The Raspberry Pi Pico is a completely different microcontroller to the other Raspberry Pi 's. This is because the pico is not a complete Linux computer and is more similar to the Arduino microcontrollers. This Raspberry uses the RP2040 chip and has a nice price to start with microcontrollers.
It is the very first Raspberry microcontroller that uses the RP2040 chip and also uses a modified SoC system. It is a dual-core Arm Cortex M0+ chip that runs at 133MHz. Furthermore, the microcontroller contains 264KB of SRAM and 2MB of flash memory which is used to store your code, media and data.
In programming, the code must be written on a computer and then transferred to the microcontroller. The coding is done in C or C++. microPython is also a popular solution that is often used for educational purposes.
The Pico is certainly not inferior to its more powerful predecessors and in some cases even has more options than the regular Raspberry Pi 's. For example, the microcontroller has 3 analog inputs and a total of 6 different ports for serial communication. There are also a large number of GPIO and PWM connections.
With a Raspberry PI Pico it is possible to program most embedded systems, DIY projects or IoT devices. There are many code examples and code libraries to program sensors, LCD and OLED screens and other devices such as LED strips or small printers. The microcontroller has a relatively large printed circuit board, allowing for multiple connections. There are 20 connections on both sides of the printed circuit board.
The GPIO connections are intended as a digital input or output and can be used with other digital circuitry. With a GPIO the input of the position of a switch can be read or a relay can be controlled. The SPI, I2C and UART connections can be used to provide communication between microcontrollers, sensors, actuators or other devices.
Analog inputs can be used for accurate analog voltage measurements between 0 and 3.3V.
The PWM can also be used for pulse width modulation such as controlling the brightness of an LED or the speed of a servo motor. Furthermore, PWM can also be used for simple audio.
As a comparison we use the very popular Arduino UNO. If we look purely at the connections, we notice that they are very similar. The Raspberry offers more digital inputs than the Arduino . Also, there are additional programmable pins that can be configured to simulate other interfaces/protocols. They can be programmed so that complex tasks can be moved to a background process.
Raspberry Pi Pico
6 (10 bits)
3 (12 bit)
Generic I/O (GPIO)
Serial communication via SPI
Serial communication via I²C/TWI
Pulse width modulation
3 hardware interrupts and 1 serial port
8 state machines and 2 serial ports
If we compare the processors, we see that the processor of the Raspberry is at a higher level than the Arduino . The Rapsberry runs at a maximum of 133MHz which is much faster than the Arduino 's 16MHz. In addition, this Raspberry contains 264KB of SRAM compared to the meager 2KB of the Arduino UNO.
Python programming on the Pi Pico is not quite the same as on the regular Pi. The Raspberry Pi Pico uses the programming languages C, C++ or mycroPython. C and C++ are a bit more difficult to learn than microPython, which is based on Python and relatively easy to learn.