Exploring Arduino's and Raspberry Pi's

31 July 2017

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Technical Demo Blog - by Hamish Kingsbury

Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s are key components in any home electronics hobbyists arsenal (Not that the Raspberry Pi was built for hobbyists in the first place). The expandable and diverse nature of these two devices allows for an almost unlimited combination of projects and tools to be developed. I only scratch the surface in what is possible with these devices – I simply tinker. I have the necessary tools and components – breadboards, resistors, LEDs, sensors and jumpers; and am slowly developing the skills and knowledge necessary to play with these devices (Only fried one Arduino so far – the soldering iron slipped)

With the rise of IOT (the Internet of Things) I can see these small, customisable devices becoming more and more relevant. Stepping out of the hobbyist’s sphere and into commercial industry. The vast array of sensors you can couple with these (low powered) devices is simply amazing. GPS chips, WiFi/Ethernet/Bluetooth (inbuilt on many them), Cell Modules, SD Card readers – the list goes on. Do you need to monitoring temperatures across an area, or record sunlight hours? Spending a few $100 will get you 10s of Arduinos spec’d to do just this. Yes there are limitations to using devices like these, you need to develop the code, supply you own support and be prepared to do lots of trial and error. However isn’t that just half the fun?

Moving up from the ‘single’ purpose Arduinos, we have Raspberry Pi’s and other single board ‘computers’ (Banana Pi, BeagleBoard and CHIP to name a few). These devices run an Operation System usually based on some form of Linux (Windows has an OS for some of them too). With these more powerful devices you can do more complex tasks and Edge Computing. Why record thousands of data points and send them all back to a central machine for processing when you can only send through the processed data? Of course, there are instances where you want to keep the raw data, but you get the idea.

I bought some Arduinos into Interpret last week to demo them – there were very simple demos. The response from most people was to the tune of ‘What are these? But man, they are cool’. As IOT grows, and companies such as Vodafone and Spark develop networks to link these Devices, I am excitedly waiting to see what is in store for this small but growing stream of tech.