Raspberry Pi announces the Pico W, a $6 microcontroller equipped with Wi-Fi

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Raspberry Pi has introduced a successor to last year’s Pico, a $4 microcontroller based on the RP2040 chip that the company designed itself. The new model is called the Pico W. It’s basically the same hardware but, as the name suggests, it adds an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, making it useful for assembling IoT projects and the like. It’s also more expensive than the standard Pico, which comes in at $6.

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A 50 percent increase in price isn’t insignificant (especially if you’re planning on buying a bunch of them), but it’s understandable why the W version costs so much more than the original. Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton told: Media Today Chronicles Nilay Patel that adding radios to products is very expensive. “The radio compliance alone for a modern Raspberry Pi product is the best part of half a million dollars,” he said. The $4 Pico isn’t going away either. If cost is a big factor and you can do without network connectivity, you can still get the cheaper model.

The company says it has added wireless to the Pico using an Infineon CYW43439 chip. Oddly enough, that chip also supports Bluetooth, but Raspberry Pi says it’s not currently enabled. (Though it points out it’s at least considering enabling it in the future.)

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While accessories are available to connect your standard Pico to a network, they were considerably more expensive and bulky than having Wi-Fi built into the microcontroller itself – plus they consumed valuable pins that could have been attached to other nice accessories. The Pico W just comes built-in, and you can even use it as a drop-in replacement for a project based on a standard Pico if you like.

The Pico W’s 2.4GHz 802.11n connectivity seems very old-fashioned in the days of Wi-Fi 6E, but it’s worth noting that the Pico W wasn’t built to be a desktop computer that can surf the web – it’s built to electronics or hardware devices. Now, however, it can do that while sending information back and forth over a network. For example, the regular Pico allows you to control a series of LEDs with a switch or button. You can still build that with a Pico W, but you also have the option to control the lights from your laptop.

Raspberry pi announces the pico w a 6 microcontroller equipped

The Pico H comes with built-in pin connectors.
Image: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi also announced two other Pico products: the Pico H and Pico WH. They’re the same as the Pico and Pico W respectively, but they cost a dollar more and come with pre-attached pin headers and a debug connector, while the base versions just have regular pad-style pins. Basically you’re paying to make it easier to fix things, which will be worth it for some people, but not others. (Personally, I could buy the regular version to give myself an excuse to solder more.) The H is available today, while the WH will be available in August.

In the press release, Raspberry Pi says that people looking to experiment with hardware have flocked to the Pico because the shortage of semiconductors makes it difficult to find chips. While the company promises it has plans to make “tens of millions more” Picos, it’s been hit: Anyone who’s recently tried to buy their more complex computers, like the Raspberry Pi 4, knows it can be difficult to stock it. to find . Currently, however, the Pico, Pico W, and Pico H are all available on various sites such as The Pi Hut and Pimoroni. Adafruit and Cytron have pages for the Pico W and say they will be available to order soon.

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