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The Monday Jolt

The Monday Jolt is a new column about microcontrollers and electronics that appears in MAKE every Monday morning. This post was written by Roger Meike and appeared on the Digital Diner on October 24, 2012. It is reposted here on the MAKE site with permission.

Left to right: Arduino Uno, BeagleBone, Raspberry Pi

Left to right: Arduino Uno, BeagleBone, Raspberry Pi

We like to build stuff here at Digital Diner. There is always some sort of project going on. These days, most of our projects include some sort of digital component – a microprocessor. If you haven’t gotten bitten by the Maker bug yet, we strongly encourage it. It can be incredibly rewarding. If you have even a minimal understanding of programming, there are websites, platforms and tools to help you develop your skills to the point where you actually create a hardware device with buttons, knobs and servos – a real physical world gadget. Software is fun, but when you can make your project physical it is even better.

There are so many great platforms for creating digitally enabled devices that its gotten hard to figure out which one to use. For example, we are currently building a hydroponic garden project and had to choose a controller to run the pumps, read the sensors etc. We were surprised at the number of choices that were available to us. It can be a little confusing for the beginner. To help, we’ve taken three of the popular models and compared them so that you can choose the right tool for your next project. Spoiler: we recommend all three.

The three models (all of which we use here at Digital Diner) are the Arduino, Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone. We chose these three because they are all readily available, affordable, about the same size (just larger than 2″ x 3″) and can all be used for creating wonderful digital gadgets. Before we get to the comparison, here is a brief introduction to each one.

The Arduino Uno

The Arduino Uno is a staple for the maker community.  Arduinos come in various sizes and flavors, but we chose the Arduino Uno as an example of the prototypical Arduino.  It has an easy to use development environment, an avid user base and is designed to be easy to interface all sorts of hardware to.

The Raspbery Pi

The Raspberry Pi is the newcomer to the game.  It isn’t really an embedded computer.  It is actually a very inexpensive full-on desktop computer.  It is barebones, but at $35 for a real computer, its worthy of note, and it is a great platform for lots of Maker projects.

BeagleBone

The BeagleBone is the perhaps the least known of these platforms, but an incredibly capable board worthy of consideration for many projects.  It is a powerful Linux computer that fits inside an Altoid’s mint container.

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All three boards features that make them valuable to the hobbyist.  Below is a chart I put together outlining the features of the three for comparison.  If you aren’t familiar with what all these mean, that is fine.  However, there are a few differences that make each of these gadgets shine in their own types of applications.

Comparing the three platforms.

Comparing the three platforms.

First, the Arduino and Raspberry Pi and very inexpensive at under $40. The BeagleBone comes in at nearly the cost of three Arduino Unos. Also worthy of note is that the clock speed on the Arduino is about 40 times slower than the other two and it has 128,000 (!) times less RAM. Already, you can see the differences starting to come out. The Arduino and Raspberry Pi are inexpensive and the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone are much more powerful. Seems like the Raspberry Pi is looking really good at this point, however, it’s never that simple. First, its price isn’t quite as good as it seems because to run the Raspberry Pi you need to supply your own SD Card which will run you another $5-10 in cost.

Also, despite the clock speed similarities, in our tests the BeagleBone ran about twice as fast as the Raspberry Pi. And perhaps most counterintuitive, the Arduino was right in the mix as far as performance goes as well, at least for a beginner. The reason for this is that the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone both run the Linux operating system. This fancy software makes these systems into tiny computers which are capable of running multiple programs at the same time and being programmed in many different languages. The Arduino is very simple in design. It can run one program at a time and it programmed in low level C++.

MicroSD and SD Cards

An interesting feature of the BeagleBone and the Raspberry Pi is that they run off of a flash memory card (SD Card in the case of Raspberry Pi and MicroSD Card in the case of BeagleBone). What this means is that you can give these boards a brain transplant just by swapping the memory card. You can have multiple configurations and setups on different cards and when you swap cards, you’ll be right where you left off with that particular project. Since both of these boards are fairly sophisticated, it even means that you can easily change operating systems just by creating different cards to swap in.

