Javascript by the Pico

Javascript by the Pico
The original Espruino board (left) and the new Espruino Pico board (right)
The original Espruino board (left) and the new Espruino Pico board (right)

Last time we looked at the Espruino board it had just started shipping to Kickstarter backers. It, along with the Tessel, are the first in a new generation of boards using Javascript—which runs right on the board itself—that are bringing the web developer community to hardware.

Perhaps surprisingly, there’s always been a history of hardware hacking inside the Node.js and Javascript communities. But with the arrival of these boards they can now hack hardware in their native language, and unlike the communities that have built up around the Arduino, and the Raspberry Pi, the thing that holds this one together is the language, not the board.

Interestingly then, I think this third community might well not settle on a single board—there’s room here for more than one player, and possibly more than one way to do Javascript.

The new Espruino Pico board, now crowdfunding on Kickstarter

I talked to Gordon Williams—the creator of the Espruino—about the board, the conclusion of his last Kickstarter campaign, and the start of his current campaign for the new Espruino Pico,

Talking to Gordon WIlliams about the Espruino Pico

The Espruino Pico board looks something like the DigiSpark. However, unlike the DigiSpark which has an ATTiny85—which smaller, and a less powerful than your standard Arduino—the Espruino Pico has a STM32F401 ARM Cortex M4. So this tiny board is just as powerful than its larger sibling which uses a STM32F103.

The layout of the new Espruino Pico board.
The layout of the new Espruino Pico board.

The specifications of the new board are:

  • 1.26 x 0.6 inch (32mm x 15mm)
  • 22 GPIO pins : 9 Analogs inputs, 21 PWM, 2 Serial, 3 SPI, 3 I2C
  • All GPIO is 5 volt tolerant
  • 2 rows of 8 pins, with 12 pins on double-sided end connector
  • On-board USB Type A connector
  • STM32F401 CPU – ARM Cortex M4, 384kb flash, 96kb RAM
  • On-board 3.3v 150mA voltage regulator, accepts voltages from 3.5v to 20v
  • Current draw in sleep: <0.05mA – over 2.5 years on a 2500mAh battery
  • On-board FET can be used to drive high-current outputs

The Kickstarter campaign for the Espruino Pico is already funded, and still has just over a week to go if you’re interested in picking up one of these boards.

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

View more articles by Alasdair Allan


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