Peter "Bobricius" Misenko Shows Off the PyPrCa, an RP2040-Powered Python Programmable Calculator

This little gadget hides a few tricks up its sleeve, from retro computer emulation to LoRa-powered private messaging.

Engineer Peter "Bobricius" Misenko has designed another portable computer powered by the Raspberry Pi Pico and its RP2040 microcontroller — and despite being dubbed the PyPrCa, for Python Programmable Calculator, its skills extend well beyond simple mathematical solutions.

"My new build [is a] universal programmable pocket handheld computer in [a] pocket calculator style," Misenko explains of his design. "There is [a] numerical block for better native enter[ing of] numbers and [a] QWERTY block for writ[ing] programs. Instead of searching [for] 2nd, 3th colorful symbols on [a] chaotic ABCD keyboard you can type SIN,COS etc. on [the] well-known QWERTY keyboard."

The idea behind the build is to serve as a programmable calculator, capable of executing Python scripts penned on-device. That's by no means its only capability, though: the gadget also breaks out some general-purpose input/output (GPIO) capabilities of the Raspberry Pi Pico which powers it, along with SD Card storage and a 2.8" IPS full color display.

That latter, somewhat overkill for a simple calculator, provides a hint as to another of the device's capabilities: retro-gaming emulation, coming pre-loaded with emulators for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128K+, Commodore 64, and the Atari 800, all selectable from a handy boot menu.

Taking a leaf from Misenko's earlier Armachat project, the "calculator" also boasts an embedded LoRa radio transceiver — turning it into a portable battery-powered messenger device. All this, plus a piezoelectric beeper, in what Misenko claims is a design with "very simple construction."

Misenko has not yet released the design files or source code for the project, which he says is still "under development," but more information is available in his Reddit post.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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