Choosing a Platform

So why would you choose one platform over the other?

For the beginner, we recommend the Arduino. It has the largest community of users, the most tutorials and sample projects and is simplest to interface to external hardware. There are more ways to learn about Arduino for beginners than you can shake a soldering iron at.

The boards are designed to easily interface with a wide variety of sensors and effectors without and external circuitry, so you don’t need to know much about electronics at all to get started. If you haven’t played with these before, get one (they’re inexpensive) and try it. It can be a really great experience.

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For applications minimizing size we recommend the Arduino. All three devices are similar in size, although the Raspberry Pi SD Memory card sticks out a bit making it slightly larger overall.  There are so many different flavors of Arduinos it is ridiculous.  Basically, what makes an Arduino an Arduino is a particular microprocessor and a little bit of software.  It uses a very small, inexpensive, embedded system on a chip microprocessor from a company named Atmel.  For advanced projects that need to be really small, you can buy these chips for a dollar or two and put the Arduino bootloader (a program that makes the Arduino give the Arduino its basic functions) on the chip and viola, you have an Arduino.  We have done this for a few projects and it can make for a very tiny little gadget when you don’t even have a circuit board.

A variety of different Arduino sizes and form factors

A variety of different Arduino sizes and form factors

The BeagleBone beside its big brother the BeagleBoard

The BeagleBone beside its big brother the BeagleBoard

The BeagleBoard has a larger and more powerful big brother, the BeagleBoard, so if you may need to scale up, the BeagleBone is a good choice.

The Arduino Uno, BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi Note the Ethernet ports on the BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi

The Arduino Uno, BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi
Note the Ethernet ports on the BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi

For applications that connect to the internet we recommend the BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi. Both these devices are real linux computers. They both include Ethernet interfaces and USB, so you can connect them to the network relatively painlessly. Via USB, you can connect them to wireless modules that let then connect to the internet without wires. Also, the Linux operating system has many components built-in that provide rather advanced networking capabilities.

A very small USB WiFi adapter plugs right in to the BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi ,  and the Linux operating system can support these types of devices

A very small USB WiFi adapter plugs right in to the BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi, and the Linux operating system can support these types of devices

The Arduino supports plug-in peripherals called “shields” that include the ability to connect to Ethernet, but the access to the networking functions is fairly limited. Plus by the time you buy the Ethernet shield you might as well just get one of the more advanced boards.

For applications that interface to external sensors we recommend the Arduino and the BeagleBone. The Arduino makes it the easiest of any of the boards to interface to external sensors. There are different versions of the board that operate at different voltages (3.3v vs 5v) to make it easier to connect to external devices. The BeagleBone only operates with 3.3v devices and will require a resistor or other external circuitry to interface to some devices. Both the Arduino and BeagleBone have analog to digital interfaces that let you easily connect components that output varying voltages. The BeagleBone has slightly higher resolution analog to digital converters which can be useful for more demanding applications.

With that said, it is important note that many things that you would want to connect to, including little sensors, have digital interfaces called I2C or SPI. All three boards support these types of devices and can talk to them fairly easily.

For battery powered applications, we recommend the Arduino.  The Arduino uses the least power of the bunch, although, in terms of computer power per watt, the BeagleBone is the clear winner.  However, the Arduino has an edge here since it can work with a wide range of input voltages.  This allows it to run from a variety of different types of batteries and keep working as the battery loses juice. The Arduino uses the least power of the bunch, although, in terms of computer power per watt, the BeagleBone is the clear winner.  However, the Arduino has an edge here since it can work with a wide range of input voltages.  This allows it to run from a variety of different types of batteries and keep working as the battery loses juice.

