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Look out - RasPi now doing their own microcontroller - Page 3 — Parallax Forums

Look out - RasPi now doing their own microcontroller

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  • jrullanjrullan Posts: 58
    edited 2021-02-09 00:58

    My two cents from a newbie perspective is that the biggest strength of the Pico is simply the documentation (which I just downloaded and have been skimming for about an hour). I'm sure that when the P2 documentation gets to the level of the P1 manual, that alone will break many entry barriers. I also have to commend this wonderful friendly community that has been crucial for me to get started and feel a bit comfortable with the P2 in just three months. (only scratching like 10% of all there is to learn here) Ahh... and the Quickbytes initiative (thank you Ken)... that has helped me too!

  • @pik33 said:
    I now have a Pico AND a P2... they will land in one box to make a retrocomputer... For a retrocomputer even 64 pins are not enough. Cartridge and PIO ports need pins. A lot of digital pins. Pico has only 26 of them, but it is cheap and can be connected to P2 via fast serial link.

    The only problem is I can't use spin to program a Pico. Its IDE is (for me) overengineered.

    Cartridge needs pretty much a couple of pins in total - fast serial links are no big deal these days, unless you're aiming for some sort of pin-compatibility with older hardware. GPIO is of course all pins, but probably 16 or 24 would cover many use cases.

  • hinvhinv Posts: 1,058

    @pik33 said:
    I now have a Pico AND a P2... they will land in one box to make a retrocomputer... For a retrocomputer even 64 pins are not enough. Cartridge and PIO ports need pins. A lot of digital pins. Pico has only 26 of them, but it is cheap and can be connected to P2 via fast serial link.

    The only problem is I can't use spin to program a Pico. Its IDE is (for me) overengineered.

    Sound's to me that the Pico can be used as a cheap, better Prop plug. I wonder how much power that port can handle so that the Pico and a P2 board can run directly off of the USB.

  • Pico feels like it's a very direct competitor to the ESP32, doing mostly the same dual-core things at similar clockspeeds (I'd have to see where the overclocking limits of the Pico lie). ESP32 is a power hog so there may be room in that space for the Pico.

    P2 seems to be pretty clear in its niche of doing its own thing much like the P1, for multiprocessing heavy applications like navigation systems.

  • There seems to be one benefit for P2:
    Pico shows that Micropython can support more than one core!

    I am still waiting to see about future price policy of Parallax. Will they stay on that level for the very rare niche project, that does "need" P2 or will they make it attractive for very more common applications, that can be done just a little bit more easily with 8 cores?

  • pik33pik33 Posts: 1,031

    The chip is cheap if you consider its possibilities. The worst problem is availability: it is difficult for me to buy these products (in Poland). There is only Mouser Poland which has limited set of Parallax products (eg. no hyperram board) and doesn't accept Polish standard ways of payments. They rejected my card while trying to pay :( - something was incompatible. I ordered a new card and I will try to buy Edge boards again.

    Then boards are (too) expensive. The eval board costs $150: compare this to $4 Pico... The only "cheap enough" is Edge at $45

    I am university employee, teaching students FPGAs, microcontrollers, etc. P2 Eval, even at $150 level, may be a good candidate for a students laboratory, but a source in Poland which accepts payments via a bank account is necessary or else the paperwork is too difficult to do. I want to show the P2 for students; having one board I can of course make a presentation, but not a laboratory. A students laboratory is the best way to make the chip popular.

    Parallax should find a good distributor in every country to sell their products worldwide. In Poland there are 2 big shops: kamami.pl and botland.com.pl. They sells Arduinos, Raspberries and other fruits (but not apples) , chips, robotic stuff, etc. Parallax line of products fits there.

  • @RbtsEvrywhr_Riley said:
    Pico feels like it's a very direct competitor to the ESP32, doing mostly the same dual-core things at similar clockspeeds (I'd have to see where the overclocking limits of the Pico lie). ESP32 is a power hog so there may be room in that space for the Pico.

    P2 seems to be pretty clear in its niche of doing its own thing much like the P1, for multiprocessing heavy applications like navigation systems.

    I rather think that with its connectivity options (esp. wireless) the ESP32 sits in its own space. In fact, I expect soon you will see projects bolting an ESP32 to a Pico much like there is talk now of doing that with P2. The Pico will no doubt be popular with makers and educators, but I'm not sure how much of an impact it will have in real-world, eg, industrial, applications.

  • Quite possibly. We did write some bolt-on ESP32 code for the P2 back in the fall using its default AT command interface. I do hope people find more use cases for it!

