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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Five ways to connect Raspberry Pi and Pico

The Raspberry Pi and Pico are each very capable, but sometimes you'll want to connect them together.

For example, if you're building a robot you may want to use the Pi for computer vision, while relying on the Pico for predictable response times. 

How can you get the Pi and the Pico to talk to each other?

There are several possibilities, each with their own characteristics.

  1. You can connect them with a USB lead and use Thonny to talk to the Pico. That's very easy; it just uses the MicroPython REPL to control the Pico, bit it's very limited. If you've used the REPL to turn the Pico's on-board LED on and off, you've use this option already.
  2. You can connect the Pi to the Pico via USB and use a library called PySerial to send and receive data using a Python program that you write. That's a bit harder but much more flexible.
  3. You can connect the Pi and the Pico using their TTL serial interfaces - possible in theory, though I can't see much reason to do things that way.
  4. You can connect them using a programs that use a protocol called SPI. That's likely to be useful if the Pi needs to talk to a couple of Picos.
  5. You can connect them using a protocol called I2C. That would allow the Pi to talk to lots of Picos, but it's probably the trickiest option, for reasons I'll explain.
In the next post I'll focus on option two. I'll cover SPI and I2C in later posts.




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