For applications that use a graphical user interface, we recommend the Raspberry Pi.  The Raspberry Pi is really in a category by itself because it has an HDMI output.   That means you can plug in a mouse and keyboard and connect it directly to your TV.  At that point you have a fully functional computer with graphical user interface.  This makes the Raspberry Pi ideal for use as a low cost web browsing device of for creating kiosk-type projects where you may have a display that people interact with.  In fact, just for fun, we installed the Arduino development tools on the Raspberry Pi and we were able to write a small program and download it to an Arduino from the Raspberry Pi.  It’s not a very fast computer, but it really is a computer.

Summary

The Arduino is a flexible platform with great ability to interface to most anything. It is a great platform to learn first and perfect for many smaller projects. The Raspberry Pi is good for projects that require a display or network connectivity. It has incredible price/performance capabilities.

The BeagleBone is a great combination of some of the interfacing flexibility of the Arduino with the fast processor and full Linux environment of the Raspberry Pi (more so in fact). So, for example, to monitor our hydroponic garden, we will likely use the BeagleBone since it has good input/output features and can easily connect to the network, so we can have it run a web server to make its readings available to us.

All three of these are staples of our projects here at Digital Diner. Of course, there are other platforms out there, for example, we monitor our tomato garden using Sun SPOTs, but these three will cover most people’s needs until you get fairly advanced.

Thanks to Roger Meike for allowing us to repost his comparison article here on the MAKE site.

Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker, tinkerer and co-founder of a startup working on fixing the Internet of Things. He spends much of his time probing current trends in an attempt to determine which technologies are going to define our future.


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Comments

  1. dwmurray57 says:

    Great article at the right time, I was in the process of selecting one of those boards but couldn’t decide which was the best one for me. Now I know :-)

    Thanks

  2. Constantine says:

    This article, although informative and packed with information, is a grammatical nightmare. Not only is it riddled with misused words and bad grammar (ex. then instead of them; very tiny little), it also states that the unit of power is Amperes and has many other little incorrect statements. I would like to consider the maker community as a fairly educated bunch, but this article has made my wonder.

    To be a little constructive with my criticism, I would like to point out that, even though the beagle board has the same clock speed as the RasPi, it can actually achieve twice the execution rate because of the newer cortex-A8. Remember clock speed isn’t everything.

    1. Steve says:

      “I would like to consider the maker community as a fairly educated bunch, but this article has made *my* wonder.”

      People in glass houses…

      1. taco says:

        They also repeat the ‘battery powered’ section, as if it were copied and pasted twice.

      2. That was probably a typo, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt

      3. briantw says:

        I’m siding with a little proofreading when you’re writing for a wide audience. It’s not that difficult. Especially when it’s a repost. So, the complainant made a typo. So could I, right here, doesn’t matter, I’m just a commenter; don’t try and equate commenters with people who publish. Great article, very informative, but Jeebus, take 10 minutes to proofread it.

    2. Stephen Dunn says:

      You come across very picky, here is a guy that has taken the time to compare these 3 great products and you jump down his throat, questioning intelligence. The grasp of the English language is not an accurate measure of intelligence. You sir have no class.

    3. Mat says:

      That individual who has written this the article could have chosen to not do so. I, for one, am VERY grateful that he did. It exactly answered what I was hoping for (and I’ve searched around and read quite a few comparative articles on this). Complaining about details probably risks making the author not contribute more rather than whatever it is you hope for.
      .
      A BIG THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE AND SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE SO GENEROUSLY. KEEP IT UP AMIGO!

      1. oscar says:

        I THINK THE SAME…
        THANKS…

  3. Doug Brown says:

    Outdated info on the Raspberry Pi Model B. It has 512MB of ram, 1 PWM pin.

    1. Tom says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think half of the 512K on the RPi are for video memory (at least in the default configuration).
      So the “256K” would be correct as long as one doesn’t change this partition scheme (is it possible?).
      But don’t rely on my comment, maybe I misunderstood something.

