Is this the world’s first Raspberry Pi Pico birthday card?

We know Kevin McAleer best for his robots, but a big birthday in his family inspired him to pivot to greetings cards. He has created what we’re loosely billing as the world’s first Raspberry Pi Pico-powered birthday card. This interactive build guides the recipient to press buttons and play their personalised greeting.

Check out the accompanying build post on Kevin’s blog


  • Raspberry Pi Pico
  • Capacitive touch sensor
  • 5 × 5 matrix display
  • Speaker
  • Buzzer (acting as a musical instrument in this build)
  • LiPo battery and charger

Kevin managed to source all the hardware needed for this project for around £30. With the price of ordinary birthday cards these days, that’s not bad at all for something handmade that the recipient is more likely to save than a shop-bought card.

How does it work?

Raspberry Pi Pico powers the touch sensor, LED display, buzzer, and speaker. All the electronics are held in place by a slim 3D-printed insert. Kevin used a few snippets of MicroPython code to run on the Pico and perform various celebratory functions when the touch sensor is pressed:

  • — plays Happy Birthday via the speaker (additional singing along optional)
  • — shows a birthday cake image on the 5 × 5 display screen
  • — displays scrolling text on the display screen (rude comments about the recipient’s age optional)

If you want all of the above to happen at the same time with one press of the sensor, you can use to do that.

Card art

Here is the STL file you need to 3D print your own card insert: card-insert.stl. Once all your electrical components are tucked safely into it, just hot glue it inside a sturdy piece of folded card on which you’ve drawn your own design. Kevin used Canva to create the graphics on the front of his card for free. I’m guessing the person celebrating their 21st birthday is a scuba diving enthusiast, otherwise his design choice is bafflingly niche.

Personally, I’d like a front cover featuring Dolly Parton with Adafruit sequin lights in her hair (like in this GIF) and Here You Come Again playing when I press the buzzer, seeing as my birthday has a habit of rolling around every single year. I am also 89% sure our Helen would want Yma o Hyd played inside her Pico birthday card because she’s been singing it in the office on and off for a week or so now. I haven’t asked why.

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