How about building your home automation system yourself? This is now possible thanks to the Raspberry Pico W, a microcontroller with wifi connectivity produced by the famous Raspberry Foundation.
Despite the shortage of components, Raspberry Pi continues to launch microgadgets of all kinds. The foundation, known for its very low-cost microcomputers such as the Raspberry 4, has just announced the release of its latest product: the Pico W.
A microcontroller with wifi chip
Revised and corrected version of the Pico released in 2021, this new product’s main advantage is to natively embed 802.11n wifi compatibility.
As a reminder, the Pico – and a fortiori this Pico W – is not a computer in its own right, but rather a microcontroller. Capable of performing simple tasks, this processor attached to a little memory can be integrated into a whole host of robotic or home automation projects. Connected to LED lighting, it automates certain tasks by interpreting simple commands to turn on, for example, the light bulb in the living room depending on the ambient light. By plugging in an infrared sensor and with a bit of programming, it is possible to transform the Pico into a robot “brain” capable of moving on its own.
The great versatility of the Pico, and its very low price around 5 €, have earned it a great success in the community of hackers of all kinds. According to the Raspberry Foundation, more than two million cards have been sold. Problem, in its first version, the Pico was devoid of wifi connectivity. This severely limited its possibilities, since it was difficult to control the accessory from your smartphone or computer. The Pico W therefore corrects this shortcoming for a higher price, since the gadget costs 7 € in its basic version.
The on-board wifi modem (the Infineon CYW43439, to be precise) is not among the fastest or most efficient, but offers new programming horizons for the Raspberry microcontroller. One can imagine that a connected Pico W will manage a lighting system, but this time with the possibility of controlling it from an application via his smartphone. Homemade smart bulbs in short. Connected to a motor, it could also be used as a D-style connected lock.
The Pico W embeds an RP204 chip with an ARM Cortex M0+ processor clocked at 133 Hz, with 264 kB of RAM and 2 MB of memory. Either the same technical sheet as the first Pico of the name, with full backward compatibility as a bonus. Not enough to run any operating system, but it’s enough to make it a nice home automation accessory, especially given its wifi connectivity. With a fleet installed behind your light bulbs, your motion detectors or your old TV, it is possible to create a real home automation ecosystem entirely handmade.
The Pico W is available on the Kubii store for exactly €6.99. All the documentation for programming the Pico W is available on the Raspberry site.