Raspberry Pi adds wireless on $6 pico W board

Raspberry Pi adds wireless on $6 pico W board

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By Nick Flaherty

Raspberry Pi has added wireless connectivity to its low cost pico board as well as pre-soldered headers and a debug interface.

The $6 pico W board (above) adds the Infineon (Cypress) CYW43439 wireless system on chip for 802.11n wireless networking with complete pin compatibility with the first $4 pico board.

The software is key for the board, which is based on Raspbeerry Pi’s own RP2040 dual core ARM microcontroller. A release today of the Pico software development kit (SDK) includes wireless networking support with a network stack built around lwIP, an open source independent implementation of the TCP/IP protocol suite. This uses the libcyw43 from Damien George (of MicroPython fame) to communicate with the wireless chip. By default, libcyw43 is licensed for non-commercial use, but Pico W includes a free commercial-use license.

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The wireless SoC also supports Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy, but these are not yet enabled. “We have not enabled Bluetooth on Pico W at launch, but may do so in the future,” said Ebon Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi.

MicroPython users can download an updated UF2 image with networking support for Pico W.

“This UF2 firmware we’re making available for Pico W is a separate build to the existing MicroPython firmware for our original Pico board,” said Upton. “We’ll be upstreaming the changes to the main MicroPython repository soon after launch, but as MicroPython has separate binaries on a per-board rather than per-architecture basis there will always be two distinct UF2 firmware releases going forward. One for Pico, the other for Pico W.”

Two additional versions, Pico H ($5) and Pico WH ($7) add pre-populated headers, and a new 3-pin debug connector, to Pico and Pico W respectively. Pico H and Pico W are available today; Pico WH will follow in August.

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