  4. Mark Kruse says:

    This article has one flaw I think. It’s comparing two completely different platforms to each other. You might as well compare apples and oranges and talk about the difference in taste and texture as if it matters. A linux micro computer (Raspberry Pi and Beagleboard) have a distinct purpose which is completely different from an Arduino. I can make a custom board with multiple ATMega chips all talking to each other and create my own device or invention. I can’t do that with the RP or BB. And on the flip side, I can’t make a full network device that can host files or stream movies on an Arduino like I can on a RP or BB. I see where the author intended for this to be taken, but I think they missed the expansiveness that each entails, and the shortfalls in comparison.

    1. lee says:

      I agree. Atmega328 requires some power, whatever peripherals you like and its up and running. the BCM2835 on the raspberry pi or the OMAP3530 on the beagle are pretty useless without dram, some sort of OS containing media, oscillators, power regulation and resistors galore, just to get the thing to blink a light. All of these are wonderful, but terribly different. Also where on earth did you find similar performance characteristics between the the ARMs and the atmega328? 32bit proc @ ~1ghz w/ 256MB memory compared to an 8bit proc @ 16mhz(on the arduino deum) and 32kb of memory…

    2. Mat says:

      Well, it is quite spot on FOR THE TARGET GROUP, ie someone like me who asks this very question.

    3. As a noob to the whole maker field, I am now further perplexed. I recently obtained an Arduino Uno, but have not undertaken learning the programming for an EEG project I wish to perform on it, as my reading finds that it may be ill suited to perform EEG analyses.
      Hearing about the Pi and how it is a full fledged computer, I was intrigued to investigate if it fared any better for my EEG project than my Arduino. Now reading this I get further confused on the whole matter.
      Can someone shed light on which platform would be most easily suited for a non-programming experienced person to start a project to record and analyze 1, single channel of EEG and perform an FFT on said data?
      Thanks.

      1. K Trout says:

        Claude, you should probably go with something more powerful than the Arduino. If I were you, I would look at the new BeagleBone Black – more powerful than a Raspberry Pi and only $45, with more GPIO and faster CPU. It’s unfortunate that this article came out about a week before the BeagleBone Black was introduced, but as has been amply noted, it’s not really a well thought out comparison anyway.

    4. There is nothing wrong with comparing apples to oranges if your target audience is someone with no experience with one or both. Consider: If you want a fruit that’s crunchy and sweet and has lots of fiber, choose an apple; If you want a fruit that’s soft and juicy, mixes sweetness with tartness, and has lots of vitamin C, choose an orange.

      This article points out exactly the differences Mark Krus described and it told me what I needed to know. I am considering a controller for a sophisticated home thermostat. After reading this article (and a similar article on makeuseof), I think the Arduino is a better choice for me owing to its lower power consumption and faster startup (no need to boot a full OS). I didn’t have a clue about these differences before reading these articles, just as a fruit buyer would have no clue about whether to get a apple or orange if he had never tried one.

    5. David says:

      Actually, I thought that was exactly the point he made in this article. In other words he drew attention to the very distinctions that you say are so important. You have to take in consideration that this article was written for people who don’t already have the intimate familiarity you do. In other words, it’s written for me, someone who has a vague idea of the distinctions but still has questions. It’s not written for someone like you, who already knows the differences. Don’t begrudge the author that he’s helping noobs like me catch up a little on your level of expertise.

  5. Sally says:

    The dumbed down journalism merely reflects the dumbing down of the mico-controller genre generally as more unskilled people get on board the genre.

    1. Steve says:

      Sally is right. I hate when people who aren’t experts try to improve themselves and have fun with micro controllers. Even worse is writing about it! I mean, this article comes dangerously close to downright ENCOURAGING people who don’t have extensive knowledge of embedded electronics to participate and make things for themselves! Outrageous!

      1. Winkleink says:

        Absolutely agree. Providing information that may be useful to a beginner considering buying their first maker setup is outrageous. Next thing we know normal people on the street will be flashing LEDs, making motors and g do forbid if they ever find out about 3D printers. It will the end of the precious world where makers and tinkerers can look down on others.

