If there is one thing Adafruit is known for, its mega-blinky-fun-rainbow-LEDs. We just love sticking NeoPixels anywhere and everywhere. When we saw the new “PIO” feature of the RP2040 from Raspberry Pi, we knew it would be perfect for driving huge numbers of NeoPixels. So we created the Adafruit Feather RP2040 SCORPIO specifically for NeoPixel (WS2812-compatible) control, but also good for various other PIO-based projects that want to take advantage of the Feather pinout with an additional 8 consecutive outputs (or inputs).

The RP2040 PIO state machine is ideal for NeoPixel control: it can generate perfect waveforms, with up to 8 outputs concurrently, all through DMA. That means no processor time is wasted to bit-bang the LED data. Just set up the buffer and tell the PIO peripheral to “make it so.” It issues that data to the 8 outputs without delay while your code can continue to read buttons, play music, run CircuitPython — whatever you like!

SCORPIO has a clever pinout, where all the standard Feather pins are the same as the GPIO numbers, plus the standard I2C, SPI and UART lines — and theres still enough pins left over to have an extra 8 consecutive pins for PIO usage on GPIO16 through GPIO23.

To make NeoPixel usage glitch-free there is a 3V-to-5V level shifter so the output logic is 5V. If you want 3V signals, the shifter voltage is adjustable with a jumper on the bottom. It's also possible to flip the direction of the level shifter to make the 8 I/O pins inputs — say for making a logic analyzer — with a directional jumper selection also on the bottom of the PCB.

The RP2040 SCORPIO also has a ton of RAM, 264KB, making it trivial to buffer huge numbers of NeoPixels…several thousand if needed. In fact there's so much RAM you can even dither the pixels to for finer brightness control, for better-looking LEDs at low brightness or for gamma correction.

We have NeoPXL8 driver code available in Arduino and CircuitPython, so you can jump immediately to making beautiful artworks driven by the Adafruit SCORPIO.

  • Measures 2.0" x 0.9" x 0.28" (50.8mm x 22.8mm x 7mm) without headers soldered in
  • Light as a (large?) feather - 5 grams
  • RP2040 32-bit Cortex M0+ dual core running at ~125 MHz @ 3.3V logic and power
  • 264 KB RAM
  • 8 MB SPI FLASH chip for storing files and CircuitPython/MicroPython code storage. No EEPROM
  • Tons of GPIO! 21 x GPIO pins with following capabilities:
    • Four 12-bit ADCs (one more than Pico)
    • Two I2C, Two SPI, and two UART peripherals, we label one for the “main” in standard Feather locations
    • 16 x PWM outputs - for servos, LEDs, etc.
  • Plus:
    • 8 x consecutive GPIO outputs (or inputs) with 5V level shifting for NeoPixel control
  • Built-in 200mA+ lipoly charger with charging status indicator LED
  • Pin #13 red LED for general purpose blinking
  • RGB NeoPixel for full-color indication on D4
  • On-board STEMMA QT connector that lets you quickly connect any Qwiic, STEMMA QT or Grove I2C devices with no soldering!
  • Both Reset button and Bootloader select button for quick restarts (no unplugging-replugging to relaunch code). Bootloader button is also available as user-input button on GPIO #7
  • 3.3V Power/enable pin
  • 2 mounting holes
  • 12 MHz crystal for perfect timing
  • 3.3V regulator with 500mA peak current output
  • USB Type C connector lets you access built-in ROM USB bootloader and serial port debugging

This guide was first published on Dec 27, 2022. It was last updated on Jun 22, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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