It may not be the first block-based language for the Raspberry Pi Pico, but Piper Make definitely takes the crown of the best looking. Released yesterday, Piper Make is the latest project from Piper Learning, which previously created the Piper Computer Kit. Piper Make comes as a free online service or as part of a monthly subscription service.
IT'S HERE: Piper Make, available now in your browser on Mac, PCs, and @Google Chromebooks! Start inventing with the new @Raspberry_Pi Pico using our drag-and-drop coding platform! 🧑💻🥧Try it out at https://t.co/8wHaBMGg0T!#WhatWillYouCreate #STEMeducation #RaspberryPiDay pic.twitter.com/rm0Bi0dN1RMarch 14, 2021
Piper Make is a browser-based editor and scheme of lessons designed to introduce MicroPython via the Raspberry Pi Pico. The user interface is clearly designed for younger makers, with bright colors and large icons, but underneath all of this is a decent selection of lessons that introduce coding concepts and electronics via challenges and projects.
We went through the getting started process, first by flashing a custom firmware to our Raspberry Pi Pico and then following the first lesson to get a feel for the workflow. The block interface is extremely easy to use and automatically handles importing the libraries necessary for the blocks on offer.
Certain blocks, such as those found in Sensing, require extra components. For example, the temperature sensor block requires an I2C temperature sensor to be attached. You can purchase these sensors separately, but for a one-off payment of $30, you can purchase a starter kit with a Raspberry Pi Pico and basic components to get you started. The monthly subscription option is $20 and each month a new component is delivered to your door along with new Piper products.
Despite this being a block-based coding platform, Piper Make is really Python. Via the Python tab on the bottom of the screen, we can switch to a view-only mode and see the project's code, which is useful for coders transitioning from blocks to text.
Piper Make is an impressive way to introduce coding, and the monthly subscription model usefully provides curated components and lessons to support your learning.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.
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".