Have you been inspired to build your own smartphone or perhaps build your own Iron Man suit? Well if you have, you’ve no doubt been considering whether to buy yourself a Raspberry Pi or Arduino. Although very similar in size and price, there are some pretty fundamental differences, which you’d be wise to take into consideration when deciding on what is right for you.

DIY Hacking? Should You Choose Raspberry Pi Or Arduino?

Both the Raspberry Pi and Arduino were designed to be teaching tools and easy to learn how to use, which is why they have become so popular. Raspberry Pi was designed and created by Eben Upton and his colleagues from the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory. Few students were entering the program and those that were, weren’t achieving good results, so Upton came up with a plan to create a cheap, hackable computer for improving skills. The Arduino on the other hand was developed by the Italian Massimo Banzi, who wanted a simple hardware prototyping tool for design students.

This table gives you a quick comparison of the two devices’ features:

  Arduino Uno Raspberry Pi Model B
Memory 0.002 MB 512 MB
Clock Speed 16 MHz 700 MHz
Multitasking No Yes
On Board Network None 10/100 wired
Operating System None Linux Distro
Flash 32KB SD card (2-16 G)
Integrated Development Environment Arduino Anything Linux

You can see from the stats that Raspberry Pi is so much faster than Arduino, allowing it to function as a personal computer, though don’t expect it to be anything like your Mac or PC. Yet despite this Arduino has its own merits. The IDE is far easier to use and because it’s not been designed to be run on an operating system or use lots of software, you simply plug it in and off you go. If you are a beginner, Arduino is perfect because it is far simpler to use, it is hard to break and there are more learning resources out there for beginners. It will work on any computer and can be safely turned on or off at any time.

However, with Raspberry Pi you would need to learn at least the basics of using Linux before you even started learning how to program using the device. It can also be damaged if you don’t shut it down properly.

Saying that, it doesn’t mean you have to choose between the two – there is plenty of help out there to get you started using the two of them together. Author Simon Monk has written books on both devices and has given tutorials on how to get a Pi to talk to Arduino using only a few lines of code. From here the possibilities are endless – you could create a platform for making a more capable robot, or even the Iron Man Suit!

[Image via Raspberrypi]