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Olimex Just Turned the Raspberry Pi Pico Into a Mini-PC

A really, really, mini-PC. With no operating system.

Olimex RP2040-Pico-PC

Bulgarian hardware manufacture Olimex has released a Raspberry Pi Pico compatible baseboard that adds display and sound capabilities to the RP2040 powered microcontroller. Alongside the baseboard, Olimex has released its own boards based on the Raspberry Pi Pico, each adding a few key features.

Olimex makes the Pico Bigger and Better

Much like other Olimex products, the RP2040-Pico-PC takes a number of convenient add ons for development boards and makes it part of the design. The baseboard adds a MicroSD card slot, HDMI video, and 3.5mm audio jack output, along with various expansion and debugging options.

RP-2040-Pico-PC base

The full list of additions are:

  • Supports Raspberry Pi Pico board
  • Storage: MicroSD slot
  • Video: HDMI port with DVI signal (video only)
  • Audio: 3.5mm audio jack
  • Expansion: UEXT connector with UART, SPI, I2C, 3.3V, and GND, Grove compatible 4-pin JST2.0 header with I2C + power
  • Debugging: Debug over Serial adapter
  • Extra: Reset button
  • Power Supply: 5V via Micro USB, 2-pin Li-Po battery header

Another nice addition is a 2-pin Li-Po battery connector for operating purely from battery power or as a backup power source. While the baseboard is compatible with the Raspberry Pi Pico, Olimex ended up making its own spin on the board.

Can’t Buy a Pico? Make Your Own!

Like most manufacturers, The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been hit by the global semiconductor shortage. Unable to get official Pi Picos to ship with the new baseboards, Olimex made use of a spool of RP2040 chips – the same found in the Pico – to create their own open hardware development board.

Olimex RP2040-Py

The new board, named the RP2040-Py has all the features of the Pi Pico, comes in three variations, and adds a few new quality-of-life features:

  • An added USB micro connector on the opposite side for power
  • A uUEXT connector on the bottom of the board
  • Reset button
  • Optional JTAG USB debugger
  • DC-DC power supply with 3.3V up to 2A

The three boards are the Basic, Basic+, and Debug, which offer some or all of the features listed above depending on the model.

The RP2040-Pico-PC baseboard costs €12 direct from Olimex, with the three development boards starting at €5.

For more details and purchase options, head to the Olimex blog post about the release.

The Pi Pico Gets Even More Support

As soon as the Raspberry Pi Pico was announced, it was clear that it’d be a popular board. We weren’t disappointed when we got our hands on a Pico to review either, and it wasn’t long before people were using them to create retro gaming machines or even emulate the entire BBC Micro computer system.

These projects are largely made possible due to the Pi’s ability to interface with VGA. It’s even roughly outlined in the RP2040 datasheet how something like this would be possible so it’s little wonder that so many projects already use it.

Olimex has taken this all one step further, and with a proven history of innovative add-ons to already established microcontroller development boards, this is something to get excited about.

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