As the world of embedded electronics keeps growing more prominent, more and more microcontrollers are wading their way into the market.
The leading wave of said microcontrollers includes the all-time classic Arduino, the NodeMCU and the legendary Raspberry Pi. But if all of them are so good, what sets them apart?
Read on as we put together a heads up comparison of the three microcontrollers
Starting with the microcontroller with which possibly every electronics enthusiast starts. The Arduino line of microcontrollers has been around since forever. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be used anywhere.
From simple LED blinkers to complicated 3D printers, you can make anything you want on an Arduino. The hardware is capable of a lot more than you think.
Arduino also offers a lot of people their first shot at programming. The IDE and the language are extremely easy for newcomers and pros alike. There are libraries for pretty much every peripheral that you’re going to connect to it as well.
Overall, the Arduino is the perfect beginner microcontroller out there.
Also read: Top 7 IDEs and Text Editors to code
Things get a little riled up here. You see, the NodeMCU is pretty much exactly what the Arduino is, except with WiFi embedded. It’s based on the ESP8266 SoC and is significantly more powerful than the Arduino.
Now sure you could slap a WiFi shield on an Arduino and have all the same capabilities but the NodeMCU does it much better.
It also gives you options in terms of programming languages. You could either program it in Lua or the Arduino Programming Language. Note that beginners are recommended to start with APL unless the implementation demands otherwise.
NodeMCU brings a lot more processing power on the table, allowing you to build pretty much everything from smart home appliances to self-driving robots.
And it’s compatible with pretty much everything that the Arduino is.
The Raspberry Pi is the most advanced of the three. Simply put, it is a whole computer on a credit card sized board. Hook up a monitor, a keyboard and a MicroSD card with an operating system on it, and you’ve got yourself a proper computer.
Now obviously it is not going to compete with your everyday computer. It has a particular role, which, in reality, is pretty diverse.
Nowadays, RasPis are running anything from vending machines to car dashboards. Just like the previous controllers, you can build anything you want except that you get way more control over the way you do things.
Also, you can code in pretty much any language you prefer. Again for beginners, I’d suggest Python as it’s a great language not only to learn but also to utilise the GPIO on the Pi to it’s fullest.
Since it’s also a full-blown computer, people have run entire servers off of it. I have used it as a backup server, like a smart TV, a smart mirror, to build an autonomous car prototype and as my backup computer.
Overall, it’s a great thing to get your hands dirty.
Which one should you choose?
What microcontroller you choose really depends on a lot of factors. How comfortable you are working on either of these or how good you might be at coding them to what your particular project demands.