New Pico Debug Probe
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Monday, 20 February 2023

The latest addition to the Raspberry Pi collection is the Raspberry Pi Debug Probe, but I'm not sure why I'd want one.

The Pico isn't an easy device to set up if you are planning to do some low-level programming and in this case you certainly need to implement a debug probe. This is usually done by getting another Pico, downloading Picoprobe software and then making some connections. It seems a little nuts to have two Picos when you are developing something new, but it works well and costs only $4 for the extra Pico.


Now we have an alternative - a special module based on an RP2040 to use as a debug probe. It is essentially a Pico designed just to operate in debug mode. It has a special case and two connectors that mean you don't have to solder anything to make the connection to a Pico under test. You don't have to do any soldering if you are working with a Pico H or WH as these already have connectors for the debug cable, but not for the standard UART. To make this connection you have to either solder or use a prototyping board and jumper wires.

The announcement says:

Arm has helpfully standardised the protocol used to communicate over USB between a host computer and a debug probe. The Raspberry Pi Debug Probe conforms to this CMSIS-DAP standard, and so will work out of the box with many existing debug software platforms, including our favourite, OpenOCD


All true and all very useful. but also true of a standard Pico running the same software.

The post also says:

The Raspberry Pi Debug Probe functions as a USB serial adapter, over the same USB connection as the SWD bridge. It exposes the UART signals on a second three-pin JST connector, again conforming to the Raspberry Pi Debug Connector Specification.

For users who do not require debug functionality, the Raspberry Pi Debug Probe’s low price makes it a cost-effective alternative to other USB serial adapters. It has largely replaced the once-ubiquitous FTDI cable as our adapter of choice here at Pi Towers.

This is also true of a standard Pico running the same software. What it does do is indicate that a Pico is a really good alternative to a standard USB serial adapter - if you are happy soldering things.


The new Debug Probe is very neat, but it costs $12 compared to a $4 Pico and you can't do anything else with it. You are being asked to pay more just to avoid soldering. Personally I'd learn to solder and use a 3D printer to make a case - or leave it naked.

But, if you are not on a tight buget, why not get one.



More Information

Raspberry Pi Debug Probe: a plug-and-play debug kit for $12

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Last Updated ( Monday, 20 February 2023 )