Welcome to our guide on Raspberry Pi Pico W firmware installation and LED blink example! Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, In this article, we’re going to focus on two fundamental aspects of working with the Pico W: installing MicroPython firmware and creating a basic onboard LED blink program. MicroPython, a lean and efficient implementation of Python 3, is tailored for microcontrollers and provides an ideal platform for programming the Pico W. We’ll guide you through every step of the firmware installation process, ensuring you have a solid foundation to start your journey with this remarkable device.
Following the firmware setup, we’ll dive into a hands-on example. We’ll teach you how to write a simple yet essential program to blink the onboard LED – a quintessential “Hello, World!” project in the realm of electronics. This will not only demonstrate the basic principles of programming and hardware interaction but also give you a taste of the potential that lies within this tiny board.
Before we begin, make sure you have all the necessary materials:
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What is Raspberry Pi Pico W?
The Raspberry Pi Pico W is a significant leap forward in the world of microcontroller boards, introduced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Building upon the foundation laid by its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi Pico, the Pico W introduces wireless connectivity, bringing new dimensions to your projects.
The standout feature of the Raspberry Pi Pico W is its integrated WiFi, powered by the Infineon CYW43439 wireless chip. It supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to the internet and communicate with other devices wirelessly. This wireless capability opens up a world of possibilities for IoT projects and remote control applications.
Processor and Memory
The Raspberry Pi Pico W is powered by the RP2040 microcontroller chip, which is designed by Raspberry Pi. It features a dual-core ARM Cortex-M0+ processor running at 133 MHz, providing ample processing power for various applications. The Pico W also comes with 264KB of SRAM and 2MB of onboard flash memory, allowing you to store and run your programs efficiently.
The board is also equipped with an onboard LED, a USB 1.1 port for power and data, and a reset button.
The Pico W offers 26 GPIO (General-Purpose Input/Output) pins, which can be used to connect and control a wide variety of sensors, actuators, and other electronic components. These pins can be configured as digital inputs or outputs, PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) outputs, or as analog inputs using the onboard ADC (Analog to Digital Converter). It supports a range of interfaces such as SPI, I2C, and UART, making it versatile for various peripherals and sensors.
The Raspberry Pi Pico W can be powered via a micro USB port, making it convenient to connect to a computer or a USB power source. It also supports battery power, allowing you to make portable projects without the need for a constant power supply.
The Pico W’s WiFi capability transforms it into a potent tool for IoT projects, allowing devices to communicate over the internet or a local network.
It’s ideal for applications like remote sensors, weather stations, home automation systems, and WiFi-controlled robots.
Educational institutions can leverage the Pico W for teaching programming and electronics, as its Python compatibility makes it accessible to beginners.
Advanced users can explore deeper into electronics, creating complex projects that involve real-time data transfer and analysis.
Installing MicroPython Firmware on Raspberry Pi Pico W
Installing MicroPython on your Raspberry Pi Pico W is a straightforward process, but it’s crucial to follow the steps carefully. MicroPython is a lean and efficient implementation of Python 3, specifically designed for microcontrollers. By installing it, you’re equipping your Pico W to run Python scripts, opening up a world of possibilities for programming and project development.
Step 1: Downloading the MicroPython Firmware
Visit the official Raspberry Pi website to find the latest version of MicroPython firmware for the Pico W.
The file that ends in .uf2 – this is the format the Pico W recognizes for firmware.
Download the .uf2 file to a known location on your computer.
Step 2: Entering the Bootloader Mode
Before connecting the Pico W to your computer, hold down the BOOTSEL button on the board.
While still holding the BOOTSEL button, connect the Pico W to your computer using the Micro USB cable. This action puts the Pico W into bootloader mode, making it appear as a USB drive on your computer.
Release the BOOTSEL button once the Pico W is connected.
Step 3: Flashing the Firmware
Open the USB drive that represents the Pico W on your computer.
Drag and drop the downloaded .uf2 file onto the USB drive.
The Pico W will automatically install the firmware and then reboot. After this process, the Pico W will disconnect from the computer and then reconnect as a MicroPython device.
Write your first LED Blink program
Once you have everything set up, it’s time to write your first program. If you’re new to programming, don’t worry – Raspberry Pi Pico W is beginner-friendly. You can start with MicroPython, a beginner-friendly programming language that’s easy to learn.
MicroPython allows you to write code in a simplified version of Python, making it accessible to beginners. You can use the Thonny IDE, which comes pre-installed with the Raspberry Pi Pico software, or any other software a per your choice to write and run your programs.
from machine import Pin
# Define the onboard LED pin
led = Pin("LED", Pin.OUT)
led.value(1) # Turn LED on
utime.sleep(1) # Wait for 1 second
led.value(0) # Turn LED off
utime.sleep(1) # Wait for 1 second
Save file onto Raspberry Pi Pico W:
Once you have finished writing your code in Thonny, the next step is to save it onto your Raspberry Pi Pico W. First, ensure that you have selected the Raspberry Pi Pico interpreter in Thonny. To do this, click on ‘Run‘, then select ‘Configure Interpreter‘.
In the window that opens, choose ‘MicroPython (Raspberry Pi Pico)‘ from the dropdown menu.
And then click ‘OK’.
You will notice that the selected interpreter is now displayed in the command prompt area of Thonny.
To save your file to the Raspberry Pi Pico, click on the ‘File’ menu at the top of the Thonny interface, and then select ‘Save’.
A dialog box will appear; here, select the Raspberry Pi Pico as the save location.
Name your file appropriately and add the ‘.py’ extension. In my case, I named the file ‘blink.py’. Once you have named your file, click ‘OK’ to save it.
After saving the file, you can run your code by clicking the green play icon or simply pressing F5.
Upon executing the program, you will observe the output of your code.
The Raspberry Pi Pico W is a game-changer in the world of microcontrollers. With its built-in wireless connectivity, powerful features, and endless possibilities, it’s the perfect choice for anyone looking to take their projects to the next level.