Gary Sims, a developer and educator, has created a custom firmware called “piccoloBASIC” for the Raspberry Pi Pico and other RP2040-based microcontroller boards. This firmware allows programming in the BASIC programming language, a popular language from the 80s and 90s. BASIC was known for its accessibility and was widely used during the home computing revolution.
Sims’ version of BASIC is tailored for modern microcontrollers like the RP2040. The RP2040’s capabilities far exceed the memory and processing power of the systems on which classic BASIC interpreters ran. This version of BASIC offers basic GPIO handling and supports external hardware through the RP2040’s GPIO pins.
Named “piccoloBASIC,” this firmware is a derivative of Adam Dunkels’ uBASIC project, which aimed to run on resource-constrained hardware. Sims’ version removes classic BASIC’s line numbering and introduces labels for GOTO and GOSUB statements. It supports floating point numbers, randomization functions, push and pop stacks for integers, new math functions, and file storage via Arm’s LittleFS.
The compiled firmware, along with the source code under the BSD three-clause license, is available on Sims’ GitHub repository. The project provides a fun and nostalgic way to program microcontrollers using a language that has historical significance in the computing world. If you’re interested in testing this out then we have the perfect Raspberry Pi Pico kits and books for you:
- Kitronik Inventor’s Kit for the Raspberry Pi Pico with Tutorial
- Raspberry Pi Pico W Maker kit 2 power supply 5V 2A
- Get Started with MicroPython on Raspberry Pi Pico