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Raspberry Pi Pico goes wireless

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By Rich Pell

The new Raspberry Pi Pico W ($6) brings 802.11n wireless networking to the Pico platform, while retaining complete pin compatibility with its older sibling. Pico H ($5) and Pico WH ($7) add pre-populated headers and a new three-pin debug connector, to Pico and Pico W, respectively.

The Pico W uses Infineon’s CYW43439 wireless chip. The radio circuitry is encapsulated in a metal shield can, reducing compliance costs for users who want to integrate it into their own products. While the CYW43439 supports both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low-Energy, Bluetooth has not been enabled on the Pico W at launch, but may be in the future.

For C developers, a release of the Pico SDK includes wireless networking support. The network stack is built around lwIP, and uses 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 users, and anyone else who builds their product around RP2040 and CYW43439, benefit from a free commercial-use license.

MicroPython users can download an updated UF2 image with networking support for Pico W. The UF2 firmware being made available for the Pico W is a separate build to the existing MicroPython firmware for the original Pico board. 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.

Pico H and Pico W are available now; Pico WH will follow in August.

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