Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Pico

Everything you need to know about Raspberry Pi Pico in one comprehensive guide.

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Pico
raspberry pi pico

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Brief overview of Raspberry Pi Pico

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a new low cost microcontroller from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It is powered by a new, low-cost 32-bit, ARM Cortex-M0+ based microcontroller, which is available as a bare die or in package options.

At the heart of the Raspberry Pi Pico lies the RP2040 microcontroller. This 32-bit microcontroller is based on the ARM Cortex-M0+ architecture and offers impressive performance for its price and form factor. It features two 32-bit cores (which can be configured for single or dual core operation) running up to 125MHz, a powerful real-time clock, up to 264KB of internal RAM with crash-safe memory recovery, an optional EEPROM, and 16 analog inputs (with up to 12-bit resolution).

The Raspberry Pi Pico is designed for both physical prototyping and cost-sensitive commercial applications. It integrates flash memory, a power management unit, and a selection of general-purpose I/O pins to provide flexibility for those needing to interface with other devices. Its small size would also make it attractive to makers and hobbyists who are looking for a powerful board that can fit into tight spaces or fit into their projects.

As the Raspberry Pi Pico is based on an ARM processor, it has the capability to run operating systems such as Linux. Various open-source libraries are available for both the low-level (eg. GPIO) and high-level (eg. web page rendering) functions. This makes it possible to quickly get the board up and running, and provides a huge range of possibilities with regards to creating your own projects and applications.

Overall, the Raspberry Pi Pico is an impressive microcontroller board that offers a great amount of power for the price. It is perfect for makers and hobbyists who want a powerful board with plenty of features, as well as those who need to interface with other systems as part of their projects. If you're in the market for a microcontroller, the Raspberry Pi Pico is definitely worth checking out.

What is Raspberry Pi Pico used for?

The Raspberry Pi Pico can be used for various purposes in the realm of embedded systems and physical computing. Here are some common applications and uses of the Raspberry Pi Pico:

  • Learning and Education: The Pico is an excellent tool for learning about microcontrollers, programming, and electronics. Its low cost, simplicity, and compatibility with beginner-friendly programming languages like MicroPython make it accessible for students and beginners.
  • Prototyping: The Pico is ideal for prototyping projects before moving to more specialized hardware. Its GPIO pins allow for easy connection to sensors, actuators, and other components, enabling rapid prototyping and experimentation.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Projects: With its connectivity options and programmability, the Pico can be used to develop IoT devices. You can connect it to various sensors and use its GPIO pins to interact with the physical world while utilizing networking capabilities for data communication.
  • Automation and Control Systems: The Pico can be employed in home automation projects, robotics, and control systems. It can interface with motors, relays, switches, and other devices, allowing you to create custom automation solutions.
  • Data Logging and Monitoring: The Pico can collect data from sensors and log it to onboard memory or external storage devices. This makes it suitable for monitoring and logging environmental data, such as temperature, humidity, and light levels.
  • Wearable Electronics: Due to its compact size and low power consumption, the Pico is a suitable choice for wearable electronics projects. It can be used to create wearable devices, such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, or health monitoring devices.
  • Retro Gaming: The Pico can be utilized in retro gaming projects. With its programmability and GPIO pins, it can emulate retro gaming systems and connect to display screens, controllers, and audio components.
  • Custom Controllers and Interfaces: The Pico can be programmed to act as a custom controller or interface for specific applications. For example, it can be used to build a MIDI controller, a USB input device, or a custom keyboard.

What is the difference between Pico W and WH?

The first key difference between Pico W and WH stands in the overall purpose of those two power sources. Pico W stands for picowatt, and it is a measurement for electrical power. It is the system used to measure the electrical power of an electronic component or device and provides a much more accurate picture. On the other hand, the WH stands for Watt-Hours (or kilowatt-hours for larger energies) and is used mainly to measure the amount of energy that has been used by a device.

Another difference between the two is the way electricity is measured. Pico W is measured in terms of instantaneous power or watts, whereas WH measures the total energy used over time, or watt-hours. This distinction is important when accounting for power used over different time frames, since a device may require more power over a longer period of time than it would over a shorter one.

Finally, the most identifying feature that sets Pico W and WH apart is the unit of measurement. Pico W is measured in picowatts, or one-trillionth of a watt, while WH is measured in watt-hours, or one-thousandth of a Kilowatt-hour (kWh). As such, when these two are used in the same context, Pico W will usually refer to short term power usage, while WH is typically used to measure long term power consumption.

In conclusion, Pico W and WH are two different measurements used for recording electrical power and energy, respectively. The key difference is that Pico W measures instantaneous power and WH measures energy used over time. Additionally, while Pico W is measured in picowatts, WH is measured in watt-hours. As such, these two measurements can be used in tandem to identify the power and energy usage of a certain electronic device.

