HackSpace magazine

Pico Addons

By Ben Everard. Posted

You can add hardware to your Pico by building your own circuits – and in many cases, this is relatively straightforward thanks to protocols such as SPI and I2C. However, sometimes it’s easier and quicker to start with a premade add-on that gives more capabilities to your Pico so that you can spend your time working on other parts of the project. We expect there to be lots of add-ons for Pico created in the coming months, but here are some that you can get right now from Pimoroni.

Pico Audio adds an I2S decoder and headphone and line-level outputs to Pico. Pico has a capable audio system that can output I2S via PIO. You can create buffers of data that are streamed to your attached device. At the time of writing, this is in the pico-extras repository (hsmag.cc/pico-extras) because, while it does work, there is ongoing development and the API may change. You can use the audio system to directly output audio using PWM, but you can get better quality using I2S, and the integrated headphone and line-level amps make this easy to use.

Create your own sound effects or even build a DIY musical instrument

If you prefer visual output rather than audio, Pico Display gives a TFT screen, four buttons, and an RGB LED, all within the Pico footprint. The result is a compact, encapsulated display, perfect for adding a little visual output to your project.

Easily add some graphical output to your project

For a bit more sparkle, Pico Scroll adds a 17×7 matrix of white LEDs to the top of the Pico. As the name suggests, this works well for scrolling text as well as displaying data or just generally shimmering. There are four buttons to get data in from the user to control the display, or perhaps play a game of Snake.


Of course, you may want more than one of these, and for that you’ll need an Omnibus (for two add-ons) or a Decker (for four add-ons). You can also use these to access all the pins when another add-on is on top, whether that’s for debugging or expanding your project.

Find out more about the Raspberry Pi Pico in HackSpace magazine issue 39 which you can download for free here.

You can get a free Pico when you subscribe to HackSpace magazine (from just £5) here.


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