  • @RbtsEvrywhr_Riley said:
    Quite possibly. We did write some bolt-on ESP32 code for the P2 back in the fall using its default AT command interface. I do hope people find more use cases for it!

    At this stage, nobody has used the ESP32 code we created with you. We were following community requests to create this object, but it's gone without attracting interest. I'm not sure why, and I'll ask today at the P2 Live Forum.

    Ken Gracey

  • That's sad to hear, and I have to apologize again for it. I haven't heard much about the ESP32 on ANY of my forums in a few months, it almost feels like it fell off the radar. I'm still keeping an eye open for reported issues, but I haven't seen any. To the best of my knowledge, everything designed in works as intended...

  • cgraceycgracey Posts: 13,610

    If people are not talking about the ESP32, are they still using the ESP8266?

  • I had barely heard word of the 8266 when we started adapting some of the Robots Anywhere designs to the ESP32 (our idea is to use it as a cheaper substitute for prop+android fone for very low end applications). Probably just for low end IoT stuff.

    As a side note the ESP32 object we wrote will also mostly support the 8266 as the default command set is very similar.

  • octettaoctetta Posts: 113
    edited 2021-02-16 21:09

    Just saw this article describing the PIO (Programmable IO) blocks that are on the RPi Pico...

    https://www.cnx-software.com/2021/01/27/a-closer-look-at-raspberry-pi-rp2040-programmable-ios-pio/

  • @interpolate said:
    where is prop2 IoT

    Wherever we want it. What do you want to do? I'm pretty sure with smartpins and using an ESP32 or other radio coprocessor you can make a ridiculously powerful IoT device very quickly.

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,695

    I see they mention a rev B1 of the Pico already .. and boards are coming from many places as the bare chips propagate out there.

    https://www.tomshardware.com/news/raspberry-pi-pico-silicon-heading-to-partners

  • roglohrogloh Posts: 3,317
    edited 2021-02-19 03:13

    If these standalone RP2040 chips become cheap enough you could possibly put one onto a P2 board design as an FTDI replacement and have its internal ROM boot supporting USB filesystems be able to write hybrid P2+Pico boot images to the P2 flash if it was wired up to share it. It all depends on whether its own image can co-exist with the P2 boot image somehow in the first 256 bytes read off the shared flash. It would have to hold the P2 in reset from startup (P2 pull down resistor on reset) so the Pico could use the flash first, then later tri-state itself from XIP flash pins (and only exec from RAM) and then it would release/pull up the reset of the P2 high. This could be neat if doable. You could also use its USB for P2 serial later through the serial port on the Pico. In this case 7 pins would be wired into the P2+flash environment. You could possibly also wire additional lines and overlap with SPI peripheral pins, making Pico become a SPI slave after P2 bootup, for other USB purposes. It'd be worth a try, especially if the price is dirt cheap. It's sort of like a ESP but for adding USB interface instead of Wifi, and acting as a PropPlug for downloads over USB. If you wanted to add Wifi as well you could possibly connect into some ESP32 serial interface via the Pico's second serial port and selectively multiplex that with USB serial on demand. It's all quite flexible.

  • roglohrogloh Posts: 3,317
    edited 2021-02-19 03:45

    Here's the basic diagram for the weird concept above... I should say RP2040 instead of Pico. It's just the chip not the Rpi module.

    You could obviously also have two boot ROMs but that starts to add complexity and I was sort of hoping the in built drag and drop process could download a real P2 image and execute it right away. It would depend on finding the correct instructions that could branch between P2 code and RP2040 code accordingly, all within the first 256 bytes loaded off flash.

    654 x 502 - 123K
  • I've got a couple of these Picos in the office already.

    Ken Gracey




  • Nice.
    What's the thing that the Pico is standing in. And is that Labview running on the monitor via XP?

  • TubularTubular Posts: 4,364

    That would be the mighty popular MACH3 Cnc software, adapted to a special purpose cnc machine.

    Nice soldering fillets there Ken. I'm interested how neat those are, and how the solder hasn't crawledup the castellations like I'd expect. Guess that comes with having super control over it all

  • @"Buck Rogers" said:
    Nice.
    What's the thing that the Pico is standing in. And is that Labview running on the monitor via XP?

    Pico thing is laying upside down, dead-bug on a rail jig in our ACE Selective Solder machine. That's not LabView, it's Mach3 CNC software modified for the ACE machine. It's got an intuitive programming system - drag the nozzle around, do your job, and it writes the G-code for you. It's a fairly simple machine: Gecko Stepper Drives, relays for solder pot, a pump, etc.

