MicroPython 1.20 Brings Raspberry Pi Pico W Support, Lightweight Package Manager

Raspberry Pi Pico W
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

A new version of MicroPython has been released for compatible microcontrollers. This release. version 1.20, sees support for the Raspberry Pi Pico W and brings a new package manager.

Version 1.20 brings support for the Raspberry Pi Pico W's CYW43439 Wi-Fi chip, this means that stock MicroPython can now take advantage of the $6 boards wireless connectivity. Bluetooth support is still missing, in this and the official MicroPython release. Support for Bluetooth isn't too far away now. Bluetooth support was recently added to the Raspberry Pi Pico SDK, so MicroPython isn't too far away now.

The other addition to the release is a new lightweight package manager, mip. Mip is optimized for use with embedded systems. In MicroPython creator Damien George's release post they state that "It is intended to take over the role of upip and supports installing packages from micropython-lib as well as any URL. Mip can be run directly on a device (with network connectivity) or via mpremote." Raspberry Pi Pico W users would need to ensure that their Pico W is connected to Wi-Fi and that they have access to the Python Shell (REPL) in order to use mip directly on the hardware. Raspberry Pi Pico users will need to use mpremote, a command line tool that provides utilities to communicate between a computer and a MicroPython device over a serial interface.

MicroPython, is the creation of programmer and theoretical physicist Damien George and in broad terms it is a port of Python 3 aimed squarely at microcontrollers. MicroPython has been used with a diverse range of boards (ESP32, ESP8266, W600 etc) but for some it was introduced via the Raspberry Pi Pico. 

We were keen to see if the official Raspberry Pi Pico MicroPython firmware featured support for mip. It seems that it does, the latest firmware for the Raspberry Pi Pico W, rp2-pico-w-20230427-unstable-v1.20.0-1-g82a59a824.uf2 does indeed feature mip. We were able to use mip to install a third-party MicroPython module and then directly use it, all from the Python Shell.

Les Pounder

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".