The differences between Raspberry Pi and Arduino

Whether down to their growing use in school projects or increasing popularity among tech enthusiasts, devices like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino are developing a great reputation.

Both small but mighty, they can be used as building blocks for all manner of computing and programming projects – be it functional or just plain fun.

While sharing similarities, they are in fact quite different, so let’s have a look at each one.

What is the Raspberry Pi?

Since 2012, Raspberry Pi has released a series of microcomputers aimed at teaching computer science in schools.

It’s estimated that over 40 million models have been sold across the world in that near decade of operation, with 14 models developed. Some add greater complexity, while others, such as the Raspberry Pico, are stripped down for maximum efficiency.

As the Pi is a microcomputer it can run operating systems and has a microprocessor, capable of running numerous programs at once.

What is the Arduino?

The Arduino is available to buy as a microcontroller or in kits that will help users undertake different projects.

This board was first developed in Italy in the mid-2000s as a tool to help design students build systems that could interact with their environment.

The microcontroller works by having inputs and sensors attached to it. Once a program is coded for the controller, it can alter its outputs depending on what is desired. It does not work as a computer in the same sense as the Raspberry Pi.

What can they be used for?

Hooked up to the right kit, a Raspberry Pi could even replace your personal computer or laptop. Newer models are capable of playing HD-quality video and can connect to internet apps.

An Arduino is ideal for if/then programs, controlling an output as an input is measured. Basic examples include switching a light on if a motion sensor is activated or opening a greenhouse window once humidity reaches a certain level.

The Pi can be used to run multiple functions at once. For example, if you wanted a humidity sensor to activate the vents in a greenhouse, it could also allow to chart what times of day that humidity reached high levels and potentially produce reports that could be emailed to the relevant people.

Should I get Raspberry Pi or Arduino?

The answer is pretty simple – it depends entirely on what you need it for!

If you’re looking for a simple DIY computing program that involves a single process, then the Arduino is perfect. It’s small, cheap and easy to use with a simple coding language underpinning it.

For more complex tasks, or for entertainment uses, this is where the Pi comes into its own.