The Neotron dev team, consisting of makers Jonathan Pallant and Kaspar Emanuel, have created a custom PCB to carry our new favorite microcontroller—the Raspberry Pi Pico. The system is designed to resemble a retro-style computer you might find in the '80s, albeit with a micro-ATX form factor.
The best Raspberry Pi projects don't just draw inspiration from others, they add value and utilize the board to its fullest potential. The Neotron Pico is based off the team's existing project, the Neotron 32, another ARM-based retro-style system using the same OS but the Pico adds a new dimension with room for expansion and a cheaper price point. The PCB was designed using KiCad, a free and open source electronics design application, and in the render we can see the Raspberry Pi Pico at the rear of the board, along with ports for PS/2 peripherals, sound, video and a DC barrel jack for power. An unpopulated SD card reader is also present to the right of the VGA connector, if the tracks exist on the board then adding an card reader should be relatively simple.
According to the project documentation, the board is able to output 12-bit Super VGA video using PIO state machines on the Pico. An SPI-to-GPIO expander is used to offer a total of eight IRQs and SPI chip-selects. Users can install up to eight peripherals or expansion slots.
Software-wise the board runs Neotron OS. This OS was written in Rust and is very similar to MS-DOS. You can read more about the PCB in detail and explore the code used in this project on the official Neotron Pico GitHub page.
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Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.