Programming Raspberry Pi Pico

MicroPython: MicroPython is a variant of the Python programming language optimized for microcontrollers. It offers a beginner-friendly and interactive programming experience. To program the Pico using MicroPython, you need to follow these steps:

a. Install MicroPython firmware: Download the MicroPython firmware for the Pico from the official website ( and flash it onto the Pico using a tool like Thonny or the Raspberry Pi Imager.

b. Connect to the Pico: Once the firmware is installed, connect the Pico to your computer via USB. It should appear as a removable storage device.

c. Write and upload MicroPython code: Create a Python script (.py) using a text editor or an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) like Thonny or Mu. Write your MicroPython code and save the file. Then, copy the file to the Pico's storage device. The code will run automatically on the Pico.

C/C++ Programming with SDK: If you prefer to work with C/C++ programming languages, you can use the official Raspberry Pi Pico Software Development Kit (SDK) and a suitable Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Here's an overview of the process:

a. Set up the SDK: Install the necessary tools and libraries for the Raspberry Pi Pico SDK. You can find detailed instructions on the official Raspberry Pi documentation website.

b. Create a C/C++ project: Use your preferred IDE, such as Visual Studio Code, to create a new project and configure it for Pico development. You will need to include the Pico SDK and set up the build system accordingly.

c. Write and build your code: Write your C/C++ code to interact with the Pico's hardware peripherals using the Pico SDK's APIs. Build the project using the provided build system or CMake.

d. Flash the program: Once the code is built, use a suitable flashing tool like picotool or Raspberry Pi Imager to flash the compiled binary onto the Pico.

How many watts does a Raspberry Pi Pico use?

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a microcontroller board to rival the popular Arduino platform. It operates at up to 133MHz and only consumes around 0.5mA. In terms of power consumption, it only draws around 0.8W. This is impressive considering the range of features the board is able to offer. Power consumption figures for the board can vary, depending on what tasks are being undertaken as well as the mode of operation.

For example, when the board is running in its default RISC-V mode, the power consumption is very low at around 0.8W. This is because the board was primarily designed for low power operations. However, if you are using the Pico for more intensive tasks like running Python scripts, you can expect power consumption figures to be higher.

It is also important to understand that the Raspberry Pi Pico's power consumption may also vary based on which accessories you have connected to the board. For instance, if you are using the Pico as a gateway for connecting to a network, then you may need to use additional components in order to make the connection. This additional power draw will add to the board's overall power consumption. It is important to bear this in mind when budgeting the power required from the power supply.

Overall, the Raspberry Pi Pico's power consumption is very low compared to other microcontroller boards. This makes it one of the better choices for hobbyists and professionals alike who want to create low power projects. When budgeting the power supply, bear in mind that the board's power consumption may vary depending on the additional components it is connected to.

raspberry pi pico pros and cons

Raspberry Pi Pico, launched in 2021 by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is a microcontroller board based on the RP2040 microchip. It provides a powerful but affordable platform to designers, engineers, and hobbyists looking to get into the world of embedded programming and engineering. As it runs on the popular Python 3 programming language, it has plenty of potential in the world of robotics and home automation. Let's look at the pros and cons of Raspberry Pi Pico.


  • Low power consumption Thanks to the efficient chip design of the RP2040, Raspberry Pi Pico only requires 170mA of current when running at full load. This makes it a great choice for battery-operated projects that need to conserve power.
  • Low cost For only $4, Raspberry Pi Pico offers a very affordable solution to anyone getting started with Python 3 programming and robotics.
  • Flexible The extensive Pico software library provides plenty of choice for users. Libraries are available for interfacing with various sensors and displays, which can be combined to create unique projects.
  • Easy to use Raspberry Pi Pico is arguably one of the easier microcontrollers to use. The powerful software library, along with its compatibility with popular platforms such as RP2040 and Python 3, make it a great choice for beginners and experienced users alike.


  • Limited memory With only 2MB of RAM and 16MB of Flash memory, Raspberry Pi Pico may not be suitable for applications that require a lot of memory.
  • Limited support As Raspberry Pi Pico is a relatively new product, users may encounter problems when trying to find compatible components and libraries.
  • No WiFi Raspberry Pi Pico does not have an integrated WiFi module, making it more suitable for projects that only require local connections.


Ever since its introduction to the public in 2020, Raspberry Pi Pico has been making headlines. The do-it-yourself single board processor has been praised for its versatility, affordability and its use of the Pico-8 interpreter.

Overall, the Raspberry Pi Pico has proven to be an easily customizable and innovative platform for a wide range of applications. With its low cost and incredible power, the Raspberry Pi Pico can be used for a variety of projects – from a basic speaker system to complex robotics.

For those who have been exploring this new platform, a few things have been learned. First, the Pico-8 interpreter is the go-to language for coding the Raspberry Pi Pico. This language was designed to make coding easier and maximize the capabilities of the Pi. Second, the Pico also has a variety of useful peripherals which can be connected and used to control certain parts of a project. Finally, the Raspberry Pi Pico is a truly versatile board with applications ranging from automation to robotics.

In conclusion, Raspberry Pi Pico is a platform with so much potential. With its small size, low cost, and easy programmability, it is an incredible platform for makers, tinkerers, and developers. With a few lessons learned about the languages and peripherals, the possibilities are endless for anyone to create the project of their dreams and make an impact in the world.