The Raspberry Pi and Arduino are designed to be easy-to-use platforms for DIY electronics projects, but there are a few key differences between the boards.
The Raspberry Pi is a fully-fledged mini-computer with an operating system and almost unlimited functionality, while the Arduino is a microcontroller and provides a small amount of specialised computing power – mainly for interfacing with hardware.
Both devices can connect to and control other hardware with some scripting and soldering, but the Arduino can do so without the overhead of running an OS and other software.
Each device has advantages, and choosing which one to use will depend on your project.
Power and Performance
The Raspberry Pi features impressive specifications for its size, including a 1.2GHz CPU and up to 1GB of LPDDR2 SDRAM.
The relatively high performance of the Pi means it draws more power, requiring a voltage of 5V.
The Arduino draws comparably little power and can use a small battery.
Taking into account the performance and power draw differences, the Arduino is a better option for small, portable projects, while the Pi is useful for complex projects with software components.
The Arduino is also a favourite for hardware-focussed projects due to its more direct interface, while the Pi is commonly used when software integration or computing is required.
Arduino – Details
Arduino boards are microcontrollers which focus on interfacing with things like LEDs, sensors, and motors.
Due to its lack of a standard computing platform, it is notably less expensive than the Raspberry Pi – around R285.
There are also many different boards which are compatible with the Arduino ecosystem, which means Arduino users can find cheap, compatible add-on boards for their project.
Arduino boards connect to each other and other hardware using I/O pins on the board itself.
These can be controlled using scripts loaded onto the Arduino, and the board can also connect to other devices using a USB adapter.
Arduino boards are useful devices for beginners and experts, as they are relatively simple to set up, but can also be used for advanced projects such as remote-controlled robots.
Raspberry Pi – Details
The Raspberry Pi is the Arduino’s more powerful, software-oriented relative.
Thanks to its wide selection of operating systems and small size, the Pi has found almost endless uses among DIY enthusiasts.
There are not as many compatible boards for the Pi as for the Arduino, although this is not limiting, as the Pi includes built-in features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and HDMI connectivity.
Thanks to its open software platform and cheap price, the Pi has been used in countless projects and can function as a portable computing device.
Projects and Compatibility
The type of projects you are interested in will determine which board you purchase, although they can be used together in many cases.
Large projects, such as home automation controlled by a virtual assistant, could require many microcontroller boards and a Raspberry Pi to translate commands into hardware functions.
While the Arduino and Raspberry Pi are different, users are not forced to choose between the two boards.
Instead, they can complement each other and can be used in conjunction to create ambitious projects.