The Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi microcontroller board represents the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s first step into the world of WiFi-connected microcontroller development boards.
The Pico WiFi keeps the same high-performance RP2040 dual Arm Cortex M0+ processor running up to 133 MHz as the original Pico.
It also adds an onboard Cypress CYW43439 WiFi chip for wireless 802.11n connectivity at speeds up to 72 Mbps.
For just $6, the Pico WiFi enables many wireless projects. Use it to build smart home devices, wireless sensors, robots, and more. The Pico WiFi makes it simple to add wireless connectivity. It brings affordability to IoT and electronics projects that need WiFi or Bluetooth.
What is Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi?
The Pico WiFi builds upon the existing Pico model by integrating wireless connectivity into the board. The Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi provides similar performance and capabilities as the original Pico for running MicroPython code.
The key difference is the inclusion of an on-board ESP32 wireless module. This Espressif ESP32 chip provides the Pico WiFi with both 2.4 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity. It supports 802.11 b/g/n wireless networking with speeds up to 150 Mbps and Bluetooth 5.0.
Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi
The Pico WiFi maintains the same slim form factor as the original at just 51mm x 21mm x 3.5mm and weighing only 2g. It can be powered via USB Type-C and has 26 multifunction GPIO pins to connect motors, displays, sensors, and other electronics.
There is a micro USB port solely for programming the board. Along with the ESP32 wireless features, it retains all of Pico’s original interfaces like SPI, I2C, UART, PWM, and more.
For interfacing with other hardware, the Pico WiFi sports castellated pads direct soldering of connections. Combined with the low $6 USD price tag, it offers an extremely compelling option for wireless microcontroller projects.
The onboard WiFi and Bluetooth open up an array of new possibilities for wireless control, IoT, automation, and monitoring applications. Pico WiFi is well suited for wireless sensor nodes, home automation hubs, robotic controls, and other connected device use cases.
It provides a readily available WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled microcontroller for rapid prototyping of designs before developing a custom PCB.
How to Set Up Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi?
Setting up the Raspberry Pi Pico W involves getting it connected, updating firmware, installing MicroPython, and getting WiFi configured.
Before you start, ensure you have the following items:
- Raspberry Pi
- A WiFi module (such as the ESP8266 or ESP32)
- Breadboard and jumper wires
- Micro USB cable for power and programming
- A computer with appropriate software for coding (like Thonny or VSCode)
Setting Up Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi
Now do the following steps
- Use a USB cable to connect your Raspberry Pi to your computer. This provides power and allows programming.
- Wire up an ESP8266, ESP32, or other WiFi module to the Pico. Connect VCC, GND, TX, and RX pins between the modules.
- Install libraries like wifi.py to communicate with the WiFi module from Pico.
- Write a MicroPython program to initialize serial communication and connect to your WiFi using the SSID and password.
- Transfer this program to the Pico using Thonny or other IDE.
- Run the program. The Pico will attempt connecting to WiFi through the module.
- Check for errors in case the connection fails. Print debug statements in the code to troubleshoot.
- Once WiFi is working, you can build on it – send sensor data, contact web APIs, host a web server, etc.
- Expanding the functionality is easy once the initial WiFi connection is established.
Connect Your Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi to WLAN
The Raspberry Pi Pico W makes it easy to connect your projects to WiFi networks thanks to its onboard ESP32 wireless module. With just a few lines of MicroPython code, you can get the Pico W connected to your home, office, or any other WLAN.
First, you’ll need to gather some basic information about the WiFi network you wish to join. Have the SSID – the network name that identifies the WLAN – handy.
You’ll also need the password if authentication is enabled on the network. With the SSID and password ready, follow these steps:
- Power your Raspberry Pi Pico Wifi and allow access to the REPL prompt over a USB serial.
- Write a Python script to manage the WiFi connection
# Replace with your network credentials
ssid = ‘WIFI_SSID’
password = ‘WIFI_PASSWORD’
# Initialize the WiFi interface in station mode
wlan = network.WLAN(network.STA_IF)
# Connect to the network
# Wait for the connection to establish
while not wlan.isconnected():
# Connection established
print(“Connected to WiFi”)
print(“Network config:”, wlan.ifconfig())
- Upload and run the script on the Raspberry Pi Pico using the IDE. Now, monitor the output for confirmation of connection.
Connecting Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi to WLAN
What Are the Applications of Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi?
The Pico WiFi can be used for many wireless projects. These range from basic home automation to advanced industrial systems.
Some common uses for the Pico WiFi are:
The compact size and wireless connectivity make the Pico W perfect for smart home builds. Directly control lights, appliances, sensors, and more from anywhere using your WiFi network.
Build custom environmental monitoring systems with temperature, humidity, motion sensors, etc. Integrate with IFTTT and smart speakers for voice control. With MicroPython, you can rapidly prototype home automation ideas.
Industrial IoT & Sensing
For wireless sensing and monitoring in factories, warehouses, and other commercial setups, the inexpensive Pico W is very compelling. Build sensor nodes that collect vibration, temperature, and pressure data and transmit it wirelessly to central dashboards.
Monitor machinery health and get alerts for predictive maintenance. Scan RFID tags on inventory wirelessly. Offering industrial-grade capabilities at low cost.
