Arduino Vs. Raspberry Pi: Which One do You Need?

Having mastered the art of connectivity through advanced and potent technologies like IoT, we are all set to reach the next level of mechanization. Motors, lights, cameras, and equipment can link up on their own to make operations as seamless as possible. While these achievements only add up to our advancement, their foundation is laid by objects as small as microcontroller boards.

These small boards resemble a circuit and can run software and hardware programs and can process data faster than humans. Two of the most favored boards by engineers, professionals, and students are Arduinos and Raspberry Pi.

Comparing these two can be an arduous task as there is a very thin line of difference between them. To help you align your selection and requirement, here we bring you an exhaustive comparison between Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

A Look at Both Raspberry Pi and Arduino

Raspberry Pi: Manufactured by Britain's Raspberry pi foundation, this is a full-blown minuscule computer that comes with a 64-bit microprocessor and has a graphic card that supports HDMI output. It also has separate ports for USB and audio output. Raspberry pi can run a specialized operating system variant of Linux called Raspbian while giving you enough room to install others such as android and windows 10. You can access Wifi connectivity and transfer files through the FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

Unlike normal computers, Raspberry Pi does not offer internal storage. But you do have the option to leverage external SD cards to store operating systems and other purposes like installing updates. 

Arduino: Arduino falls under the category of microcontrollers, primarily used to bond with sensors and devices so that you can control them through inputs. It differentiates from a computer because it does not support an operating system. Instead, it accepts and infers different codes as per the firmware. In addition to fostering hardware connectivity, Arduino also provides a cost-benefit as compared to its counterparts. Its price range starts from $10 to $200 depending on the variant. 

Difference in Networking

For ease of network connectivity, Raspberry Pi comes with an inbuilt Ethernet port. It also supports wireless connections. This easy connection allows you to perform common operations such as internet posting, HTML operations in a hassle-free manner. To make it operationally ready, Raspberry Pi has been preinstalled with 4 USB ports, an audio port, and a few other ports.

With Arduino, it's a different ball game altogether. These devices do not come with preinstalled connection ports. To build a secure connection, you will be required to arrange an external Ethernet port along with some associated coding.

Nowadays, to add more features to Arduinos and Raspberry Pi, additional devices like Shields and HATs (Hardware Attached on Top) are being leveraged respectively. Some prominent examples are:

  1. To control an RGB matrix through Raspberry Pi 3.

  2. To add a touchscreen in Raspberry Pi 3.

  3. To create an Arcade System through Raspberry Pi 3.

  4. To add a Relay Shield in Arduino Uno.

  5. To add a Bluetooth Shield in Arduino Uno.

  6. To add USB and Camera Ports in Arduino Uno(through Shields).

  7. To add HDMI ports to Arduino Uno (through Shields).

Access to Sensors

When it comes to having access to sensors, Arduino has to be your principal choice. It facilitates easier time interfacing with sensors, motors, and related hardware components. All you are required to do to deal with is the coding of sensors by executing them through your Arduino.

To connect sensors using a Raspberry Pi, you will have to equip it with the necessary software and libraries. 

Given the specific characteristics of both Arduino and Raspberry Pi, it is also possible to use them in conjunction with each other. You can use your Raspberry Pi to issue commands to the Arduino. The Arduino will then function as an action-controller, executing the commands so issued. 

The difference in Power Requirements

Power requirements in both the systems depend largely on the variant and model that you chose for your project. Let's take the case of Raspberry Pi 3, Model B which is a student variant. This has a power requirement of 1.5W when not in use but uses up to 6.7W when connected to peripherals. Similarly, the Raspberry Pi Zero variant has a power requirement of 0.5W to 1.75W.

Also, Raspberry Pi models require a potential of 5V from the power source in most cases. 

On the other hand, Arduinos are simple devices that work on the concept of plug and play. To turn your Arduino on or off, connect and disconnect the plugs, respectively, to the pins provided in the Arduino board. An Arduino is quite easy to charge with battery packs as against its counterpart. This makes Arduino suitable for battery oriented projects.

It is also important to note that both these devices can also enhance their efficiency by lowering their energy requirements. For example, you can switch off the display of your Raspberry Pi board by disabling the HDMI ports. 

Effects of Power-cuts: Raspberry Pi uses an operating system and is therefore required to be properly shut down. This is important as abrupt closure may result in corrupted files and software complications. Thus, power cuts must be avoided in the case of Raspberry Pi. You would never want to face the messy repercussions of a power cut while working on a task as important as a memory location. 

Since Arduino has nothing to do with an operating system, power cuts are not that big a problem. It will simply pick up coding from where it had left before the closure. However, to ensure that your Arduino remains in power, look for a 5V battery and corresponding pins.

Difference in Usage

Raspberry Pi is an ideal choice to deal with large volumes of data and. The reason being its wide array of computational resources. It is best suited to make software-centric projects. A few examples include a bar chart whose contents are sporadically changing, Various projects involving an intermix of complex calculations, and video graphics components. 

Arduino is called in action for simpler data needs and mainly for hardware applications. Some examples include connecting lights with television, sending an email after a particular sensor activity. However, you can enhance the performance of Arduino by connecting additional multiplexers and LED drivers through properly managed pins.

What's Better?

The answer to this question largely depends on the purpose. Both devices can be said to have a common purpose i.e. to help you build advanced solutions and projects. But the way they help you in the said purpose varies. If you require more data processing along with greater software control, Raspberry Pi is a perfect choice. In case your project is more inclined towards hardware, choose Arduino. 

Make a conscious decision based on the comparison and choose the right board for your project today.

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