New $4 microcontroller board called Raspberry Pi-Pico

The Raspberry Pi is one of the smallest and cheapest mini computers you can buy. It has an HDMI port, USB ports, and runs Ubuntu or other open-source operating systems like a champ.
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The new Raspberry Pi Pico, on the other hand, is like the CPU of a more complex machine. By itself, it can’t do much, but with a few add-ons, you can control robots, lights, and other DIY hacks. New $4 microcontroller board Raspberry Pi-Pico is available now.

Raspberry Pi Pico is a low-cost, high-performance microcontroller board with flexible digital interfaces. Whether you choose to use C/C++ SDK, or the official MicroPython port, everything you need to get started is here.

If you have forgotten what has been programmed into your Raspberry Pi Pico, and the program was built using our Pico C/C++ SDK, it will usually have a name and other useful information embedded into the binary. You can use the Picotool command line utility to find out these details.

You can use one Raspberry Pi Pico to debug another Pico. This is possible via picoprobe, an application that allows a Pico to act as a USB → SWD and UART converter. This makes it easy to use a Pico on non-Raspberry Pi platforms such as Windows, Mac, and Linux computers where you don’t have GPIOs to connect directly to your Pico.

Pico’s BOOTSEL mode lives in read-only memory inside the RP2040 chip, and can’t be overwritten accidentally. No matter what, if you hold down the BOOTSEL button when you plug in your Pico, it will appear as a drive onto which you can drag a new UF2 file. There is no way to brick the board through software. However, there are some circumstances where you might want to make sure your Flash memory is empty. You can do this by dragging and dropping a special UF2 binary onto your Pico when it is in mass storage mode.

You can’t really play Doom on it (yet) but you can use it for electronics experiments and other prototyping activities that the Raspberry Pi is already famous for. And according to Adams, it could be the first in a new line of boards powered by Raspberry Pi’s own silicon.

Find more news updates in the News section.

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