If BitsNBlobs Electronics’ Pico development board looks familiar, that’s because it’s an updated version of the Glasgow-based company’s Piksey 328 Core, only it’s been outfitted with an ATmega328PB MCU over the Core’s ATmega328P. That may not sound like much, but considering what it brings to the table, it’s certainly worth taking a look.
The Pico is still the smallest Arduino development board on the planet, at 20.32×20.32mm. It’s breadboard compatible, and offers roughly the same amount of flash (31.5/32Kb), 1Kb of EEPROM, and 2Kb of onboard SRAM. You’ll also find the same 18V max input, tactile reset switch, Micro USB, and LED indicators.
So what does the 328PB Core have over the 328P that makes the Pico an attractive alternative to the Piksey? To start with, there are an additional two 16-bit timers/counters, a good deal for those writing code for hardware without an OS backup. You even get two more I2C, SPI, USART serial buses, and 10 PWM channels (over six).
The most significant addition, though, has to go to the 328PB’s onboard capacitive-sensing hardware, specifically a Microchip QTouch PTC (8-bit AVR), which allows you to run capacitive touch buttons without the need for additional ICs and supports both self (up to 24 buttons) and mutual (up to 144 buttons) capacitance sensors.
The Pico retains the same amount of user accessible GPIO as the 328 Core and maintains its compatibility with Arduino Uno and Nano sketches, which is also a plus. Best of all, it costs the same as the Core (at just $8), but you get the Pico’s additional features. BitsNBlobs Electronics is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, and have an expected delivery date of December of this year.