        On a more serious note:
        Raspberry Pi
        With the latest GPIO library as soft PWM on all pins.
        So, 1 hardware PWM and the rest software.
        I find it interesting that the Pi is listed as having IDLE for development and the BeagleBone has Python. Both have Python, with IDLE installed as standard on the Raspberry Pi.
        On the Arduino the 6 PWM lines are some of the 14 digital lines. So, if you have 3 PWM then there are 11 Digital lines left.

        Personally, I haven’t used a Beaglebone/Board but I have been messing with (Yes, I am one of those people who doesn’t know what they are doing but enjoying the learning) Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

        Arduino:
        ———–
        Flashing LEDs – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O219Pm9Sl5Y
        LED Matrix – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9z-EDi65xFI
        Game of Columns on Composite TV (TVOut library drive Composite video with a few resistors) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9v3UugRQ3A
        Servos wizzing around – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6LWGX2d-Rc
        Ethernet Shield to allow control over the network. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj7BQMd0wc8

        Raspberry Pi:
        —————–
        Scratch
        Scratch controlling a remote control car – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvG4WhqKcmE
        Controlling Stepper Motors using USB gamepad, python and pygame – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yooWUZPkzr4
        Minecraft Pi programming – http://winkleink.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/raspberry-pi-minecraft-and-python.html

        Through these activities I have also ended up arranging a couple of Raspberry Jam events and also got to know about a local hackspace.

        To me all 3 boards are fantastic and people should use them as they wish.

    2. Ain’t Moore’s law a b!t@h?

  6. Can’t quite believe this article – I had to check the date more than once to make sure it was actually a recent post! The Pi now has 512mb, it has a single PWM pin. As for comparing these three platforms – someone else said apples and oranges – absolutely. Ridiculous.

    1. Mat says:

      As I mentioned above, for THE TARGET GROUP for this article, it is a very valuable article. You are probably not in this target group, ie complete beginners, but I am. I loved this article.

  7. hendra says:

    I’d go for Cubieboard, real bargain for $49

  8. Steve Bush says:

    Wish your table had included Teensy-3.0. Arduino Uno compatible but 48/96 MHz ARM, 10 12-bit A/Ds, and more, and approx the same price as the Arduino ($20 board).

  9. saal says:

    All the ‘apples to oranges’ comments are wrong.

    This article is for beginners who need help being pointed in the right direction for which board to use and learn on. Comparing what they can and can’t do is EXACTLY what many beginners need to know.

    And I don’t understand what Sally’s issue is with people who want to learn how to program on a uC? Does opening up “programming for the masses” scare you?

  10. Tor Skude says:

    Something I think you should revise is the price of the Arduino. It is true that a “genuine” Arduino Uno is $30, but a Chinese clone can be had for less than half of that off eBay. There are no such cheap clones of the Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone boards.

  11. Teensy would have fit in well here, I think.

  12. Jack I. says:

    Great article. I’ll be referencing this again when I’m ready to buy

  13. J says:

    All of these devices have merit and I’m happy to see people who “don’t know what they’re doing” have a crack at something interesting.

    One item to think about that’s not mentioned here is the processor support outside of these systems. The only hesistation I would have of using Raspberry Pi is that it’s based on a broadcom micro. In the low to mid volume embedded space, designing in a processor from broadcom may have some downside interms of long term availability. In this one aspect, beagle board has the advantage of being supported by TI, who has long history in the embedded space. But for all of us who just like to make one-offs for fun projects you can’t beat the Pi’s cost.

  14. Juan Andres says:

    Buena comparación entre las distintas placas, trabaja más en el tema de la gramática y las palabras repetidas en la redacción. Pero en general muy interesante artículo.

  15. M. Leo Cooper says:

    It would have been nice to have the new PCDuino in your comparison lineup –
    similar to the Beagle Bone, but cheaper, and with HDMI video out.

