Raspberry Pi recently announced that anyone can buy the RP2040 chip for just $1 but unless you have the skills and the tools, soldering the RP2040 into your own project can be difficult. Today JCLPCB have announced that the RP2040 is available as a part that can be placed on your custom designed circuit boards by their in-house service and shipped to your door.
As you guys wish , RP2040 is available in JLC SMT parts library ! @Raspberry_Pi @EbenUpton pic.twitter.com/ZPoXuToxX0June 25, 2021
The RP2040, a dual core Arm Cortex M0+ running at up to 133 MHz and featuring 264KB of RAM is a potent chip, and for a dollar it is fast becoming the makers choice for a range of projects.
JLCPCB are an online PCB fabrication service where makers can submit their boards for production. JLCPCB also offer a parts service where surface mount (SMT) parts are placed and soldered onto your PCB. JLCPCB have over 80,000 surface mount components and Raspberry Pi's RP2040 is the latest addition. The price of the RP2040 on JLCPCB is $1.49, so we pay a little more for the convenience, but for a small run of hobby boards this isn't a big deal. Those wishing to make a volume purchase will of course have the ability to negotiate on price.
The RP2040 SoC is a surface mount component with a fine pitch (the distance between the pins) which makes hand soldering difficult. You can solder the RP2040 using reflow ovens and solder paste, but that is an additional cost and requires the skill to do it.
If you are not quite ready to design your own RP2040 PCB but you need the smallest possible package, then perhaps Pimoroni's PGA2040 is an option? PGA2040 breaks out the GPIO of the RP2040 into a package that bears a striking similarity to a 486 CPU.
JLCPCB's addition of the RP2040 is sure to trigger a fresh batch of hobbyist boards that harness the power of the $1 chip.
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Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".