Pimoroni's Plasma 2040 Wants to Light Up Your Life

Pimoroni's Plasma 2040
(Image credit: Future)

There's one problem every maker has when the holidays arrive: How do we add LEDs to our decorations? The Plasma 2040, Pimoroni's latest attempt at the best RP2040 board, aims to solve that problem with solid hardware that takes all of the guess work out of addressable LEDs.

The Raspberry Pi Pico's RP2040 dual-core Arm Cortex M0+ is pressed into service for this unique board. 

The Plasma 2040 is designed for RGB LEDs. Be they WS2812 "NeoPixels" or APA102 "Dotstar," this little board can handle them. Four screw terminals handle data and power connections for the RGB LEDs. These terminals provide a strong and robust means to quickly get connected. 

Also present are a curated number of GPIO pins. We don't get the full GPIO of the Raspberry Pi Pico, but do get analog inputs, debug pins, digital / PWM pins, SPI and I2C. There's also a Stemma QT connector, which shares the I2C pins of the GPIO, for use with Adafruit's Stemma QT and SparkFun's Qwiic connectors

Inputs consist of reset and boot buttons, along with two user-configurable buttons. Power and data connectivity is via a single USB-C port, a welcome and robust addition.

(Image credit: Future)

As this is an RP2040, you can write code using MicroPython, Arduino and C. But to get the most from this board, CircuitPython looks to be the best bet. 

We've had this board in our hands for just a few hours, and within 30 minutes we had a basic NeoPixel test running via CircuitPython and a 1m strip of side-lit "neon" RGBW NeoPixel LEDs.

What's the price and release date for the Plasma 2040? Only time will tell, but we will have a full review of the board in the very near future.

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".