Microcontrollers, such as those that power the Raspberry Pi’s RP2040, are ideal for robots and projects that require simple and repeatable movements. Cytron came back for a bite of cherries, or the Raspberry, with Cytron Maker Pi RP2040. The board provides a platform to build sensor-controlled projects, such as line-following robots, temperature-controlled fans, and servo-driven robot arms.Of course you can buy one Raspberry Pipeco And attach an additional board, such as Kitronik Pico Robot Board, But Cytron’s development board has similar functions built-in.
Learn from the previous issue Manufacturer Pi Pico, The all-purple PCB on the Maker Pi RP2040 s is designed for beginners. There are clearly marked GPIO pins and Grove connectors on the board. We use Cytron’s latest board to test on our workbench to see how it stacks up.
Cytron Maker Pi RP2040 hardware specifications
|RP2040 system chip||ARM Cortex M0+ running frequency up to 133Mhz|
|Flash memory||2MB QSPI|
|Universal input and output interface||7 Grove ports, 4 servo motor connectors, 2 DC motor terminals.|
|13 x GPIO LED, 2 x WS2812 RGB LED, 1 x piezoelectric buzzer, 2 x buttons.|
|LiPo / Li-ion battery charging|
|USB port||Micro USB|
|aspect||3.46 z 2.52 inches (88 x 64 mm)|
Use Cytron Maker Pi RP2040
It is wise to pre-install CircuitPython. It has access to a large number of libraries and tutorials, making using the board simple and enjoyable. We plugged the Maker Pi RP2040 into our machine and greeted us with a light show and an 8-bit theme tune from a plumber.
We deleted the content of the code.py file and started our test. First, we connected two servos, one through the dedicated servo pin, and the other through the Grove connector. Then we copied two additional CircuitPython libraries to handle the WS2812 RGB LED and servo system. Our code will change the color of the RGB LED and will only stop when we press one of the built-in buttons. This then triggers the two servo systems to move together, just like a robot ballet. Then, we added a PIR sensor through the Grove connector and changed the code to use the sensor trigger sequence. Soon we have a servo ballet with motion control.
We tested the motor terminals using the MX1508 H-bridge motor controller. The maximum current of each motor channel of the controller is 1A, which means that the motor terminals are very suitable for use with amateur DC motors, but more powerful motors require more powerful external motor controllers. We created a simple test for the motor terminals, first using PWM to control the motor speed in both directions. Then we tested using Adafruit’s Motor library for CircuitPython, which abstracts the PWM code to implement simpler robot projects. There are two test buttons for both motor terminals. Pressing each button will make the motor rotate in the set direction, which is a useful function to test whether our motor is working properly before we write the code.
Maker Pi RP2040 shares some functions with the previous Maker Pi Pico: LEDs that display the status of GPIO pins, and buzzers that can be turned off. We did miss the audio output, microSD card slot and Wi-Fi (ESP01) connector. For smaller board layouts, we may not have these features, but we want to be able to access the complete GPIO.
The robot needs a power source, and the Maker Pi RP2040 has three power supply methods. First we have a micro USB port, and then we have a VIN screw terminal for voltages between 3.6 and 6V. Finally, we have a two-pin JST connector for use with lithium polymer batteries. This connector is used to power the Maker Pi RP2040 and charge the LiPo battery when the board is connected to a micro USB power source. Our 500mA LiPo battery is safely charged when the circuit board is powered on and off. All three power supplies power the circuit board, the motor, and any components connected to it.
Use cases of Cytron Maker Pi RP2040
The board is specially designed for robotics projects, so it has the basic knowledge required for simple robots. It is easy to add sensors such as ultrasonic, PIR or line follower via Grove connection. We can buy these pre-wired sensors, or we can buy Grove connectors with jumper connectors and use our own components.
If the robot is not your thing, but something you need to move, whether it is a DC motor or a servo, then the Maker Pi RP2040 is a good choice.
Cytron’s previous development board, the Maker Pi Pico, is an excellent kit and an ideal way to start using Raspberry Pi Pico. The Maker Pi RP2040 is not an all-round kit for projects; its focus is to make things move and simplify building your The first Pico powered robot.
The focus position of the Cytron Maker Pi RP2040 is very good. The hardware is rugged, easy to use, and provides us with enough inputs and outputs to build interesting and useful projects. We do regret the loss of the GPIO pins, but we can reuse the servo pins (GP12-15) as standard GPIO, and for a few dollars, we can use Grove connections and components. Maker Pi RP2040 is a delightful board that can be easily integrated into a series of projects, and the price is less than $10, which is very cost-effective.