Adafruit's Scorpio Turns the RP2040 into an 8-Channel Blinkenlights Beast!

Adafruit and amazing LED displays - name a more iconic duo! For the longest time, Adafruit's products have been the go-to for all DIY blinkenlights and flashy goodness, and their latest dev board pushes this concept up to 11!

Well, 8. We talk about it on this week's Electromaker Show:

In short, the $15 Scorpio dev board takes the regular Feather form factor and adds 8 extra pins to the bottom of the board. These coincide neatly with the 8 consecutive I/Os of the RP2040's PIO system, which uses direct memory manipulation to drive 8 channels of WS2812x/Neopixel addressable LEDs.

Adafruit RP2040 SCORPIO

If you aren't familiar with the RP2040 and PIO, this is something pretty special indeed. Most boards require you to "bitbang" data to LED strips, taking up valuable MCU time every cycle. This isn't a problem if you are working on a simple LED setup, but the timing gets tricky once you start working with complex code with many moving parts.

Scorpio uses PIO to drive 8 channels simultaneously without clogging up the MCU, allowing you to poll sensors, read buttons, drive displays... anything.

Ok, I cannot for a moment deny that I'm thinking about the most fabulous glitzy shiny synthesizer ever made right now. You can find out more about the Scorpio, including where to buy one, on the Feather RP2040 Scorpio overview page.

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