Phillip Burgess Hacks a Raspberry Pi Pico Down to Size — Literally Sawing Off the Bottom Quarter

If the Raspberry Pi Pico's just a little bit too big for your project, this literal hack drops the size by 30 percent — just add saw.

Phillip Burgess (AKA Paint Your Dragon) has shown off an interesting way to literally hack the Raspberry Pi Pico: sawing off the rear quarter of the board, to cram the module into smaller spaces.

Released earlier this year, the Raspberry Pi Pico is a breadboard-friendly module hosting Raspberry Pi's first-ever microcontroller and first design from its in-house application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) team. While the board is already compact, a range of even-smaller third-party alternatives based on the same RP2040 microcontroller have hit the market — but none can match the impressive $4 asking price of the original Raspberry Pi Pico.

Which is where Burgess' hack comes in: A way to reduce the footprint of the Raspberry Pi Pico by around 30 percent for free, by literally sawing off a portion of the PCB.

"[It's now] 30% smaller," Burgess writes of the modified Raspberry Pi Pico. "You lose some GPIOs, two mounting holes and debug. Confirmed all 16 remaining GPIO still work. [I was] inspired by that time I bandsaw’d a Raspberry Pi B+ down to A+ size and IT STILL WORKED."

Raspberry Pi's Alasdair Allan confirmed that "there is nothing to stop you cutting the end [off] your Raspberry Pi Pico, you vandals," sharing Giles Read's earlier X-ray image of the board showing the only traces within the PCB which go to the base of the board are all linked to the lower GPIO and debug pins — and without the pins, there's no need for the traces.

"One of the bonuses of designing both the chip and the board is that the routing from the RP2040 chip on Raspberry Pi Pico is really clean," Allan adds. "The two were designed together."

More discussion on the hack can be found on Burgess' Twitter thread.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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