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Is Arduino a Single Board Computer?

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Is Arduino a single board computer
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Arduino is an excellent tool for people of all skill levels, essentially those with a knowledge of fundamental electronics. Its software and hardware are designed keeping in mind beginners, hobbyists, and designers.

So it’s ideal for anyone who has the desire to create interactive objects. This can include developing a basic robot or a system for accomplishing repetitive tasks such as opening a garage door or switching the lights on and off.

Arduino can easily incorporate components such as sensors, LEDs, buttons, cameras, speakers, motors, etc. for these tasks.


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For this reason, Arduino is favored by many. Not only does it possess the flexibility of unlimited uses, but the software is free with inexpensive hardware boards. This makes it highly attractive to the IT community.

The Arduino family has developed several different boards, including Lilypad, UNO, RedBoard, Mega, and Leonardo. However, UNO is one of the more popular models, with nearly 55% of users preferring it over others.

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The Arduino Features

Arduino has developed several well-suited options, each with different capabilities. It’s an open source hardware, which means anyone can modify and produce derivatives of the board. It promotes users to generate more form factors and enhance functionality.

The Arduino consists of both a piece of software (IDE) and a physical circuit board, also known as a microcontroller. It has input and output pins that allow it to be connected to other devices, such as sensors and LEDs.

So, at its most intrinsic level, it can be categorized as a plug and play device. When the power is connected, it runs the program but stops if disconnected.

This microcontroller board facilitates the development of hardware projects. You can hook it up to a variety of sensors and shields. With the aid of a sensor, Arduino can control, interact, or measure specific variables in its surroundings.

These include temperature, light, radioactivity, CO levels, air pressure, etc. On the other hand, shields are pre-built circuit boards that can fit on top of an Arduino. They can contribute to additional capabilities like controlling motors or connecting to the internet.

Though Arduino has 32 kb storage capacity to store code, the platform allows users to load new code via USB cable. And since Arduino does not have an operating system, its firmware merely interprets the code written to it. This then decides the function of the Arduino.

Arduino can be expanded using external hardware, such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, camera, touchscreens, etc., all of which must be appropriately addressed using code. This is relatively uncomplicated since the software utilizes a simple version of C++, an easy program to learn. The end result- the functions of the microcontroller transform into a more accessible package.

So is Arduino a Single Board Computer or not?

The ongoing debate continues about what separates a single board computer from a microcontroller board. For some, it may be difficult to differentiate the two clearly, but several characteristics help in telling them apart.

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Single board computers have more processing power. They are typically more powerful than Arduino. For example, Raspberry Pi has considerably more RAM than Arduino. In fact, Arduino is typically suitable to run one program over and over again.

Another distinguishing aspect is the availability- or absence- of operating systems. Single board computers are designed to run mainstream operating systems, such as Linux, Windows or Android. While some microcontrollers may not have an OS, most often function on a real-time operating system (RTOS).

This next point is where the line that separates the two smears a little. As mentioned above, Arduino users can interface with electronic components, providing an array of input and output capabilities. But since microcontrollers are more viable in the electronic field rather than that of computers, they are more likely to have analog inputs and outputs.

However, you may also find features similar to single board computers, such as SPI and I2C. This is what makes Arduino more suitable and adaptable when integrating it with other boards such as Raspberry Pi.

On the other hand, you’ll notice that a single board computer has numerous I/O ports that you usually find on a laptop or PC. They include HDMI, USB, touchscreen, and other panels.

The SBC and MCU are both beneficial, each with multiple advantages. You need to know how to implement either one or both in your project. The latter is best for repetitive jobs while the former is more suitable for performing multiple or complicated tasks. So choose what is best for you.

About the Author:

Alma CauseyAlma Causey is a Freelance writer by day and sports fan by night. She writes about tech education and health related issues. Live simply, give generously, watch football and a technology lover.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article Is Arduino a Single Board Computer? was written by NaijaTechGuide Team. The article was last modified: March 17th, 2019

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