Arduino or Raspberry Pi: Which is best for beginners?

Arduino or Raspberry Pi: Which is best for beginners?

Arduino or Raspberry Pi?
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Opensource.com. Modified. CC BY-SA 4.0. Original images from Adafruit and Wikipedia.

So you want to get started with hobbyist electronics? The world is rich with options, two of the most prominent being the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino. But which one makes sense for you?

As we continue our celebration of open source and hardware this week on Opensource.com, many of our readers may be inspired to get started. To help you make your decision, we look back at this great summary from Opensource.com contributor Ruth Suehle, which posed some important questions you should ask yourself which may help you make your decision:

  • Is this for a child? Consider not only that child's age, experience, and patience, but also your own. How much time are you willing to spend working with the child on the projects?
  • Are there parts you'll need that are easier to obtain for one than the other? There's a vast Arduino community that has created shields (add-on parts that perform specific roles) for just about anything you can imagine. The Raspberry Pi community is large and growing, but you may find is easier to find particular parts for a given project for one than the other.
  • Do you need or want any/all the built-in goodness of a Raspberry Pi, like HDMI and USB ports?
  • What's your final goal? Are you hoping to learn programming? Do you want to play with a device for a while and then repurpose it? (The Arduino is good at doing one thing at a time, but not so good at multiple functions if you decide you want to move on to a more complicated project without buying a new board.)

Whichever you decide, we hope you'll make use of the vast quantity of open source guides, tutorials, and code samples out there to build something unique awesome. And once you do, be sure to share your story with us here on Opensource.com!

