Author Archives: smittytone

About smittytone

Tech Author and Writer

How to use FreeRTOS with the Raspberry Pi Pico

While documenting Twilio’s in-development Microvisor IoT platform, I’ve been working with FreeRTOS, the Amazon-owned open source real-time operating system for embedded systems. Does FreeRTOS work with the Raspberry Pi Pico’s RP2040 chip? I wondered. It turns out that it can, and this is how you set up a very basic FreeRTOS project which also serves as a demo.

The RP2040-based project uses a Pico board and an extra LED
Running the RP2040 FreeRTOS demo app
Continue reading

Pico USB serial communications with CircuitPython

My Raspberry Pi Pico-based Motorola 6809 emulator uses the RP2040’s built-in serial-over-USB functionality to receive machine code sent from a host computer. The 6809 and its support code is written in C, but can you make use of the same process under Python? Yes, you can, and here’s an easy way to do it.

Computer to display via RP2040 serial comms
Continue reading

Build a Raspberry Pi Pico WiFi IoT Device

Last Summer, I explored using the Raspberry Pi Pico as the basis of a cellular IoT device. That done, I wanted to try out WiFi connectivity. To do so, I ordered a Pimoroni PicoWireless.

Weather updates, Pico style
Continue reading

Recreating the Motorola 6809 in a Raspberry Pi Pico

This is a little project I’ve been working off and on now for some time. It’s one of those efforts where you do a heap of work and then leave it alone for months on end while you go off and do something else entirely. Eventually you come back and do a little more, and then something else distracts you. But you know you’ll complete it in the end, and the journey is as much fun as reaching the destination.

6809 on RP2040
Continue reading

Raspberry Pi Pico development on the iPad Pro: almost, but not quite there

I recently upgraded my ageing iPad to a new iPad Pro 11. This has a USB C port, and I immediately wondered if I could use this to connect a USB C equipped Raspberry Pi RP2040-based device like the Adafruit Feather RP2040, and do development on the iPad rather than a Mac. The answer is a cautious ‘yes’, provided you can work to a very specific limitation: your RP2040-side application environment has to be CircuitPython.

CircuitPython code written on iPad, run on RP2040
Continue reading

Program games on the Pimoroni PicoSystem

A wee while back I ordered a Pimoroni PicoSystem to try out. It’s a small handheld games console based on the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller, and it sports both classic joypad controls and a 240 x 240 16-bit colour display. I gave my first impressions in an earlier post. Here’s what I think after spending some time porting my Raspberry Pi Pico version of the 1980s 3D shooter Phantom Slayer to the unit.

Phantoms to be slayed on the PicoSystem
Continue reading

The microprocessor turns 50: this is how it was conceived

Almost all of the technology we use today is based on the microprocessor. There can be few electrical devices, really only the most basic, whose capabilities are not now defined by software running on a microprocessor chip within. Those chips’ designs are different, and some incorporate much more ancillary functionality than others, but their fundamental architecture is the same: a set of logic and arithmetical units operated in a predetermined sequence by a set of program instructions. The result: a general purpose machine that can be changed to do almost anything — you just keep feeding it different programs. Car engine management; central heating control; TV interface; games console; washing machine cycle… you name it, they use the same chips, just run different code.

Continue reading

How to send data to a Raspberry Pi Pico via USB

Do you need to transfer data to and from a Raspberry Pi Pico, or similar RP2040-based board, connected to your computer by USB? Here’s a neat way to achieve it without any tedious mucking about with the USB stack. Apart from a couple of questions on the Raspberry Pi Forum, there’s not much in the way of documentation, so here’s a write-up.

Continue reading

First look: Pimoroni’s PicoSystem hackable handheld games console

I’ve had my eye on the PicoSystem, the Raspberry Pi RP2040-based games console platform, for some time. It surfaced back in the Spring and was long marked “coming soon”. But now it’s here, mine showed up yesterday while I was at work, and this morning I’ve been messing about with it.

PSP = PicoSystem by Pimoroni
Continue reading

Clive Sinclair (1941-2021) Part three — resurgam

In part one we saw how the young Clive Sinclair created Sinclair Radionics — twice — and built it into a successful business that launched hi-fi products in the 1960s and the first ever pocket calculator in 1972. In part two, we investigated the genesis of the Radionics microcomputer. Read on to learn what occurred when Radionics finally went under, and how the ZX80 came about…

Clive Sinclair in 1981
Continue reading