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Videos / Arduino vs Raspberry Pi

One of the big questions in DIY electronics circles is which DIY platform is going to be the best for me? And the two biggest platforms right now is Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Whilst at first glance they might seem the same; circuit board with some electronic chips and header pins. However they really are completely different beasts. Today we’ll be looking at a broad feature comparison on each platform

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Hey guys, it’s Sam here from Core Electronics and today we’re going to be taking a look at Arduino versus Raspberry Pi.  It’s a question i’ve gotten heaps and so I thought I’d do a bit of a write up and a video explaining what the key differences are between two of the most popular DIY and maker platforms available. Now if you haven’t checked it out already I’d recommend going and taking a look at some of the content on the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino.  They’ll cover the features and the specs a bit more in depth but today we’re just going to look at the key differences and look at a bit of a comparison and decide which ones going to be better for your project or you’re going to enjoy more and you know be really able to sink your teeth in and get that great project out there.

So the Raspberry Pi is pretty much a stand alone computer in the form of a credit card. You’ve got a System-On-Chip here which has your CPU, your GPU you’ve got your memory on the underside, it’s running at 1.2GHz. Now if you compare that, I’ve got an Arduino unit here, now there’s plenty of other Arduino boards out there but we’re using the Arduino UNO because it’s the most popular one.  It’s clocked at with 8 or 16MHz and when you compare that MHz to 1.2GHz you might wonder why anyone would want to use an Arduino but it’s not as clear cut as that.

Now the Raspberry Pi is a computer so you’re running an operating system on the SD card, you know there’s so many different layers of software it has to boot up, it has to run software to have that pretty desk top and graphic user interface that you’re used to.  You’ve got all these applications and programs that are taking up huge amounts of space and resources on it just so you can run those and you know have built in HDMI support and all the rest, so that comes at a cost of power which is why it, like modern computers have so much processing power.

Now the Arduino has a micro controller which is what you call more of a bare metal approach. So its not a self contained computer if you want audio or video you have to have extra circuitry to enable it and work with communication buses and things like that.  You’ve only got a USB Port which is for serial communication to the computer and you need a computer to upload code onto your Arduino, you can’t write your own code in it like you can with the Raspberry Pi. So things are tilting a bit in the Raspberry Pi this way but to understand it we need to get a little bit deeper. 

So with the Raspberry Pi if I want to say you know use the GPIO Pins, I want to turn an LED on or off.   I can’t just program the chip just to do that because otherwise nothing will happen, I have to have an operating system on there which boots up all these different layers of software. Then I have to open another  application, write the code in that which tells all these different software layers.  So it goes from here, I’ve got my code,  filters through, filters through until it gets to, you know, the direct access of the pins on the processor and I can then access those.  And that takes time even though, you know, you can’t really recognise the time, it takes processing power whereas with the Arduino I’m writing a set of instructions which get converted into ones and zeros on to the chip where i’m controlling every function and every feature directly .  If I tell this pin to out put a high signal it’s going to put a high signal exactly as i tell it in that code, does nothing more, nothing less.  So they’re some of the key differences there’s a bit of a table and a graph down here about the differences between a micro processor and a micro controller which is a bit of a quick reference guide.

So if your project, I think it boils down to what kind of project you want to do. My takeaway is you if want to get into software, you want to learn about Linux and coding and web interaction and things like that then the Raspberry Pi is going to be your go to. It supports heaps of different programming languages you can customise it as a computer to suit whatever needs you want, you can browse the web, you can text edit, all that kind of stuff  which is awesome.  But if your project is hardware driven, so you’re using a lot of sensors and interacting with the real world at a really low level with hardware the Arduino or a similar platform is going to be your go to because you can control all these pins directly.  You don’t have all these overheads, if you want to use a pin you can use the pin directly through the registers on this chip as easy as a single line of code. You can upload that and away you go.  So something to think about, they’re definitely beasts, they’re different platforms altogether and it’s not a case of one being better than the other.  You know if you just compare the specs on paper you’re going to go well, there’s no comparison really, why would you even look at Arduino but you actually have to get down to what you’re using it for what’s going on because all these peripherals, the ethernet, the USB, the HDMI, they all take up power and that’s where most of the power of a Raspberry Pi you know, is bundled up.  Whereas the Arduino is a much simpler device but much more kind of powerful if used in the right way.

So I hope this gave you a bit of an idea of the differences and what are a few things you should consider when building your project.  I’ve got the Arduino unit here but there’s so many different Arduino boards. Some are smaller some are bigger than the UNO more powerful some less powerful some have different features like WiFi or ethernet but the UNO is a pretty standard you know kind of board and they’re all going to work in the same way.  So hopefully yeah, you’ve got a bit more of an idea of the differences, some contrasts and comparisons between them. So go ahead,  get started with your project, pick a great platform you won’t be let down by either one of them, they’re fantastic and it really is up to you.  So hopefully I’ll see you next time guys, enjoy your projects, thanks for watching :-)