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27 Comments

Flatmax
In my opinion, having an operating system and a user interface makes it easier to do lots of fun stuff. For that reason, I imagnie the Rasberry Pi. Sound card for the Raspberry Pi : http://www.audioinjector.net/#!/rpi-hat Provides high quality input and output audio. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1250664710/audio-injector-sound-card-for-the-raspberry-pi
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madtom1999
You can get a guitar-link USB connector for less than £5 on ebay - will drive headphones at CD quality and allow guitar/mike input and easy to move to another machine.
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Anonymous
Espruino
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bmaynard
The Pi started this revolution. I don't think that they expected it to take off like it did but others have followed their lead. The community for the Pi is much greater but Arduino is catching up.
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proffalken
The Arduino was created in 2008, the Pi released in 2012, so Arduino have been ahead of the curve for some years, even if they're not as well known in most circles. :)
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bmaynard
I wasn't implying who was first made. The fact that the Pi is "well known in most circles" as you put it, is what I am implying. Arduino was made first but the Pi, in my opinion, started this revolution of inexpensive SBC that could be made from a basic computer to a home automation hub without too much trouble.
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Christian
I think it should be a combination of both. The Pi has the advantage that you can pretty much instantly have a computer-like experience by powering it up and connecting it to some TV or monitor. From there on, it is pretty easy to start in any direction, as far as simple programming and electronic circuits go. Being able to run a full desktop environment and being cheap, it is also possible to give a child access to its very own "PC" without spending too much money in case it breaks. The greatest disadvantages i see in the Pi are lacking hardware PWM and its power consumption. Try setting up a remote weather station running merely on batteries, for example. Nearly impossible, at least very impractical, on a Pi while there are some Arduino-based weather stations that last virtually ages powered by a set of rechargeable AA batteries.
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sethkenlon
I've had equal success with both the Pi and Arduino. I chose the Pi only because it is a little more flexible in what it can do. . The Arduino is only fun provided that you also have outboard components (LEDs, motors, sensors). Otherwise, you can make it flash its power light and that's about all you can do with it. . The Pi, as other comments reflect, is more or less a one-stop shop; if you haven't got a breadboard and components, you can do lots of cool things in software. And if you DO have electronics components, you can use many of those, too, just as you would on an Arduino. . But there's definitely something REALLY satisfying about sitting down with an Arduino, hoking up a panpot, stringing out 100 addressable LEDs and making them blink and swirl as you tweak dials. People love that experience. . If there'd been a "Yes" option on the survey, that would have been my choice.
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sindexa
There is no comparison between the Arduino and Raspberry pi according to this article .Even they are somewhat similar in design,but the information about the arduino is so little that makes it so difficult for the users to make the decision.such as the price, the hardware,the software,compatibility ,peripherals ,developing potential and some other important items.It is impossible for us to judge the better by only a photo(the design. As l stated recently , the attractions of the pi lies in four aspects,or four advantages:The free choice of selecting a OS and peripherals ,the credit card size and elegant design ,the low cost and great developing potentiality are the four reasons that make the pi so outstanding .Abiding by these principles ,the pi will serve and benefit more users,of course ,go even further.The more choice and opportunity the pi give to the users ,the more attractive the pi is ,and then the further the pi can go . That is to say ,we not only esteem the quality of the pi but also the principle . At the same time ,Share the same principles above mentioned as the pi ,we ipazpport ,as a pi oriented mini keyboard manufacturer ,all the time ,is one of the witnesses and participants .
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slu
I have gone with RPi because of the familiar linux OS. Bash and Python scripts are quick and easy. I havethree RPis doing various IoT type functions. A neighbor with time sensitive applications uses Arduino. I am currently using an RPi3 with its root on a USB SSD for this message. For a web appliance, it is perfectly adequate.
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VM
These two are not comparable, two totaly different architectures. the only connection is their size and price. Arduino is better for pure electronics since it has analogue ports, and it is easier to deal with its sw. On the other side, RasPi is better for doing system programming, or even for electronics, but only basic like making simple home-made connected smart devices (IoT).
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Meloku
Do you want a Vespa moped or a Corvette? You wouldn't bring your Vespa to the racing strip, and using your Corvette to buy groceries is an obscene display of wasted resources. Arduino and Raspberry Pi are two completely different pieces of hardware for completely different goals. Want real-time control over critical systems? Go with Arduino, which is at the heart of the drone and 3D printing revolutions. Need the extra processing power? Raspberry Pi can show those corporate assholes that you don't need their expensive videogame consoles, Smart TVs, web servers and cloud computing, when you can easily make your own... ... And you know what's the best thing? If you want that expensive Domotics system with real-time control over sprinklers, lights, doors and whatnot, with that lovely web interfaces that can be controlled through your phone, but you don't have the money to burn on such an impressive system... BUY BOTH!!! Arduino + Raspberry Pi DIY domotics is one example of how both technologies can easily coexist and synergize!!!
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proffalken
The best way to think of it in my opinion is that the Arduino is like the Central Nervous System of the human body. It is capable of running autonomously and acting on inputs to control outputs, however, it work best when combined with a Brain to process the more complex messages. TheR-Pi can act incredibly well as that Brain and, coupled with some python code, can provide some excellent UI's and other ways to interact with the Arduino.
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Martin MkMerkin
The Pi was, and is, wonderful. So much press and a lot of easy stuff to do. Got me back to making silly gadgets and programming after a break of 36 years as a hobbyist. The Arduino looks good but until I got into the Pi I had never even heard of it. Pi seems simple to move on to with Linux experience although Python was a wake up. Used to use Basic and Assembler. I vote Pi but maybe only because I have never got into the other.
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trimchess
For me it was excellent to start with a Raspberry. I had some thing like a computer and a with the GPIO access I could start my first electronic experiences. After a while I expanded my lab with an Arduino. And an other while later I connect them together in my Weather Station: The Arduino handles all the sensor things and transmits the data to the Raspberry. They are stored there in a MongoDB collection. Now on the Raspberry I prepare the data for the internet with Temboo, Twilio, Grovestrams and my one home page. Summary: The Raspberry was a good starter, but for real electronics (sensor protocols e.g.) the Arduino is better becaus of the better timing possibilities.
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Jaroslaw Michalski
To be able to use Arduino you have to learn C and also some basics of electronics. RPi offers more flexibility (you can use python but also any other programming language) and ready to use operating system. For beginners Scratch might be a good option and a number of tools is provided for an easy start with RPi. Anyway I think it's good to learn how to use them both :)
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psachin
It depends. If the user is inclined towards C programming language + electronic, he should definitely go for Arduino. Arduino provide great understanding of microcontrollers. Raspberry-PI on the other hand is easy when interacting to hardware as it provides Python as an interfacing language. Raspberry-Pi is full fledged computer where as Arduino is a microcontroller. We can't compare them.
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LuckyPatcher
true Sachim.
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ThomR
For BEGINNERS, learning ELECTRONICS, Arduino is much simpler and closer to the hardware. The programming environment is simple to learn, and doesn't bring into play the complexity of linux development. RPi is great if you already know Linux and computer hardware, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone just learning electronics.
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gammay
Its not either/or question. Pi and Arduino are meant for different purposes and complement each other. For example, if I am building an IoT solution, I would use both. Auduino as sensor, Pi as gateway.
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Lester Nicholson
Tibbo Technology with it's Tibbo Project System would be great for hobbyists
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Matze_R
You do need both! Why? - the UnoR3 has a DIP Socket CPU which can be replaced in case you "blow" a Port" - the RasPi comes in a "do not repair" fashion - the Uno does have more I/O capabilities like AD, real PWM generators and much more I/O supported by on chip components - the RasPi is much faster - the Arduino is great at runnning C++ and Assember code (great IDE) - the Raspi offers modern languages like Pearl or even better Python for easy coding So they do team up great since a RasPi can be the "master brain" of the I/O Adruino!
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Norse Engineering
Why must we compare the two? People keep asking, which is better? Neither. You might as well compare a Ford F150 to a submarine. They can sometimes do similar things, but in reality they are meant for two very different classes of tasks. You asked which is better to learn? Choose the one that teaches what you need to learn. You wouldn't pick a submarine to drive to your job in New Mexico. You wouldn't choose a Ford F150 to drive from Florida to Hawaii. Choose the one suited to your situation.
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pixster
Raspberry Pi - Hands-Down!! Although the Arduino is great for controlling hardware, and it's fast-- The Raspberry Pi will do Hardware Control; and bring a young mind into learning the Linux OS at the same time. Let's face it. WINDOZ is on its way out!
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revelator
The udoo neo is great. It features an imx6 and an Arduino, so it's like of a combination of both. See udoo.org/udoo-neo
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Badger Badger
Dumb question, it is like asking is oranges or apples better. If you only want to learn electronics and are not interested in learning linux, it is arduino. If you want to learn linux and electronics RPi is your choice. If you already know linux and want the additional control an O/S adds RPi is your choice
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Raymond Church
Photon.
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