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Early Raspberry Pi Pico and Rust

The Raspberry Pi Pico announced earlier this year is a $4 microcontroller board from the makers of the ever-popular Raspberry Pi. As a Rust-enthusiast one of first questions I tend to investigate is:

Can it run Rust?

TL;DR Yes, but it’s not quite ready for prime-time. Yet.


The Pico utilizes the (also new) RP2040 microcontroller. Compared to the already minimalist Pi Zero, it has even more modest specs:

  • Dual-core Arm Cortex M0+ processor at up to 133 MHz
  • 264KB of SRAM, and 2MB of on-board Flash memory
  • USB 1.1 with device and host support
  • 26 × multi-function GPIO pins
  • 2 × SPI, 2 × I2C, 2 × UART, 3 × 12-bit ADC, 16 × controllable PWM channels
  • Temperature sensor
  • Accelerated floating-point libraries on-chip
  • 8 × Programmable I/O (PIO) state machines for custom peripheral support

Rust Demo

First, download and install ARM toolchain for the host system. If necessary, add it to PATH environment variable. For example, if you install the .pkg on a Mac you’ll need to add /Applications/ARM/bin/.

Next, setup rest of build environment and build a simple demo:

# Add support for ARM Cortex M0+
rustup target add thumbv6m-none-eabi

# Build pico-sdk for elf2uf2 binary
git clone --depth 1 --recursive --single-branch
pushd pico-sdk && mkdir build && cd build
cmake .. && make
# Output: build/elf2uf2/elf2uf2 (executable)

# Build sample program and convert output from elf to uf2
git clone
cd pico-blink-rs
cargo build --release
../pico-sdk/build/elf2uf2/elf2uf2 target/thumbv6m-none-eabi/release/pico-blink-rs pico-blink-rs.uf2
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rp2040_pac seems to have changed since the example was written, so cargo build fails with “error[E0609]: no field gpio25 on type PADS_BANK0”. In change:

     // Configure pin 25 for GPIO
- p.PADS_BANK0.gpio25.write(|w| {
+ p.PADS_BANK0.gpio[25].write(|w| {
         // Output Disable off
         // Input Enable on;
- p.IO_BANK0.gpio25_ctrl.write(|w| {
+ p.IO_BANK0.gpio[25].gpio_ctrl.write(|w| {
         // Map pin 25 to SIO
- w.funcsel().sio_25();
+ w.funcsel().sio_0();
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Finally, flash the uf2 (like with MicroPython or C/C++):

  1. Push and hold the BOOTSEL button on the Pico and plug into host USB port
    • Pico should mount as Mass Storage Device “RPI-RPI2” on host
  2. Copy UF2 file to “RPI-RP2” volume
  3. Pico will reboot and run program

Coming Soon is pretty… low-level. To address this, rp-hal is in progress to implement the Rust Embedded HAL. Once that is complete, the same example might be written like a similar example for the Adafruit METRO M0:

fn main() -> ! {
    let mut peripherals = Peripherals::take().unwrap();
    let core = CorePeripherals::take().unwrap();
    let mut clocks = GenericClockController::with_external_32kosc(
        &mut peripherals.PM,
        &mut peripherals.SYSCTRL,
        &mut peripherals.NVMCTRL,
    let mut pins = hal::Pins::new(peripherals.PORT);
    let mut red_led = pins.d13.into_open_drain_output(&mut pins.port);
    let mut delay = Delay::new(core.SYST, &mut clocks);
    loop {
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Nowhere close to as svelte as the MicroPython version, but then Rust isn’t particularly well known for being terse.

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