Let’s take a look at the opinions from different engineers on what they consider while selecting a developer board.
If one has to implement simple logic based algorithms using simple control loop structures of programming, a micro controller based developer kit would be apt. “Arduino and its variants would be easy to learn and quickly prototype. Most MCUs have Embedded C based programming interfaces, although in recent times we have seen Java / .net cross compilers for MCUs. However, C based interface are stable and remains the most widely used,” explains Darshan Virupaksha, systems engineer,Altiux Innovations and co-organiser of IoTBLR.
He adds that if one has more computational requirements like image processing and intends to have faster communications interfaces, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone or UDOO boards are useful. High-level languages are very well supported on any of these Linux platforms. Since these platforms run some flavour of Linux prototyping becomes simpler. Hence for use cases involving all media processing, machine leaning algorithms and faster connectivity one could use the above-mentioned Linux platforms.
All MCU based boards can easily run on battery power. All though a Raspberry Pi can be technically supported with just a battery, it is not a viable option at all. While an MCU-based board would support low power requirements (0.3 W), the latter would need around 10W of continuous power. Hence it makes more sense to have an MCU-based board like the Arduino in these cases.
Arduino boards have huge collection of shields for all applications, where as Raspberry Pi has a limited set of shields because of its limited I/O interfaces. Raspberry Pi provides on board interfaces like Ethernet and allows quick use of any USB device, hence opening up a range of options for the developers.
Boards like the Raspberry Pi are cheaper since the production numbers are quite high. This allows the company to minimise manufacturing costs due to economies of scale, and pass on the savings to the end-customer. “It is also much easier to integrate an open source board rather then developing your own PCB from scratch,” adds Upton.
“I started my son off with Snap Circuits, and he’s moved on to Lego Mindstorms in his local Robotics club at school. I would like to see accessibility improve with lower prices, and many boards from the major semiconductor companies are already subsidized. But for the best marriage of accessible (i.e., low cost) hardware and information, I think Arduino has that nailed,” explains Lynnette Reese, technical team lead, Mouser Electronics.
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“Open source boards have been a great tool for prototyping and R&D, because the boards were well documented and as a result offered much better support compared to proprietary boards,” says Eben.