LilyGO T-PicoC3 board merges RP2040 and ESP32-C3, integrates color screen

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LilyGO T-PicoC3 is a small development board combining a Raspberry Pi RP2040 dual-core microcontroller with an ESP32-C3 RISC-V microcontroller to add WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity and adds a 1.14-inch color display to the mix, as well as multiple I/Os.

We previously had other designs merging ESP32 and RP2040 with UDOO KEY, Arduino Nano RP2040 Connect or the Pico Wireless Pack among others, but as far as I know the T-PicoC3 board is the first to use Raspberry Pi RP2040 and ESP32- C3 RISC-V processor.

LilyGO T-Pico3 Specifications:

  • Microcontrollers
    • Raspberry Pi RP2040 dual-core Cortex-M0+ microcontroller with 264 KB onboard SRAM
    • Espressif Systems ESP32-C3 RISC-V processor with WiFi 4 and Bluetooth 5.0 LE connectivity
  • Storage – 4MB SPI flash connected to RP2040
  • Display – 1.14 inch color IPS LCD (ST7789V SPI controller) with 240 x 135 resolution
  • USB – USB Type-C port for power and programming (RP2040 / ESP32-C3)
  • Extension – 15-pin + 12-pin extension headers with
    • RP2040 – Up to 15x GPIO, up to 2x UART, up to 2x I2C, up to 2x SPI, 2x programmable high-speed I/O, up to 3x ADC, 5V, 3.3V and GND
    • ESP32-C3 – Up to 3x GPIO, 1x ADC, Reset and GND
  • Miscellaneous – Boot & Run Buttons (RP2040 Reset), 2x User Buttons, 3x LEDs, Empty SWD Header
  • Power – 5V via USB-C port
  • Dimensions – 53 x 24mm

ESP32-C3 board and Raspberry Pi R2040T-PicoC3 Pinout Map

The Raspberry Pi RP2040 and ESP32-C3 microcontrollers are programmable, and it’s worth noting that the Tx/Rx connection is decided by the orientation of the USB Type-C connector: the A side is for RP2040 (blue LED on) and the side B (green LED on). ) is for ESP32-C3. I had no idea this was possible until today… It doesn’t seem 100% reliable, as the company says that “due to cable issues, the indicator light may be opposite to the actual connected chip, or even two LED lights at once”. If that happens, you’re asked to try another cable, and I think it’s related to whether Pins CC1/CC2 are wired.

Source code and documentation can be found on Github with the RP2040 side having samples for Arduino or MicroPython, and the ESP32-C3 side with Arduino only. Just like other ESP32+RP2040 designs, there aren’t many applications that couldn’t be done with an ESP32 alone. What is interesting here is that LilyGO had already made similar cards with T-Display RP2040 and ESP32 T-Display only using one microcontroller each, but they decided it was worth making another board with the Raspberry Pi MCU AND ESP32-C3…

The LilyGO T-PicoC3 board can be purchased at Aliexpress for $13.58 with free delivery. This is about the normal price of the T-Display RP2040 card (now reduced to $10.95), and now I note the absence of a USB to TTL chip on the T-PicoC3, which probably means that the ESP32-C3’s USB port is used for programming and may explain the similar price.

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