Internet of Things (IoT) Series - Tiny Computers (Raspberry Pi And Arduino)

Introduction

This is 3 part of the series on the Internet of Things. In this series of blogs, we discussed what IoT is and how to make things communicate. Now, in the last article, I will explain about the tiny computers which help things to communicate.

We would discuss about the tiny computers, Raspberry Pi and Arduino, which are capable of connecting to the sensors (things/gadgets are attached to sensors) and process the information that is provided by these things.

Let’s start with Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer (size of a credit card) designed and developed in the UK. This tiny computer enables everyone (big or small) to learn physical computing, explore basic electronics, and learn how to program (programming). The main reason behind developing Raspberry Pi was to teach children about physical computing and make them understand how computers work.
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The Raspberry Pi is a single board that has a processor SOC (System on Chip) made by ARM, similar to the processors found on mobile phone. This ARM processor is fast and light-weight. This tiny computer does not have its own Hard Disk, keyboard, mouse, or monitor.

As it does not have its own Hard Disk, you would be using an SD card to install the OS (Operating System). The benefit of using SD card is that you can easily swap this computer (Pi) with SD cards having different OS (Mac, Windows or different versions of Linux).

This tiny credit-card size computer is capable of running a full Operating System and can do everything that you can do with a regular PC. You can play music, browse the internet, write programs by using languages like Scratch, Python, or C# (Linux, Mac or Windows – recommended OS – Raspbian (a version of Linux ).

Another best and important feature of Raspberry Pi is that it has a bunch of GPIO ping that are open / exposed, so that we can use it to build circuits using sensors. The GPIO pins are easy to configure and control. You can write program to read the sensor data coming from the GPIO pins and send back the data to the GPIOs pins after processing.

Let talk about Arduino

It’s a micro-controller based computer and comes as a DIY kit that allows for easy prototyping. It’s not a computer (like Raspberry Pi). It is commonly used as a micro-controller DIY (Do It Yourself) kit. The latest model is the ARDUINO UNO.

Arduino

Features

Unlike Raspberry Pi, it has only one USB interface to connect directly to the computer. No external power is required to connect Arduino.

Arduino comes with its own IDE, which can be used to write programs using high level languages like C, C#. Once written, these programs can be sent to the Arduino micro-controller. (You need to connect the Arduino to the computer using USB interface to copy the program that you want to execute).

Arduino also has GPIO pins on both sides of the Arduino board. These pins are used to connect to the sensors and actuators. (Note: These pins are both digital and analog – more in the next article).

One additional feature about Arduino is that it has the ability to use additional boards (known as Shields) on the Arduino board. Shields are plug and play add-on modules, e.g. GPS, wireless functionality ready build for you, so that you can use it without actually having to build it from scratch.

This completes the IoT series. Starting fromthe  next article, we will be talking about Raspberry Pi in detail.

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