Arducam Now Working With The RPi Pico

The Raspberry Pi Pico came out of absolutely nowhere, and has taken the maker world by storm. At the low, low cost of $4, packing some seriously grunty original silicon, and even available free on the cover of magazines, it’s already got a legion of fans. As with any new popular platform, there’s a scramble to get everything under the sun running on the hardware. Already, ArduCAM is up and running on the Raspberry Pi Pico!

Based on the OV2640 image sensor, the ArduCAM is useful for microcontroller applications thanks to its onboard JPEG encoder. This limits the amount of RAM needed onboard the microcontroller to deal with the images fed from the camera. With the Pico now on the market, the team behind ArduCAM set about writing a library to get everything playing nicely with the SPI camera. It’s available on Github, complete with an example program so you can check everything is functional right out of the box. The easiest way to get up and running is from a Raspberry Pi environment, but the Pico acts as a USB Mass Storage device so can be programmed from virtually anywhere.

We’ll likely see the whole cavalcade of microcontroller bits and pieces ported to the Pico in the coming months, along with plenty of interesting uses of the special IO features. Video after the break.

29 thoughts on “Arducam Now Working With The RPi Pico

    1. It seems to be highly location-dependent. At least one of the major UK retailers was out of stock of Picos for a couple of days, but otherwise has had constant availability for the standard ~$4 + tax price. I get the impression that a lot of people who can’t get hold of one are based in North America.

    2. Just a little. I’ve bought one from pimoroni (they had limit of 1 per person), but bought another 5 from local reseller (still waiting for that one from pimoroni). So, no problems like with pi zero.

    3. Here in Japan (where they’re made), half of the official sellers don’t have any picos, and the other half all sell for over $4. It’s not quite Pi Zero level of neglect, the Ras Pi Foundation clearly doesn’t care about makers in Japan. I think I’m going to stop buying their products all together and go for anything made by their competitors instead. Every release has left Japan to deal with imports at scalper prices. I’m done.

  1. ” taken the maker world by storm”.

    I have to admit to being slightly underwhelmed by this new board. I can get an ESP32 for about £7 off Amazon, with the legs already soldered on. And I get WiFi and Bluetooth included. What does the pico do that the ESP32 can’t? If I don’t want WiFi/Bluetooth I can go much, much cheaper (maybe not at the same speed?). I realise that the RPi foundation will probably have tons of really good educational material and provide a lot of support etc, maybe that’s the main selling point?

    I think if they included WiFi/Bluetooth for £10, or even more, it would have made more of an impact.

    1. There seem to be two areas where the Pico differentiates itself from some other microcontrollers :

      1. Very comprehensive and high-quality documentation and overall support.
      2. The State Machine-based PIOs (which allow for things like VGA, DVI, SPI etc. output with significantly reduced overheads on the M0+ cores)

      Companies like Pimoroni are selling the Pico with pre-soldered headers for £6, and others are planning to offer WiFi/BT modules on board.

      In interviews I’ve read/watched with the Pi Foundation they decided that for their first silicon they would go with something they could deliver at a given price point and within a given timescale.

      1. One should ask themselves, how often you you need advanced PIO controller (afaik, none of these projects is making any use of it) vs how many times do you need to do calculations with floating point numbers: unlike ESP32, Pico lacks HW floating-point unit.

        Not to mention that ESP runs 3 times faster, has better connectivity, etc…

        Also claiming lack of documentation for ESP32 is insincere.

      2. Scrap the first point. All mainstream microcontrollers have first class support for an engineering audience. For education and hobby applications, arduino adafruit sparkfun esp micropython and even rpis themselves have largely filled the void.

        I would argue that the rpi zero is still a more interesting platform for a hobbiest user than this micro will ever be. Professional users require targeted peripherals and features, and this micro has no stand out features.

        If they had made a single core rpi4 with integrated ram in this form factor it would be a game changer, but this is just a mediocre attempt to cash in on the rpi name to monopolise the maker market.

        1. No, *don’t* scratch that first one. As someone who has dealt with microcontroller datasheets for a couple of decades, the Pico documentation is in a class of it’s own. Everything is a delight to read, and somehow simultaneously explains everything in complete detail while being accessible to beginners and not at all patronising to those with extensive experience like myself. It must have taken a massive amount of work to polish the documentation to this level and it really shows.

    2. I think you nailed it.
      The main selling point is the very good documentation, including info on setting up the build environment. Also the SDK source is available.
      As far as functionalities are concerned, the PIO state machines are really a neat thing.

  2. “The Raspberry Pi Pico came out of absolutely nowhere, and has taken the maker world by storm. At the low, low cost of $4, packing some seriously grunty original silicon, and even available free on the cover of magazines, it’s already got a legion of fans. As with any new popular platform, there’s a scramble to get everything under the sun running on the hardware.”

    You lost me at the 5th metaphor.

  3. I plan on using the Pico as just a nice little real-time extension to my RPIs. No need for Wifi/Bluetooth (already on RPI). I was able to snag three from Adafruit. For $5 (with headers), each gives me 3 analogs and of course more GPIO but this time with interrupts, so will more accurate timing of events to do more things. PIO probably will come in handy at some point to. Plus, the best part is, drum roll please, I can write a standard ‘C’ application to run on it. No need for IDEs. The Linux command line will do fine, using your favorite GUI text editor to write the apps. Plenty of RAM and swimming in Flash, two cores, should be able to do a lot with this little board if needed. I can hook up just a short USB cable to an RPI or desktop for development. Currently I am using my Ubuntu workstation for development and that is working out great. USB provides Power+Comm+programming. Communicate via the USB (serial over USB). Programming is as easy as write program, run make, copy/paste, done. So far I’ve run into no downsides, only upsides. I am happy with this little board. Documentation has been great. Just scratching the surface.

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