Arduino or Raspberry Pi or...

Thread Starter

bullzai

Joined Jan 19, 2015
42
For a kid going into high school next year, with no experience with electronics or programming, which would make a better gift to potentially spark some interest; an Arduino starter kit, a Raspberry Pi, or some other type of micro-controller?

Like most kids, he's into the Xbox and general computer use. I have some experience with the Arduino--although I live in a different state--so I mentioned the idea to his mother and she thinks it's a good idea to try. I think the mother also studied some electronics briefly in the past.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
19,270
Arduino and rPi are two completely different platforms, like working on fixing a VW Beetle vs fixing the International Space Station.

Start with the Arduino. Life is lot simpler there.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
For a kid going into high school next year, with no experience with electronics or programming, which would make a better gift to potentially spark some interest; an Arduino starter kit, a Raspberry Pi, or some other type of micro-controller?

Like most kids, he's into the Xbox and general computer use. I have some experience with the Arduino--although I live in a different state--so I mentioned the idea to his mother and she thinks it's a good idea to try. I think the mother also studied some electronics briefly in the past.

The arduino is way better but, if he is going to do anything, the starter set (as you said) is required.

The Raspberry Pi is a full computer but, unless he eventually figures out the I/O pins, it won't be much different than his laptop.
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
2,977
I vote for the Arduino, also. At this point, with no electronic or programming experience, the RPi would overwhelm him.

This Arduino starter kit is a good one; it's got the Arduino plus a bunch of "goodies" to play with, and a really good, well illustrated manual to go with it. Once he's exhausted the possibilities in the starter kit, he can get all sorts of other Arduino-related stuff (sensors, actuators, displays, electronic parts, etc.) at Adafruit.
 

Thread Starter

bullzai

Joined Jan 19, 2015
42
An Arduino does sound good. About the Raspberry Pi being a full computer, couldn't that be more intuitive to some young people? I've never used a Pi so I have no clue, but I do run Linux.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
8,867
An Arduino does sound good. About the Raspberry Pi being a full computer, couldn't that be more intuitive to some young people? I've never used a Pi so I have no clue, but I do run Linux.
When I retired, I wanted to start using Arduino, RPi, or similar. About 18 months ago, I heard about a Kickstarter project for a $9 computer called Chip. It was advertised to have 8 GPIO's, but if you use the LCD and CSI pins, it's closer to 40.

The nice thing about this "computer" is that the OS is installed in on-board FLASH (4GB on the current version; 8GB on the original design). It comes with Debian Linux and a bunch of apps (word processing, browser, etc) pre-installed. If you're interested, more info at getchip.com.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,556
The arduino is pretty darn simple, and there's tons of online help which is just as important.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
An Arduino does sound good. About the Raspberry Pi being a full computer, couldn't that be more intuitive to some young people? I've never used a Pi so I have no clue, but I do run Linux.
It is intuitive "as a computer" but, what do you want him to do with it? Electronics? Accessing the I/o pins is not so straight forward.

Arduino: (everything to right of // is comment ignored by arduino (format is approximate)

While (1){ // keep repeating everything in bracket
Pin(13) = 1; // turn pin 13 on
Delay(1000); // wait 1000 milliseconds (1 second)
Pin(13) = (0); // turn pin 13 off
Delay(1000); // wait 1000 milliseconds
} // go to while statement.

See how easily an LED can be flashed?
 

Thread Starter

bullzai

Joined Jan 19, 2015
42
OK, Arduino then. I see a bunch of decent kits for about $35 on ebay. That's were I got my kit over a year ago.

Related question: Are modules better to work with than components for someone new to electronics? I see some kits with modules that might have 4 pins each. I know for things like an LCD it's helpful to use something like I2C, but for some things I wonder if it just complicates things and gets in the way of learning about the components.
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,556
I'm told these are very popular. The video at the bottom pretty much explains it:
http://www.kr4.us/makey-makey-standard-kit.html

Here are some Arduino options. The Uno is very simple to use and inexpensive:
http://www.kr4.us/Arduino.html

If you want them to be interested, start with something simple so they will be successful. Too simple is better than too complicated. The more bells and whistles it has, the more difficult it's going to be to learn to use, especially when debugging.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
8,867
Related question: Are modules better to work with than components for someone new to electronics?
What is your objective?

Without appropriate background and guidance, giving someone an Arduino and expecting them to learn how to program and build circuits on their own could be an exercise in futility and end up discouraging them.

I've seen a number of people who can't even make an LED blink using one of these because they don't have the basics.
 

Thread Starter

bullzai

Joined Jan 19, 2015
42
Ah, good points about keeping it simple at first. I know one of the things I would have wanted in my kit is a simple LED matrix. Playing with the IMU in the Arduino 101 can be frustrating even now.
 

dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
2,985
Have a look at...
math.hws.edu/vaughn/cpsc/226/docs/askmanual.pdf
as I've found it an excellent start into Arduino. This book is a little dated but still is easy to follow. I'm teaching a group basic electronics and Arduino. Getting a kit to DO Stuff, like run a motor or two is so much easier in Arduino that RasPi. Also, if it gets smoked, an Arduino is not so expensive to replace. Some of the add on boards on Ebay are ridiculously cheeeep! There is a great range of very interesting things to make, and throw in a handful of $2 servos and you can make it move!. Like this...
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:34796/#files
That link even has the sample code to run it.
The RasPi is great too, but not for controlling things in "The Real World" like an Arduino (I know you can, but go Arduino). Eventually, maybe use a RasPi to be the HMI to the Arduino so you get the best of both worlds.
 

Thread Starter

bullzai

Joined Jan 19, 2015
42
Looks like I could create a custom kit at Tayda by selecting individual parts. An UNO R3 compatible is only $5 there.
 
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