    Ken Gracey

  • @"Christof Eb." said:
    There seems to be one benefit for P2:
    Pico shows that Micropython can support more than one core!

    I am still waiting to see about future price policy of Parallax. Will they stay on that level for the very rare niche project, that does "need" P2 or will they make it attractive for very more common applications, that can be done just a little bit more easily with 8 cores?

    Describe more specifically what you're looking for. How many more P2s would you use per year at your desired price? What is the target cost? What is your possible application, and audience?

    Asking with sincerity,

    Ken Gracey

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,695

    @rogloh said:
    ... It all depends on whether its own image can co-exist with the P2 boot image somehow in the first 256 bytes read off the shared flash. ...

    Seems optimistic to hope that.
    Flash is quite cheap and can come small too.

  • TubularTubular Posts: 4,364

    @rogloh said:
    Here's the basic diagram for the weird concept above... I should say RP2040 instead of Pico. It's just the chip not the Rpi module.

    You could obviously also have two boot ROMs but that starts to add complexity and I was sort of hoping the in built drag and drop process could download a real P2 image and execute it right away. It would depend on finding the correct instructions that could branch between P2 code and RP2040 code accordingly, all within the first 256 bytes loaded off flash.

    This diagram perhaps looks more complicated than the implementation strictly needs to be. The P2 could just serial load a bootloader program that enables it to get up to the stage where it can talk to the RP2040 and extract the P2 binary image from the RP2040 flash Mass storage drive, and that P2 load could all be done over serial to conserve pins. I guess its kind of nice to have the serial interface just for debug and programming though

    Its definitely worth a try.

  • roglohrogloh Posts: 3,317
    edited 2021-02-19 04:26

    @jmg said:

    @rogloh said:
    ... It all depends on whether its own image can co-exist with the P2 boot image somehow in the first 256 bytes read off the shared flash. ...

    Seems optimistic to hope that.
    Flash is quite cheap and can come small too.

    Possibly, though I think all that needs to be found is an ARM branch instruction that can jump out and not interfere with the P2 loader at the start of the image (or more likely the converse, a P2 instruction that skips the first 256 ARM code bytes but can execute from the remaining 768 bytes (I think just 1kB is loaded right?)).

  • roglohrogloh Posts: 3,317

    @Tubular said:

    This diagram perhaps looks more complicated than the implementation strictly needs to be. The P2 could just serial load a bootloader program that enables it to get up to the stage where it can talk to the RP2040 and extract the P2 binary image from the RP2040 flash Mass storage drive, and that P2 load could all be done over serial to conserve pins. I guess its kind of nice to have the serial interface just for debug and programming though

    Its definitely worth a try.

    Yeah there are different ways to do it. But I like the idea we can leverage all the hard work done by the Raspi guys and get some type of drag and drop image downloads to the P2 for (almost) free. Feels a bit like we are hijacking the RPi2040/Pico for our own nefarious P2 uses, and I kinda like that. :wink:

  • cgraceycgracey Posts: 13,610
    edited 2021-02-19 05:26

    @rogloh said:
    Feels a bit like we are hijacking the RPi2040/Pico for our own nefarious P2 uses, and I kinda like that. :wink:

    Yeah, how far are they willing to go with their non-profit philanthropy?

    Are they going to make these things so available at that low price that industry could adopt them, too? I wonder if they've considered that.

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,695

    @cgracey said:
    Yeah, how far are they willing to go with their non-profit philanthropy?
    Are they going to make these things so available at that low price that industry could adopt them, too? I wonder if they've considered that.

    The link I gave above shows they are now shipping bare chips, but no indications of MOQ or prices - but yes, there are many RP2040 board variants in the works right now.
    A nice one is in PiZero format, so they can connect to all the Pi peripherals out there that could use a light-weight Pi.

  • roglohrogloh Posts: 3,317
    edited 2021-02-19 06:08

    @jmg said:
    A nice one is in PiZero format, so they can connect to all the Pi peripherals out there that could use a light-weight Pi.

    Wow it's like they've designed the RP2040 IO to have just enough GPIO pins for their 40 pin header standard. Can't be a coincidence. :smile:

    That Meta pico is a cool looking board for simple things. I wonder how it will be priced vs the Pi Zero. It'll be a little ironic if more expensive than the Zero but it won't surprise me if it is.

  • pik33pik33 Posts: 1,031

    I also hawe several Pi Picos The flash can be connected to pico only, let it boot a P2 via serial. If the pico is near the p2, the serial can be fast, both machines can do several Mbps.

    The Pico has a lot of smart pins availavle, although not as smart as P2, but after boot it can work as a GPIO extender for a P2.

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