Arduino vs Raspberry Pi – what’s the difference
Windows vs Mac, Nvidia vs AMD, Firefox vs Chrome… There are so many debates in the community of electronics geeks. It was only natural the Arduino vs Raspberry Pi debate would see fruition at some point. But is the debate really necessary in this case?
Glancing at both boards would reveal where the debate comes from. They are similar in size, both are used to control electronic components and are quite popular in the maker community. They are about as same as apples are to oranges, though. They are both electronic boards, yes, but it would be very wrong to say they are the same. Let’s get into more detail as to why.
Arduino is a circuit board commonly referred to as a microcontroller. It is based on the ATmega328P microchip. It is used to control electronic components. You can control components like light sensors, motors, wireless and Bluetooth modules, OLED displays, etc.
The core of the Arduino is a microcontroller. It is why the whole board is often referred to as a microcontroller. It has more or less everything needed to store, run and execute programs within the chip.
Arduinos come in all shapes and sizes. Both hardware and software are open-sourced so everybody can make their own Arduino (like we did! ). Because of this, no matter how big your project is, there’s usually an Arduino to fit your needs. On top of that, there are also breakout boards and shields that you can connect to your Arduino. These allow you to expand the possibilities of it!
To program your Arduino board you will need to connect it to a computer. Writing the code is usually done in the Arduino IDE. It uses a simplified version of C++ making it easy to learn even for beginners. There are also a few third-party options for programming it using languages like Python and Blockly.
Raspberry Pi is a circuit board based on a microprocessor. It can control electronic components, same as Arduino. Unlike Arduino’s microcontroller that does it all, Raspberry Pi’s microprocessor needs other chips to work with the code. On the plus side, you can connect a mouse, keyboard, and other peripherals directly to the board. The same way you would to your desktop computer.
Because Raspberry Pi has built-in RAM, USB graphics, wireless, hard drive, Bluetooth, and runs the Linux operating system, it needs more power than Arduino to run. More chips and software make it more complex than Arduino, as well as more complicated to work with. Being an entire computer itself, you can see why the Arduino vs Raspberry Pi comparison quickly diminishes.
But where does the comparison come from, anyway? If you take a look at the board, you’ll see a set of general-purpose input-output pins.
They are used to control other electronic components, just like on Arduino. They may not be as extensive as the GPIO pins on Arduino, but they can still do most of the same things. Controlling the LEDs, OLEDs and LCDs, sensors, motors, and a lot more is possible on Raspberry Pi as well.
Since the Raspberry Pi is essentially a full computer, you don’t need a separate computer to program it. You can program it directly on itself! Python is the primary programming language, but since it uses a Linux-based OS, you can also use other popular languages.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation continuously develops and updates new versions of Raspberry Pi due to its popularity. Similar to Arduino shields, Raspberry Pi has HATs – boards connected to Raspberry Pi’s set of 40 GPIO pins. HATs add functionalities such as lights, motors, sensors, fans, and everything else you’d expect from an Arduino Shield to Raspberry Pi.
To make the differences even more clear, we thought a side-to-side comparison would do the trick. This way, the differences should be more apparent at just a glance.
Which one should you get?
After all these comparisons, you might wonder – should I then get Raspberry Pi if it’s a small computer? The price is usually higher which means it has to be better, right? Not necessarily. They are different tools and your choice will depend on the project you’re planning on doing.
If you’re going to work with just senors and other electronic components, Arduino would be more than enough. If you plan on adding computer elements to your project, like a webcam, you should consider Raspberry Pi.
If you are a beginner and just starting, we would recommend you get an Arduino board first. An Arduino starting kit will provide you with all the components you’ll need to start tinkering. It is designed for beginners and is a great and simple way to step into the world of electronics. When you’re comfortable enough with that, you can view Raspberry Pi as the next step.
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