  16. K Trout says:

    I’m going to have to agree with those who point out the apples to oranges comparison. An Arduino uses a microcontroller. The Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone are small embedded computer systems. They fulfill very different purposes and have different strengths, and I don’t feel this article handled that subject adequately. Yes, you CAN blink an LED on all three, but if you only want to blink an LED, why would you use an ARM CPU? A laptop computer can blink an LED, too.

    1. Mat says:

      …and yet, I as a beginner and part of the target group for this article, still found this extremely valuable. You clearly already know too much to find this article relevant so it is probably not for you.

      1. K Trout says:

        While I am terribly excited to hear of someone learning new and nifty things, especially with such fun gizmos as these, it is important to note that the article IS misleading. Just because it is enlightening does not mean it isn’t misleading and poorly thought out.

  17. John says:

    Great article, exactly what I wanted to know, explained in nice simple terms which obviously suites anyone looking for this type of info, (a beginner), & it came up easily on a google search

  18. Bryan Kelly says:

    Having been in the ‘IT World’ a long time – it is really nice to see things like this (I can do without the ‘who is the clever one’ debates’ or silliness about linguistics – just go and learn something!). But, as I normally see only small parts of an enterprise project – it is great to see end-to-end project technologies appearing. There have been systems like this for decades – but only in enterprise R&D environments ($$$) – this is good stuff. If there is anyone under 50 years of age in this comment stream – let me know – I’d be curious…

    1. K Trout says:

      Me.

  19. Amigo says:

    i was extremely excited reading trough the article gobbling up all the info like a kid that has not eaten in quiet a while.im one of those people that you can consider naive about how a simple computer works.i know how to use it yes and browse the net etc.simple.However the reason why im here is because i herd about the rsberry pi these week and after doing a bit of research i got inspired by all the great people that are online teaching alot of us that have limited knowledge but yet have an interest in technology. its really inspiring to read people like @steve &@winkleink voice their responce in that manner. is a privilage to be part what i like to refer to “collective knowledge”. these is a place that all of us have and many of us choose to share these precious knowledge with others.online i found is the place where barriers are broken down.even though many of you guys have no idea of who i am, sum might be able to grasp what im transfering. many thanks to the writer and all the great people that connect to the collective and choose to make it available to others that are seeking.

  20. Yosh says:

    They all fail to provide mobile Lipo-Power and cheap lcd screens, apart from the not mentioned OLinuXino A13. And what I really miss are shields for them to accept arduino shields.

  21. Menachem Began says:

    I really appreciate the “Spoiler: we recommend all three.” Perfect!!

    By the way, a Raspberry Pi isn’t really $35. By the time you add (not free) shipping, it’s closer to $50. Then you need to add many mandatory accessories.

    Conversely, an Arduino Uno R3 knock off really is about $15.20 delivered.

    1. Yosh says:

      Where do you get the Uno this cheap?

    2. Bill Carlson says:

      In addition, not only is the Arduino less expensive, it’s also available everywhere. One can wander down to a Radio Shack just about anywhere and pick up and Arduino and related books and shields.

  22. Newbie says:

    I am a newbie. Had no idea about if I wanted apple, orange or pear. thx ;-)

  23. I’ve been using the Arduino for robotics as it is by far the easiest to interface electronically – and it is what my current robot kit is based on. I am looking forward to playing with a BeagleBone Black – getting Linux on a robot without the power draw of the Pi would be nice. I’ve been using the Pi mostly for Python game coding – but have used it for some robotics projects too…

    1. You are definitely right, Arduino all the way. Just purchased an Arduino Mini USB Nano V3.0 ATmega328 for $9. Of course you could always pay four times that amount for something double the complexity with half the user support. ;)

  24. Sigi says:

    The BeagleBoard has HDMI

  25. davidbitton says:

    Why no mention of the .net gadgeteer? C# is pretty easy to code.

    http://www.ghielectronics.com/technologies/.net-gadgeteer

    1. M. Leo Cooper says:

      “Why no mention of the .net gadgeteer? C# is pretty easy to code.”

