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Getting started with a Raspberry Pi Pico board

This page will guide you in getting started with the Raspberry Pi Pico board or the uPesy RP2040 DevKit board. You will discover the different programming languages and know the other software used.

This tutorial is relevant for all boards based on the RP2040 microcontroller. The most famous board is the Raspberry Pi Pico. Nevertheless, the uPesy RP2040 DevKit board, an improved version of the Pico (created by uPesy), acts precisely the same.

Communication between a Raspberry Pi Pico and a computer

We communicate with the board from a computer via a USB connection. Therefore, the first step is to verify that the computer recognizes the board. To do this, get a USB-C cable (the one used by new phones) and plug the board into a computer.

Note

Remember to take a cable that transfers data and not just one to recharge batteries. It is good if you can hear the characteristic Windows noise when plugged in.

The Pi Pico can behave in 2 different ways when connected to the computer; it behaves either like:
  • A simple USB key if its flash memory is empty or if you have kept the BOOT button pressed while connecting to the computer: the board exposes its internal flash memory.

    Pi Pico was detected as a USB stick.

    uPesy RP2040 DevKit board recognized as a USB key (RPI-RP2)

  • A simple serial link, if there is already a program present (MicroPython or program compiled via the Arduino IDE). You can send and receive messages through the COM ports of the computer.

    Pi Pico was detected as a serial link.

    uPesy RP2040 DevKit board recognized as a serial link (through the device manager)

    device manager in Windows 10

    Use the Windows search bar to access the device manager easily.

Important

There is already a script on the uPesy RP2040 DevKit board that blinks the built-in blue LED. It must therefore be seen by the computer as a simple serial link.

How to program the Raspberry Pi Pico?

Several languages ​​can be used to program the RP2040 microcontroller. There are 3 ways to program the Pi Pico board:

There are no good or bad languages: you have to choose the one that best suits your technical level and needs. Programming in MicroPython and Arduino will be more relevant for beginners and makers. In contrast, experts and engineers will use C/C++ programming with the native SDK.

I suggest you read What languages to use for your microcontrollers ​​(Arduino VS MicroPython VS native SDK code) to get a better idea.

Quickly program the Raspberry Pi Pico with MicroPython and Thonny IDE.

The goal is to be ready quickly using the languages ​​and tools suggested by the Raspberry Pi foundation: Micro Python on Thonny IDE.

Install MicroPython on your board

MicroPython is a Python interpreter optimized for microcontrollers like the RP2040 or ESP32. Therefore, we can develop Python scripts that will be directly executed on the Pi Pico board. To do this, we install MicroPython on the board, and then we use IDE like Thonny that allows you to code and interact with MicroPython.

If you have just received a uPesy RP2040 DevKit board, the latest version of MicroPython is already installed on it, so you can skip this step . If you have the classic Raspberry Pi Pico, I redirect you to the installation guide of MicroPython on the Raspberry Pi Pico .

Install Thonny IDE on the computer

Thonny is a lightweight IDE, handy for developing Python when you begin. It is also installed by default on Raspberry Pi OS. If you’ve done Python on Raspberry Pi before, you’ve probably used it. It is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS. It integrates MicroPython very well.

To install it, I redirect you to the Thonny IDE installation and configuration guide .

After these steps, you should write your first scripts in MicroPython. To help you, I suggest you take a look at:

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