Raspberry Pi announces three new products (the Pico W, H and WH), all updates of the Raspberry Pi Pico board, which has become quite popular amongst makers and hobbyists in a very short time. Let's take a look. 

Headers on the Raspberry Pi Pico H

The first and least spectacular update is the Pico H, which is simply a Pico board with headers pre-mounted instead of castellated solder contacts. It is intended for use on for instance breadboards, to facilitate the life of its target audience. The gold-plated castellated contacts have been replaced by normal holes, which helps keeping the price down.

The Pico H has one more important modification: a new debug connector, a tiny 3-pin device for which nobody has an adapter cable. Luckily, the three contacts are also available on the bottom of the module as solder pads, so you can mount a more suitable connector if you like, or directly solder wires on them.

The Pico H is supposed to retail at $5 instead of $4 for the original Pico.
Raspberry Pi Pico H has headers
The Raspberry Pi Pico H comes with headers. The debug contacts are on the left.

Go Wireless with the Pico W

The second new product is the Pico W. This is a bit more interesting as the ‘W’ indicates wireless. Indeed, by adding an Infineon CYW43439 wireless chip the Pico board has acquired wireless capabilities. It features IEEE 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN, and, in theory, also Bluetooth 5.2, but only wireless LAN (meaning Wi-Fi for most people) is supported.

The CYW43439 is a highly integrated device with separate wireless LAN and Bluetooth blocks, each having their own ARM Cortex-M3 processor and memory. The wireless LAN part of the CYW43439 communicates with the Pico’s RP2040 MCU over a 1-bit SDIO bus. Four GPIO pins are required for this: GPIO23, 24, 25 and 29. The latter is also ADC input 3, so this analog input can only be used when the wireless module is not communicating with the RP2040.

Probably due to a lack of pins on the RP2040, the Bluetooth interface is not connected at all. Maybe a future version of the Pico will share some GPIO pins with the Bluetooth module?
Raspberry Pi Pico W
The Raspberry Pi Pico W has an Infineon CYW43439 wireless chip under the hood.

A New Voltage Regulator

To handle the extra power requirements for the wireless chip, the power supply has been beefed up. This is now based on an RT6154 from Richtek who is also responsible for the voltage regulator on the original Pico board. It has two operating modes, power-save mode, the default, and PWM, which can be selected through the GPIO1 pin of the wireless chip. A second GPIO pin of the wireless chip, GPIO0, controls a new LED.

The debug connector is now in between the MCU and the wireless module as the board edge houses the antenna. The mounting holes on this side of the board are now plated and connected to ground. On the original Pico, they are isolated holes.

Of course, the Pico SDK has been updated to support the new wireless LAN functions.

The Pico W should retail for only $6, making it a very attractive wireless MCU board indeed. It is for the moment only available in Europe and North America. Certification for other countries is being worked on and expected to take up to three months.

Want Wireless and Headers? The Pico WH!

For those who want all updates in one convenient module, there is the Pico WH. However, even though it is announced now, it will probably not be available before September 2022. It is expected to retail for $7.