On our most recent IoT Podcast episode, Brent called in and left us a great message. He and his teenage son have done some small projects using a low-cost Arduino circuit board but are wondering if there are other boards out there to use, and what you can do with them.
For starters, the Arduino is a great little board. You can get one for under $10, but it’s a bit limited. By limited, I mean the processor clock cycle speed is well below that of today’s traditional computers.
I just bought a “high-end” Ardunio Mega 2560 for $38.50 and it has a 16MHz clock — about the same in the computer I bought in the early 1990’s – and 256KB of flash memory.
I’m using it currently to learn assembly language programming in a Computer Architecture class at my local community college. And for that purpose, and other small projects, the Arduino is great. I’ve seen some amazing demos of the Arduino controlling an Etch-a-Sketch and reading input from sensors, for example.
However, a Raspberry Pi for roughly the same price as my Arduino, is more like a traditional computer. Plus, it removes many of the limitations found in the Arduino world. My Raspberry Pi 3 has a 1.4 GHz CPU, as much memory as I can find on a microSD card, and both integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios, not to mention HDMI out for a monitor.
Indeed, with my Raspberry Pi, I developed our IoT Voicemail in Python and also hosted it on the Pi for some time. The Pi was also central to a CompSci project that I, along with some classmates, implemented to wirelessly gather real-time glucose levels for diabetics and use an algorithm to adjust insulin delivery. Thanks to its web connectivity, I also used a Pi to turn a colored light bulb red or green based on the current prices of cryptocurrency.
You really can’t go wrong with either an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi, however. Both are inexpensive, have many accessories and add-on boards available and are great for learning. Plus, there is a large community of people building projects on both Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards that can help troubleshoot on forums or Github . Stacey also recommends hitting the SparkFun Electronics site for other computing boards, as well as projects to tackle.
To hear Brent’s question in full, as well as our discussion, tune in below to the IoT Podcast: