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Olimex Teases New Raspberry Pi Pico Emulation Board

RP2040-PICO-PC from Olimex
(Image credit: Olimex)

The range of Raspberry Pi Pico accessories keeps growing, and the latest is from Olimex. In a render teased via Twitter, Olimex appears to be working on their own breakout board with a focus on emulation, and it looks like they have crammed in everything we could need for a dose of retro computing.

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Olimex, a well-known name in the maker community, has teased its own breakout board for the Raspberry Pi Pico. Its focus is on designing a board to accommodate retro emulation. Spurred on by Graham Sanderson's BBC Micro computer emulator, Olimex confirmed that this board would be their first board in the Pico range.

The RP2040-PICO-PC is, as the name cryptically suggests, a 'PC' that uses the Raspberry Pi Pico as the heart of the board. Looking at the teaser image, it appears that Olimex is looking to use Pico boards directly with the RP2040-PICO-PC. But in a recent tweet, we saw that Olimex had received a sample of bare RP2040 chips intended for community members to develop their own RP2040 devices. Could we see an RP2040 at the heart of the board?

Back to the teaser. In the image, we can see series of two male headers for the Raspberry Pi Pico. Whether they are intended to hold the Pico via solder or friction fit remains to be seen. There is a chance that they could also be breakouts for the GPIO, and the RP2040 is mounted on the underside of the board. Right now, the render is all we have to go on.

The RP2040-PICO-PC has a micro USB port on the right side of the board, and next to there is a two-pin JST connector, most likely for a Lipo battery connection. There's also a micro SD card connector on the bottom left of the board, most likely accessible via an SPI interface. Along the top edge of the board, we see a DVI video output, a USB host connector for a keyboard, and a 3.5mm audio jack. A 10-pin connector is right at the top of the board — this is a UEXT (Universal EXTension) connector that breaks out I2C, SPI, and RS232 serial. The UEXT connector is intended for use with UEXT modules, such as an LCD screen and sensors that are available separately.

How much and when can we buy one? Well, for now, those questions will have to remain unanswered, but we can say that the RP2040-PICO-PC could be a fun project for retro enthusiasts.

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".

  • Findecanor
    I don't see much of a case for most people to choose this over a Raspberry Pi Zero for running an emulator.
    A Zero will most likely have a lower total price, is much faster, has vastly more memory and already has a lot of software support, all in about the same size as a Pico without an additional board.

    I'm pretty sure that PicoGraham had ported emulators to the Pico mostly as a challenge and to show how powerful the RP2040 is — not to showcase it as a good option for running emulators on.

    That said ... I am very tempted to get a board like this myself.
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