Bitbanged DVI On A Raspberry Pi RP2040 Microcontroller

When we first saw the Raspberry Pi Pico and its RP2040 microcontroller last month it was obvious that to be more than just yet another ARM chip it needed something special, and that appeared to be present in the form of its onboard PIO peripherals. We were eagerly awaiting how the community might use them to push the RP2040 capabilities beyond their advertised limits. Now [Luke Wren] provides us with an example, as he pushes an RP2040 to produce a DVI signal suitable to drive an HDMI monitor.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the chip can be overclocked, however it’s impressive to find that it can reach the 252 MHz necessary to generate the DVI timing. With appropriate terminations it proved possible for the GPIO lines to mimic the differential signalling required by the spec. A PCB with the RP2040 and an HDMI socket was created, also providing a couple of PMOD connectors for expansion. All code and software can be found in a GitHub repository.

The result is a usable DVI output which though it is a relatively low resolution 640×480 pixels at 60 Hz is still a major advance over the usual composite video provided by microcontroller projects. With composite support on monitors becoming a legacy item it’s a welcome sight to see an accessible path to an HDMI or DVI output without using an FPGA.

Thanks [BaldPower] for the tip.

A Look At The Interesting RP2040 Peripheral, Those PIOs

The Raspberry Pi Pico is the latest product in the Raspberry Pi range, and it marks a departure from their previous small Linux-capable boards. The little microcontroller board will surely do well in the Pi Foundation’s core markets, but its RP2040 chip must have something special as a commercial component to avoid being simply another take on an ARM microcontroller that happens to be a bit more expensive and from an unproven manufacturer in the world of chips. Perhaps that special something comes in its on-board Programable IO perhipherals, or PIOs. [CNX Software] have taken an in-depth look at them, which makes for interesting reading.

Continue reading “A Look At The Interesting RP2040 Peripheral, Those PIOs”

Raspberry Pi Enters Microcontroller Game With $4 Pico

Raspberry Pi was synonymous with single-board Linux computers. No longer. The $4 Raspberry Pi Pico board is their attempt to break into the crowded microcontroller module market.

The microcontroller in question, the RP2040, is also Raspberry Pi’s first foray into custom silicon, and it’s got a dual-core Cortex M0+ with luxurious amounts of SRAM and some very interesting custom I/O peripheral hardware that will likely mean that you never have to bit-bang again. But a bare microcontroller is no fun without a dev board, and the Raspberry Pi Pico adds 2 MB of flash, USB connectivity, and nice power management.

As with the Raspberry Pi Linux machines, the emphasis is on getting you up and running quickly, and there is copious documentation: from “Getting Started” type guides for both the C/C++ and MicroPython SDKs with code examples, to serious datasheets for the Pico and the RP2040 itself, to hardware design notes and KiCAD breakout boards, and even the contents of the on-board Boot ROM. The Pico seems designed to make a friendly introduction to microcontrollers using MicroPython, but there’s enough guidance available for you to go as deep down the rabbit hole as you’d like.

Our quick take: the RP2040 is a very well thought-out microcontroller, with myriad nice design touches throughout, enough power to get most jobs done, and an innovative and very hacker-friendly software-defined hardware I/O peripheral. It’s backed by good documentation and many working examples, and at the end of the day it runs a pair of familiar ARM MO+ CPU cores. If this hits the shelves at the proposed $4 price, we can see it becoming the go-to board for many projects that don’t require wireless connectivity.

But you want more detail, right? Read on.

Continue reading “Raspberry Pi Enters Microcontroller Game With $4 Pico”