Arduino Vs Raspberry Pi: How to select witch is best for your Project?

Posted by: Satish Kumar

Arduino or Raspberry Pi : This is a common dilemma among electronics community of engineers whether they are DIY hobbyists or professionals working on a prototype. There may be a case that one might have worked on some microcontrollers and now willing to propel the academic excellence by working on development boards or do one needs to choose a development board for a do-it-yourself engineering project. Let's have a fundamental understanding of both the boards to make clear which to select.

First thing is that both Arduino and Raspberry Pi offer a range of development boards with different specifications and features. There are a range of products offered at Arduino platform available under many categories. The Raspberry Pi platform also offers an array of products. You might need to use one of these products from Arduino or Raspberry Pi platform or there could be a possibility that you may need a combo because Arduino and Raspberry Pi are basically different but Complementary.

What is Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform consisting of programmable circuit boards and an integrated development environment (IDE) where programs for running embedded systems applications can be written in C or C++. It is basically a series of microcontroller based development boards popular for simple and straight forward implementation of hardware projects. The heart of Arduino boards is 8-bit AVR microcontrollers. Arduino boards can be making use of controlling a wide range of sensors and actuators by loading add-on boards called Shields. There are shields available for controlling motors, interfacing the LCDs, and connecting to internet, cellular networks and wireless interfaces. The Arduino came into existence in 2005. It was developed by Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles and David Mellis with an aim of reincarnating the Wiring Project by adding support for less costly ATmega8 microcontroller to the already successful Wiring platform. The motto was developing an open-source low-cost embedded electronics tool for non-engineers to build digital projects.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a microprocessor based development board. In contrast to Arduino, the central unit of Raspberry Pi is a 32-bit 900 MHz Broadcom ARM Cortex-A7 or 32-bit 700 MHz Broadcom ARM Cortex-V6 microprocessor. Raspberry Pi is a System-on-Chip. It is a credit card sized Single Board Computer (SBC) developed for teaching basic computer science in schools and colleges. It is like a mini computer just like a desktop computer or notebook computer but with less processing power compared to the motherboards. The Raspberry Pi Foundation based in United Kingdom is the founder and promoter of the platform.

How to begin with Arduino or Raspberry Pi?

If anyone is interested in development boards for academic learning, both Arduino and Raspberry Pi are dimensionally different and offer different things to learn. The Arduino being a microcontroller board is quite useful for sensor based real-time applications where the program logics are not complicated but hardware interfacing is prime factor of the entire endeavour. Arduino runs on "Bare Metal" that is without any operating system just on the firmware. You only need an Arduino board, a bunch of sensors and actuators, Arduino IDE and you can tinker around with Arduino. It can be easily coded with Arduino language (a simplified version of C++) where the basic knowledge of C and HTML is the only pre-requisite. Raspberry Pi being a microcomputer is more useful for multi-media and internet-based applications where more software intelligence is needed and hardware interfacing is just a basic part of the project. Working on Raspberry Pi requires the knowledge of Linux and the python or Ruby scripting language. The Pi runs on Linux distributions. Raspbian is the Linux derivative that is officially supported by the Raspberry Pi platform. So all you need to get your hands dirty with Raspberry Pi is Raspberry Pi board with an LCD screen to get the visual hint of code execution, Scratch IDLE or other Linux supported IDE, knowledge of C, C++, Java and scripting languages like Ruby or Python and some crazy software ideas to implement.
Hence both platforms require different skill sets and offer different things for learning. For academic purpose, the selection between Arduino and Raspberry Pi can be derived from the following table :

You can choose any of the two according to your interest and preference or even why not learn both. A lot of applications require equal focus on hardware interfacing and software intelligence. These applications may require using Arduino in combination with Raspberry Pi, Android phone or other microcomputer. Learning both platforms will strong a foundation on both software and hardware aspect of the embedded electronics and allow you to make more innovative applications.

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