a NES controller, this RP2040 powered mini gaming system will match on a keyring.

There can be a improvement library for creating your personal video games, together with some straight out-of-the-box microcontroller gaming motion, all for lower than $80!

Machine studying on microcontrollers used to look unattainable, however now you possibly can practice and use neural networks on even tiny 8-bit MCUs. Fortunately, the RP2040 has a bit extra energy than that, and Arducam makes use of it to nice impact on its purpose-built Pico4ML board.

That includes a tiny digicam, microphone, and display setup, it is designed to be used with TFLite Micro—the department of Google's TensorFlow machine studying library geared toward engaged on low-powered microcontrollers.

Amazingly, voice and object recognition is already achievable on the RP2040, and new examples of what's potential with machine studying on restricted {hardware} arrive each day.

The RP2040: A Actually Helpful Chip

These are only a handful of boards created across the Raspberry Pi RP2040 chip, and there'll undoubtedly be many extra to return. This highly effective, low-cost microcontroller chip lends itself to a big number of use circumstances, together with a bunch of enjoyable tasks for the unique Raspberry Pi Pico board.

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