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NeoPIO: Drive lots of LEDs with Raspberry Pi Pico

The new RP2040 microcontroller from Raspberry Pi Foundation has a powerful feature: the PIO module, a sort of accelerated I/O processor.

In this guide, you will learn how you can use CircuitPython and PIO together to drive 8 separate NeoPixel LED strands using just 3 GPIO pins and a 74HC595 Shift Register.

One advantage of driving your NeoPixel LEDs this way is that less time is spent actually sending the pixel data to the LEDs—It is about 7.5x faster to show() your NeoPixels with the parallel method. Depending on your project, having parallel strips as opposed to chained strips can also make for better wiring.

Mostly, this guide is just a cool way to show off some of the capabilities of PIO itself.”

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