      The hardware for that platform is very expensive,
      and you’re locked into the Microsoft closed-source
      model. C# isn’t that much easier or better than
      the stripped-down C++ on the Arduino or Python
      on the Pi.

  26. turtaf says:

    You are reporting on the old beagleboard. The new one is half the price and has video capability.Very worth mentioning!

  27. David Sherrick says:

    For a project I am working on right now one huge benefit of the Beaglebone (we have the old one) is the beautiful form factor you can get when pairing them with the LCD7 (7″ 800×480 lcd cape with touch screen capability). The Beaglebone bone connects to the underside of the LCD with no cables other than the 5v power supply.

    This is so much better than the mass of cables you would need to accomplish the same thing with the Raspberry Pi. We found an equivalent LCD for the Pi that requires a 12v power supply, and a very bulky HDMI/USB (combined) cable that would be nearly impossible to fit into the neat little case we are 3D printing.

    If we can get the Audio cape to work along with it (and Android) it will be absolutely perfect because the Audio cape simply attaches (again with no cables) to the underside of the LCD7 as well with a built-in set of expansion pins.

  28. GeekDadof4 says:

    Don’t forget about the TI Launchpad kits http://www.ti.com/analog/docs/memsmidlevel.tsp?sectionId=622&tabId=2447 . They are $10 have a decent dev community and like Arduino, they actually have onboard A/D. Something the Pi and Beagle don’t have. they don’t hide as much behind “shields” and a specialized dev language though, so the learning curve is a bit higher. For the Money, the CubieBoard looks to be more of a value that the other two ‘nix systems though.

  29. blaze 4 fun says:

    Great article!!! I love the Arduino but wanted to expand into a popular, more powerful device. This was just what I was looking for. Screw the flamers that throw negativity on a valid article; make a simple point if you must but respect the work. But…I did find some of the grammatical problems distracting. Otherwise, thanks!!!

  30. jkridner says:

    Will we see an update of this article to cover the updated BeagleBone Black and R-Pi boards any time soon?

    1. francjez says:

      Agree! That would be nice. Apparently the B.B.B. outperforms the other two. BBB has now HDMI 512mb, A8 1GHz etc, etc.

  31. Nick says:

    I just bought a beaglebone black, own a pi, programmed netburners, and own and program netduino 2, 2+, arduino Unos, arbotix. For hobby programming with things that require IO (either digital in/out, PWM, analogin out) the arduino is very hard to beat. For $13 you can get an ethernet shield which lets you talk IP. The article author is probably not aware of the sample web server app. It’s just hard to beat the arduino. The NetBurner is my favorite platform for these types of jobs because their modules can do anything and their dev environment and runtime U/COS + their own libraries are awesome. I was very disappointed with the pi, that’s all I’ll say (and I program on linux all day at work). I was very very very excited about the beaglebone black. It seemed like the best of all worlds, IO comparable to the arduino, with the processing power and memory of a pi, linux, and even a QNX BSP (QNX is an awesome real-time microkernel distributed OS – I’ve used the 4.2 and 6.x versions do develop motion control, GUI, etc. apps) Anyway, so far, the beagle bone black is the biggest disappointment. So much promise, yet terrible docs, the bonescript environment is half-baked (click on analog write and you get a file not found) – and who wants to use javascript for IO? There is no official C/C++ API, my fault for assuming there would be but all the others have it – it’s basically assumed that it’d be there on any micro controller. The docs mention a TPU-like thing but you can only use it to generate PWM not to measure duty cycle. Overall, it seems like a really cool piece of hardware but it’s just so very very half-baked with pretty poor software support. And of course the QNX BSP only supports the old beagle bone and no one has any idea if it can be made to work with the black. $89 for the old bone is too much when you can get netburner modules that have a real RTOS and awesome libs and dev tools, $45 was a great price -point but the software APIs are just not there for people who want to do any kind of close-to-real-time software development. Yes I know Linux is a general purpose OS not an RTOS but still, it’s a pretty big letdown that the official IO APIs are in javascript…

    1. francjez says:

      Hi Nick. So you would not racommand BBB? On paper it looked nice. What about the comparison between the user base? …and “add-ons”?
      THX for your insight!

