NewsWaveshare RP2040-BLE: A Bluetooth-Centric Raspberry Pi Module

Waveshare RP2040-BLE: A Bluetooth-Centric Raspberry Pi Module

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The Waveshare RP2040-BLE module is a unique offering in the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, combining the power of a Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller with an unnamed Bluetooth 5.1 dual-mode chip. This module, which does not concern itself with WiFi, is specially designed for Bluetooth functionality, supporting a USB-C add-on board that proves useful during the development phase.

Comparing RP2040 Boards

While there are many Raspberry Pi RP2040 boards that feature both a WiFi and Bluetooth module, such as the Raspberry Pi Pico W, the RP2040-BLE board from Waveshare sets itself apart for those who are solely interested in utilizing Bluetooth. This board is not only more power-efficient but also features a design more conducive to integration within products.

Key Features of Waveshare RP2040-BLE

The Waveshare RP2040-BLE is equipped with a Raspberry Pi RP2040 dual-core Arm Cortex M0+ microcontroller that can reach up to 133 MHz. It also boasts 264KB of SRAM and an onboard storage capacity of 2MB Flash memory. The module supports Bluetooth 5.1 dual-mode function (BLE and classic), and it is controlled by serial AT commands. A ceramic antenna is included for connectivity purposes.

The module expands 24x through and castellated holes with 14x multi-function GPIO pins. It includes 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 2x UART, 3x 12-bit ADC, and 14 x PWM. The FPC connector is designed for a board with a USB-C port, Reset and Boot buttons. The module also comes with a temperature sensor.

The power supply can be delivered via a 5V VBUS pin or an FPC connector. The dimensions of the RP2040-BLE board are 33.5 x 21 mm, while the USB-C board measures 18 x18 mm.

Programming and Compatibility

The RP2040-BLE module supports drag-and-drop programming using mass storage over USB, mirroring the functionality of the original Raspberry Pi Pico (W). This module is compatible with MicroPython and C/C++ SDKs, as well as Arduino programming. There are resources available to help you get started, which include details about the Bluetooth APIs and resources such as (partial) schematics. However, it remains unclear which Bluetooth chip the module uses, and whether it’s compatible with the Raspberry Pi Pico Bluetooth implementation.

Pricing and Availability

The Waveshare RP2040-BLE module is priced approximately at $11 and can be purchased on platforms such as Aliexpress or Amazon with free shipping. The kit, which includes the USB-C board and FPC cable, costs an additional 90 cents on Aliexpress. Depending on your location, it may be more expensive than the Raspberry Pi Pico W, but it’s quite smaller. The module and kit are also available on the Waveshare shop for $6.49 and $7.49, excluding shipping charges.

As the demand for Bluetooth-centric Raspberry Pi modules increases, the Waveshare RP2040-BLE offers a unique, power-efficient, and highly integrable solution for developers and enthusiasts alike.

Michal Pukala
Electronics and Telecommunications engineer with Electro-energetics Master degree graduation. Lightning designer experienced engineer. Currently working in IT industry.