PICOmputer connects Raspberry Pi Pico to QWERTY keyboard, display, and optional LoRa module

Peter Misenko (aka Bobricius) has found an interesting use case for the Raspberry Pi Pico board with its PICOmputer, a compact terminal with a QWERTY keyboard, a small IPS display, and even footprint for an RFM95 LoRa module that would allow messaging/texting over LoRaWAN.

Note the open-source hardware project is only offered as a kit with either the main board only, or the main board plus a gold or silver front panel, all without components, but fully assembled units are out of stock at this time. So read on, if you’re ready for some soldering and even some rework of the PCB, more on that latter.

PICOmputer

PICOmputer key features and specifications:

  • Compatible with Raspberry Pi Pico board
  • Storage – MicroSD card slot
  • Display – Three types supported:
    • 1.3-inch ST7789 IPS 240×240 display via 12-pin flex cable
    • 1.54-inch ST7789 IPS 240×240 display via 12-pin flex cable
    • ST7789 IPS 240×240 display via 8-pin header
  • Audio – Speaker
  • User input – QWERTY keyboards plus D-Pad
  • Connectivity – Optional RFM95 LoRa radio (note: untested, and cannot be used at the same time as the MicroSD card)
  • Expansion – 10-pin GPIO header
  • Misc – On/Off switch, Reset button, openings for boot button, and LED on RPi Pico
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB-C port
  • Dimensions – 100 x 65 x 8 mm

Raspberry Pi Pico QWERTY computer with display & LoRa module

PICOmputer is primarily a development kit, so you’d be expected to program your own software on the device. Having said that, code samples in Arduino and CircuitPython can be found on Github together with the PNG schematics and PCB layout.

I mentioned you may have to rework the PCB earlier, and indeed, as the DELETE button has no connection and a wire must be soldered to fix that. Watch Peter goes through his design and how it could be assembled to meet your requirements.

PICOmputer is sold on Tindie with four options:

  • $9.50 bare main board only
  • $14.25 bare main board + SILVER front panel
  • $17.10 bare main board + GOLD front panel
  • $67.45 assembled (out of stock) with 36 buttons, Raspberry Pi Pico, 1.57-inch LCD, USB-C port, speaker, silver panel

The first three options do not have components at all, so you’d have to source the buttons, the Pico board, etc… separately and solder them yourself. The full list of components can be found on Tindie.

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