When looking at boards for your 3D printer, two of your top choices is between Arduino and Raspberry Pi. These are two boards that each have their advantages and disadvantages that users can enjoy. These are both incredible boards that can be hard to choose between. By reading on, you can learn everything that you need to know about these options to determine which is the best one for your needs.
So Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi: which is better?
What is Arduino for 3D Printer?
Arduino is a brand that specializes in open-source microcontroller board. These boards are essentially basic computers that can run a single program, read inputs, and react exactly how they were programmed to based on a specific output. Since these aren’t super powerful as other single-board computers, you will only really use an Arduino for a single task. Arduino boards are open-source, meaning that you can make changes to the controller to adapt it to whatever you need it to be.
The Arduino board is primarily used to interface with devices and sensors, which is why this is great for anything where you just want the board to respond to various types of manual input and sensor readings. You may think that this means this is a very simple product, but it is actually far more complex than you may think. It’s a sophisticated enough of a device to manage most devices better and is a great option to run a device where you may not need the advantages of a full operating system.
Many DIY robot kits that you can buy online utilize Arduino software and you may not even realize it.
What are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Arduino for 3D Printer?
One of the biggest benefits of using Arduino is that it can be expanded when you use external hardware such as Ethernet, touchscreens, and other types of hardware. It’s easy to use if you are a beginner, but you can also utilize more advanced features as you gain experience in using it. Lastly, there is also the benefit that you actually have on-board storage with the Arduino, which is where the open-source coding for the board is stored.
There are some potential disadvantages to consider. One is that this may not be as powerful as other options, including the Raspberry Pi, since it doesn’t have an operating system or has the features that a computer has. It also only uses Arduino for developing the code, whereas you get more options with Raspberry Pi.
- Functions that are Seemingly Effortless
You are able to code your Arduino in such a way that many functions can become essentially effortless.
Since you are able to expand the Arduino by adding external hardware, you can really get Arduino to work for whatever your specific needs are.
- Can Be Difficult to Modify
If you don’t have a lot of tech or programming skills, you may have a lot of difficulty working with Arduino. The shields can be hard to modify as well.
- Lacks Debugger
If you’re reliant on a debugger to check any coding or scripts that you create, then this isn’t a great option for you.
What are the Different Types of Arduino?
There are a few different options for Arduino that you can look into, such as:
- Starter Kits
The starter kits are the perfect option for beginners. This will help you learn how to program Arduino so that you can become a more seasoned professional with this open-source hardware. The kits not only have the Arduino but any of the important sensors, wires and other parts to help you learn how to use your Arduino. It also has the documentation that you need to be more effective in your programming. It’s better to get your experimentation out before you move onto the more expensive boards.
- Arduino Boards (Standard)
These boards include the Arduino Micro, Arduino Nano, and the Arduino Uno Revision 3. These are boards that are perfect for beginners because they are easy to use and have tutorials to help you better understand how to use them. They are ready to power and go when you get them.
- Arduino Boards (Enhanced Features)
When you are talking about Arduino boards with more enhanced features, you are talking about boards like the Arduino MKR FOX 1200, Arduino Mega 2560, and the Arduino MKR Wifi 1010. These are more advanced boards that are fasters and more powerful but are better for people with more experience in using them. You would get this board for your more complicated projects.
- Arduino Shields
Arduino shields are add-on boards that you can buy that adds a certain functionality to the board that you may need. Some examples would be for adding a joystick or button, sensor capabilities, Bluetooth, or even an LCD screen. These are stackable, so you can add what you need to achieve your project goals.
What is Raspberry Pi for 3D Printer?
Raspberry Pi is considered to be the first single-board microcomputer to be successful and affordable. It has all the components that a computer would normally need to run including outputs, SD slot, inputs, memory, process, and GPU. All of this can be found on a car that is no bigger than a credit card. As a result of these components, the Raspberry Pi is able to run multiple tasks or programs. This has becoming a popular choice for PC fans and the DIY community due to its many benefits over other similar options on the market today.
The Arduino options do have built-in storage, but Raspberry Pi offers you microSD slots so that you can use cards to swap between different projects or tasks. The Raspberry Pi is often referred to as the brains of a project. There are popular items on the market that are powered by Raspberry Pi, such as the Kano’s Computer Kit Complete or the Piper Computer kits. Whatever your printing project is, Raspberry Pi is an excellent option to pick.
What are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Raspberry Pi for 3D Printer?
The Raspberry Pi also has plenty of advantages and disadvantages to consider when you are deciding between these two options. You get all of the features that a regular computer has, including a functioning operating system named Raspbian. It can also use various other operating systems, but Linux is the option most people prefer when they use Raspberry Pi. For developing the code for the Raspberry Pi, you can use anything that supports Linux.
- Easy to Use
With Raspberry Pi, you don’t need to have any coding or programmer skills to use it. You can use Python with Raspberry Pi, which is a much easier programming language to learn and use than other types of coding languages.
- Can Experiment with Different Approaches Better
As previously mentioned, Raspberry Pi uses SD cards so you can easily switch out the cards as needed. You don’t need to constantly install or re-install anything, which can be very time consuming. You just need to pop out the SD card and switch it with one that has the programming you need.
- Excels with Adaptive Technology
Since it can display high definition images and videos, this is often a better choice for building competitive projects.