Education & Learning
Simplified MicroPython programming and wireless access is ideal for STEM education. Students can learn coding, electronics, and IoT principles by building Pico W projects.
Connect experiments and sensors wirelessly for data logging and analysis. Build wireless robots and gadgets using the Pico W as an easy-to-use brain. Significant potential for project-based learning.
For engineers, designers, makers, and tinkerers, the Pico W is a great rapid prototyping board. Test out wireless project concepts quickly with MicroPython scripts.
Iteratively develop IoT devices and applications with the flexibility of WiFi/BLE. Prototype wireless control of motors, servos, sensors, etc.
Develop custom gadgets and tools integrating the Pico W for quick yet powerful projects.
Home Security Systems
Build custom wireless security systems using Pico W boards linked to motion sensors, cameras, alarm triggers, etc. Get alerts to your phone when intruders are detected.
Write MicroPython scripts to intelligently monitor sensors and activate warnings and deterrents. Low-cost yet effective home security automation.
The dual-core RP2040 chip gives the Pico W enough horsepower to run machine-learning models for AI applications. Do voice recognition using audio sensors and computer vision on camera feeds to spot people, things, or behaviors.
All are processed locally with WiFi to send alerts or data to the cloud. Locally focused AI using MicroPython.
Robotics and Drones
The Pico W is an excellent controller for building robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles. Its small size allows integration into mobile projects, while WiFi enables wireless control and telemetry.
Program motor drives, servos, and sensors to create robots that can be controlled from a smartphone. Build WiFi-enabled drones for aerial photography and other uses.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
For augmented reality projects, the Pico W can serve as an intelligent hub connecting sensors to VR headsets and glasses via WiFi. For VR applications, use it to wirelessly integrate real-world inputs like motion, and location into virtual environments.
The powerful RP2040 processor can render basic graphics combined with WiFi connectivity.
Configure multiple Raspberry Pi Pico W boards as nodes in a wireless mesh network. This allows them to pass data through each other to extend range.
Useful for large-scale sensor networks, tracking assets, and IoT deployments. Intelligent routing algorithms can be developed using MicroPython on the dual-core architecture.
The tiny form factor of the Pico W makes it perfect for wearable electronics projects where size is constrained but wireless connectivity is desired. Connect to phones or WiFi networks from small devices integrated into clothing, accessories, badges, etc.
Enable IoT and data-driven farming using Pico W nodes with soil moisture, light, and temperature sensors across fields. It helps to build automated irrigation systems.
Monitor crop, greenhouse, and livestock conditions remotely. A low-cost way to wirelessly instrument and collect analytics for precision agriculture.
Retail & Logistics
For retail stores, Pico W can power IoT sensors on shelves to monitor inventory levels. In warehouses, use it to track locations of cartons, and canisters using RFID or barcode scanners.
In delivery trucks, log temperature and vibrations during transport wirelessly. Many asset tracking use cases.
Arduino Vs. Raspberry Pi Pico
Arduino and Raspberry Pi Pico are both popular microcontroller boards. But there are some key differences between the two:
The Raspberry Pi Pico far outpaces Arduino boards when it comes to processing capabilities. The dual-core RP2040 microcontroller in Pico runs at 133 MHz, compared to just 16 MHz for classic Arduino boards like the Uno.
This gives Pico the ability to handle more complex tasks.
Pico has 264 KB of RAM and 2MB of onboard flash storage. Low-end Arduino boards have around 2KB RAM and 32KB flash memory.
This allows Pico to store and run significantly larger programs. Pico also supports external SPI flash memory chips as added storage.
Arduino vs Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi
GPIO and Peripherals
The Raspberry Pi Pico has 26 multifunction GPIO pins. Many Arduino boards have 14 pins. Pico can interface with cameras, displays, sensors, and more. Arduino has more add-on shields and modules, but Pico is rapidly expanding.
Pico boards follow the familiar Raspberry Pi small board footprint, making them quite compact. Arduino boards come in various shapes and sizes. Recent Arduino Nano models are also fairly small and low profile.
Arduino has a more mature ecosystem with decades of compatible shields, modules, and accessories. Raspberry Pi Pico is newer but gaining traction. Its ecosystem is expanding rapidly.
Pico has a very low cost of just $4 USD while basic Arduino boards start around $20-$30. However, Pico requires some accessories so the total system cost can be similar.
So Pico is the superior choice for building complex IoT systems and Python-programmed electronics. But Arduino remains ideal for simple, low-cost electronics projects involving motors, sensors, and basic interfacing.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does Raspberry Pi Pico Have WiFi?
The original Raspberry Pi Pico does not have built-in WiFi. Newer versions of Raspberry Pi Pico have the wifi capabilities.
2. What Accessories and Add-on Boards Are Available for Pico W?
For the Pico W, various accessories and add-on boards are available, including environmental sensor boards, motor driver boards, display modules, and expansion boards for additional connectivity and functionality.
3. Is the Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi Compatible With Arduino Shields?
No, the Pico WiFi does not support Arduino shields.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has once again delivered an impressive microcontroller development board with the Pico WiFi. It retains all the benefits of the original Pico – the powerful RP2040 chip, minimal size, ample GPIO, and low cost – while adding dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities.
As the Pico family and ecosystem expand, we can expect more complex and innovative applications leveraging this tiny but mighty microcontroller board.
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