Arduino vs Pi


I am new to electronics and would like to know.

What should I start out with???


arf, I ran out of popcorn!

More seriously, they are very different beasts and are good at different things. So it all depends on what projects you are likely to want to get your teeth into.

What Arduino is unarguably best at is real-time applications. It will also out of the box provide analog channels and multiple PWM channels.

The Raspberry Pi on the other hand runs a full OS and the sky is the limit so to speak, when it comes to solutions to a problem.

My advice is to experiment with both if you are interested enough to learn how they compare, their strength and weaknesses… both are quite fascinating in their own right!


My road to electronics was through the Pi. The Arduino always interested me, but the whole thing never really clicked until I played with a Pi and then the maker in me who’d been trained on LEGO Mindstorms, building PCs and disassembling anything he could get his hands on exploded out like a Phoenix from the flames… fortunately not the flames of a Pi I’d managed to blow up because I didn’t blow any Pi’s up until much later. I feel I’m just waffling now but I have a new keyboard and I’m enjoying typing on it.


Also, Arduino and Pi work extremely well together since they both have their own strengths and weaknesses, as @RogueM mentions. The Arduino is a good “do one thing and do it well for 100 years” platform which fires up immediately and works like a soldier, while the Pi is a very flexible “explore all the things” platform where you can tinker with much more approachable languages like Python, BASIC, build your own webserver and a dozen much less technical things you can (retro gaming, media center) do if you get frustrated with trying to learn (we all need to unwind sometimes!).


I give this talk every now and then at my Makerspace.

I start off with a demo, my Arduino is connected to an LED matrix, my Raspberry Pi to a scroll pHAT.

I plug the Arduino in and it immediately starts scrolling a message. I plug the Raspberry Pi in and it takes about 30 seconds to a minute to start scrolling the same message.

This is where the Arduino is really strong, give it a task to do and it does it instantly and capably. The Raspberry Pi is a bit overkill for just displaying a static message, especially if you’re running an OS in the background. But where the Pi shines (especially the 3) is the connectivity. After it’s displayed the static message, the Pi starts to display tweets with a certain hashtag. This is impossible to do out of the box with an Arduino, without connecting it up to a PC.

Other strengths of the Pi? Processing power, I’ve had mine doing image recognition (with the Raspberry Pi camera) and FFT audio processing.

But there are times when I need to use 5V logic and the Arduino wins out there.

Sorry if that was a bit rambling, just looking at what’s on my desk at the moment. Much like Phil I started with Mindstorms as a kid, but moved to Arduino to do tinkering with electronics. The Pi though opened up an entire new world!


Which ever you get from the electronics point of view it would in my opinion be worthwhile investing in a breadboard, with jumpers, psu and play with that. you can then experiment with different circuits without having to do any soldering. - something I wish had been available when I started out.
Pi with a project kit or Arduino with similar is going to be a good way to start.
The other thing I can thoroughly recommend is getting copies of the pinouts of the modules so you don’t accidently blow anything up.
I have unfortunately forgotten more electronics theory than I can remember. My first electronics kit was a ZX81 computer and have since gone on to train as a RF service engineer building Ham Radio stuff for microwave bands since.

The final choice is down to you but keep us all in the loop if you get stuck.


I think the PI Zero has been a bit of a game changer for both the Pi & Arduino landscape.

I look at Arduino now for relatively small scale isolated projects, in fact prob wouldn’t go the Arduino route now.

My next project is going to be a rover which will use a Pi3 for the brains and has a zero running some realtime stuff.
Using the OTG ethernet gadget mode of the zero means I can do distributed processing and partition off embedded realtime and complex machine learning.
It all sounds really complex but with the libs available from the Linux universe its actually pretty simple and also part of a existing infrastructure.

Depends what happens with the zero (1 per customer & continuation) but I don’t think I would touch Arduino now. For me it makes little sense to learn at this stage.
The Pi3 is now extensible via Pi Zero’s and getting them to communicate is relatively child’s play over tcp/ip.
Someone somewhere is probably going to create a Pi PicHat where a couple of Pics can be programmed directly via a PI and greatly extend GPIO in a further distributed processing mode.