  32. devin says:

    Does anyone have any experience with freeSOC? It looks like it is comparable to an arduino in CPU, but has huge I/O capabilities as well as completely configurable I/O.

  33. Here is one more open platform hardware, which positions itself between Arduino and RaspBerryPi : http://Anykey0x.de/

  34. gs says:

    can you update for beaglebone black? a much better comparison based on price

  35. ritesh says:

    can someone suggest me which board i should use for a quadrotor in which i wanna use Image processing using openCV, gprs connectivity, four brushless motors, some sensors, an IMU etc.
    Plz reply i want i urgently
    my email: ritesh.udsaria@ismu.ac.in

  36. Todd Schroedel says:

    The biggest advantage to the PI and Beagle have is remote access. In order to change the code on the Arduino you have to plug the device into your PC and upload the code. With the others you can SSH into the device and update the code.

    1. Not true, look into Spark Core. program your Arduino wirelessly over the internet in two easy steps.

  37. snooglehound says:

    The article provides an OK review of technology. I would like to see a more extensive review of implementation characteristics ‘Side by side’. For example if my project needs WiFi a nice table with pi=yes. Beagle = yes. Arduino = no would be sooo handy.

  38. Raphaël says:

    It’s french and written “voilà”. Your “and viola” would translate as “and raped”. I’m pretty sure that’s not what you meant.

  39. “For applications that connect to the internet we recommend the BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi.” Seriously, what about spark core? You can even program your Arduino wirelessly over the internet in two easy steps. Raspberry Pi & BeagleBone? No such luck.

  40. Justin says:

    Raspberry Pi Model B is not 256MB RAM ,it is 512MB.

  41. Arduino is as easy to connect at Internet as any other electronics board. Please check this article http://www.intorobotics.com/getting-started-with-arduino-ethernet-shield-tutorials-and-resources/ with a lot of tutorials how Arduino can be connected to the Internet

  42. Tzia71 says:

    Amazing article for a newbie like me. Thank you very much!

  43. Greg Robert says:

    Geesh! Whatever the faults of the original article they pale in comparsion to all the crap in the replies that are totally off topic. – Greg

  44. mrmoenav says:

    ok so I bought the arduino uno and I’m not happy with it seams I can’t get it to take off.
    things were looking good up till the moment that i wanted to upload the pushbuttoncontroll sketch cause it gave me a msg that read “digitalwright was not declared in this scope” what!!?
    I mean “shut the front door!!” I copied everithing just as in the book, can someone tell me what is up?

  45. Chris Sparks says:

    I really wanted to get an SBC and LCD kit that would work in my car. I have considered just buying tablets and maybe use a PI for small IO stuff. I am just concerned about longevity as my car can generate a lot of heat. I bought a NOVA 7892 years ago and it has a 386 based CPU which I realized is too slow and I have a 6.4″ TFT LCD with 640×480 res. Not acceptable because of slow operation. I need help sorting this mess I have created! LOL

  46. Pr1y3nd says:

    Hi. Slight mistake with Beagle Bone. Your table lists no HDMI when the Beagle Bone does have a HDMI capability. Your front/side view pics also show the micro HDMI. You make need to correct this article. Pr1y3nd

  47. Satish says:

    Thanks Alasdair for a nice insight for a beginner like me in this field. We have a requirement where the device will run on 24 by 7 for months (almost like a network switch).
    Which of the three you think is best suited keeping just this factor in mind.

    Thanks in advance.

  48. Gregory Baker says:

    Great article. I’m a newbie in all respects but I think I have a overall understanding of all three boards.