Pico temp and various musings

Hi all - starting to try some experiments with the PICO and noticed the CPU gets pretty HOT. That’s outside of a case or any form of enclosure or operating over time.

Various places on and around the CPU are bouncing around 140 - 150F

Everything is working fine.

The power is connected directly to the LEDs, with the 4 DIN pins wired up to the PICO.

But got to wondering whats normal?

And if reducing the voltage back-feeding the Pico to more like 3.3 v would help reduce the heat?

I did notice the power regulator i am using currently is reducing 12v to about 5.1 or 5.2 volts. which means right now its being supplied with a slightly high (0.2v) voltage in the configuration i used to measure the temp.

Whats a normal operating temp for these chips?

Was considering putting a heat sink on the CPU but was not sure if that would interfere with the radios.

This is pretty normal. The esp32 pico chips run pretty hot. There’s quite a bit going on, dual 240MHz cpus and wifi, all in 7x7mm. Making sure the board can get some airflow can help. You can add a tiny heat sink, they do help, just keep the metal bits away from the antenna (blue chip) end of the PCB past the button.

It’s hotter than you want on your skin, but is well within the chip’s operating range (-40C to +85C). In tests where I stuffed one in a bunch of insulating foam it can reach near the high end of that range, so I recommend keeping it ventilated or giving it some way to dissipate heat.

Assuming a draw of around 170mA, 0.2V extra will generate 0.034W of additional heat (about 4% more). Likewise, yes, lowering the voltage a bit can help too. 5V is only needed for the data signals to the LEDs, and many LEDs will work with lower data voltages. If it’s adjustable, I’d try it in the 3.6-4V range.

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Thanks for the info I’ll see how low it can go - thanks for sharing about the voltage and data line. wow, 85C max operating temp, now that’s hot!

I just put this on my backlog…

Epic: “Make the pico keep my coffee warm”
Scenario: Put in the right base the pico might be able to keep my coffee warm and provide some eye candy too…