- Lacks On-Board Memory
You will need to spend additional money in order to buy SD cards for your memory needs.
What are the Different Types of Raspberry Pi?
Raspberry Pi has several different board options for you to consider, but this section will only take a look at the most popular of these options such as:
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
This is one of the most popular models that people purchase. This specific board was first introduced in 2018 and is very affordable. This microcomputer has dual-band wireless LAN, 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core processor, and faster ethernet. Some would argue that this is the most powerful and reliable option that Raspberry Pi offers.
- Raspberry Pi Zero W
When Raspberry created this board, they manage to get their entire Raspberry Pi on a board that was half the size of their other boards with double the computing power. This still isn’t as powerful as the Model B+. but this is still affordable and powerful enough for most of your needs.
There other models are still decent buys but these are the top choices if you are looking for the best Raspberry Pi has to offer.
Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi for 3D Printer: Which is Better?
Before you decide which option is best for your needs, you need to carefully consider what you need these boards for. The types of projects you work on will depend on which board is better for your needs. Here are some things to consider:
- Arduino may be better suited for simple, but repetitive tasks.
- Raspberry Pi is better suited for complex and multiple tasks.
- Arduino is better for beginners.
These are both excellent options, but now it’s time to take a closer look at which option is better:
What are you using it for? As previously mentioned, this is probably the most important consideration. If your project is complex and requires multiple tasks, you will want to choose the Raspberry Pi. Otherwise, both options are perfectly fine for most applications.
There are options within several different price ranges, depending on what your specific needs are, for both of these brands. As far as price goes, these options are both pretty even so it all comes down to preference and your specific needs.
Arduino’s operating system (IDE), is pretty basic and limited, so you may need to use a computer to program it. However, the Raspberry Pi is able to be used with a variety of different operating systems and programming languages, such as Python or C++. If you want something that has more features and options as far as the programming goes, Raspberry Pi is the superior choice.
If you are looking for something that has a lot of tutorials and support, Arduino can be a better option. You will get some resources with Raspberry Pi, but Arduino really shines with helping people better use their products.
How much power is needed to run these options? Each of these options have completely different requirements for power. Just taking a look at the Raspberry Pi Model B board, this option requires 1.5 watts when it is idle and can require up to 6.7 watts when connected to another device in use. When talking about the smaller Raspberry Pi Zero W only requires 0.5 watts as it’s idle and 1.75 watts when connected to devices.
To use Raspberry Pi boards, you need to have 5 volts just to stay on. This means that you need to use either a rechargeable battery pack or a wall adapter to keep these boards powered.
This is in contrast when using the Arduino, where it can be used to execute code as soon as you plug it in and stop when it gets unplugged. If you want to add additional pins or shields, you can add more functionality. To power the Arduino, you just need to have a battery pack that can provide an adequate amount of voltage. This is used along with a shield to help manage your power.
What happens when the power drops on these options? With Arduino, if the power drops the device stops working. It will continue the coding process when it gets power again. There are no software errors nor do you have to worry about having a corrupt operating system. However when it comes to the Raspberry Pi, you do need to properly shut the device down otherwise you do struggle with errors or a corrupted operating system.
Both of these products have several different interface ports. Connecting the analog sensors can be an easier and more straightforward process when you use Arduino boards. When connected, the Arduino can very easily understand and respond to an impressive array of sensor data based on the code you input into it. This can be particularly useful if you need it to react to sensor data or repeating a series of commands. However, with Raspberry Pi you will need to have software to interface with other devices.
One of the areas where the Raspberry Pi shines when compared to the Arduino is when it comes to networking. Raspberry Pi devices typically have a built-in ethernet port as well as having Wireless N connectivity. As soon are you are connected online, you are able to use the operating system on the Raspberry Pi to use the internet, process any HTML, or other things that you need online access for.
The problem that you may have with the Arduino devices is that there is no built-in network fresh out of its box. You can get this if you have the time and patience to add in this connectivity on your own, such as through adding an ethernet port using a specialized extra chip. Then, you need to do the right coding and wiring to achieve network connectivity.
The Better Choice?
There is an easy to follow rule where if you need to use 2 “ands” when you are describing the task, then the Raspberry Pi is a better choice. If it’s a very basic task, then you can use the Arduino. Basically, if you need a computer to do a specific task, Raspberry Pi is for you. This is because the Raspberry Pi can make various tasks easier to manage, so that you can read and write data, link to an external display, or view any type of media.
Can You Use Both Arduino and Raspberry Pi?
Some would why you would even need to choose between these two options. Each of these products both are very capable of accomplishing different tasks, which means that you may be able to greatly benefit from using both of these options. For instance, maybe you can use the Raspberry Pi so that you have client-side way to access the codes and settings that you need while using the Arduino device to gather data from sensors and handling the actuation of your devices.
Depending on what your specific needs are, these products can compliment each other very well. You can teach these devices to talk to each other to make achieving various tasks much easier than they would be otherwise. You can code the Arduino to control the sensors while letting your Raspberry Pi essentially become the brains of whatever operations you are trying to do. There are plenty of tutorials that are available that can help you utilize both of these great devices. This may not be the best solution for people, especially beginners or those who are less than savvy when it comes to technology. But if you can, you may find that you like using both of these devices together much better for you.