Internet of Things - Three Popular Development Boards

The Internet of Things (IoT) is developing at a rapid pace, as a result of the availability of small, inexpensive computing hardware. IoT development boards combine micro-controllers, processors, wireless chips, and other components in a pre-built, ready-to-program package.  Development boards come in various configurations and here are three popular ones.

Arduino Uno

The Arduino UNO is an open-source microcontroller development board based on the ATmega328P(datasheet) which has:

  • 14 digital input/output pins
  • 6 analog inputs
  • A 16 MHz quartz crystal,
  • A USB connection,
  • A power jack,
  • An ICSP header and
  • A reset button

The Arduino Software (IDE) runs on Windows, Macintosh OSX, and Linux operating systems. The Arduino IDE supports the languages C and C++ using special rules of code structuring.

Applications:

Few applications of the Arduino Uno boards are:

  • Robotics and Control Systems
  • Home and Industry Automation
  • Traffic Light Countdown Timer
  • Underground Cable Fault Recognition
  • Controlling of Electrical Appliances using IR
  • Parking Lot Counter
  • Weighing Machines
  • Medical Instrument
  • Emergency Light for Railways
  • Auto Intensity Control of Street Lights
  • Biotechnology
  • Agriculture

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Cross-platform
  • Simple, clear programming environment
  • Open source and extensible software and hardware
  • Large support of community

Cons:

  • Memory limitations
  • Less powerful
  • Processing power is weaker than the microcontroller
  • Requires effort to accomplish some tasks such as scheduling and database storage 

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Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi is a fully functioning credit card-sized computer, which runs on a customized Debian Linux called Raspbian. Like a computer, a Pi has a memory, processor, USB ports, audio output, a graphic driver for HDMI output.

Pi is a powerful platform based on a Broadcom BCM2837 SoC with a:

  • 2 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor
  • 1GB RAM

Raspberry Pi 3 is equipped with:

  • 4 GHz WiFi 802.11n
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 10/100 Ethernet port

Advantages of Raspberry Pi over Arduino:

Raspberry Pi Arduino
Multitasking and suitable for complex projects Runs one program at a time, used for repetitive work
Suitable for software projects Suitable for hardware projects
No limiting to programming language Limited to Arduini, C/C++
Built-in Ethernet port for networking Need to connect external hardware and implement coding
Act as a server and communicate to other computers, connected devices. Excels in controlling small devices like sensors, motors, and lights

Applications of Raspberry Pi:

  • Media Streamer
  • Arcade machine
  • Tablet computer
  • Home automation
  • Carputer
  • Internet radio
  • Controlling robots
  • Cosmic Computer
  • Hunting for meteorites and Coffee
  • Raspberry based projects

Pros:

  • Super powerful with lots of memory and processing capabilities. Expandable memory.
  • Linux based OS and now even Windows 10 can be run on top of it to make processing more user-friendly.
  • A lot of GPIOs available, and the more the GPIOs, the more sensors you can interface.
  • If you have experience with Linux, it’s very easy to get started with it, otherwise it will take some time to get the hang of it.
  • Python, C, C++, Ruby, Go and many more can be used to program the Pi exactly the way you can code any computer.
  • People have successfully used Pi to run Open CV , data mining algorithms etc. and connected the results to various applications.
  • In terms of cost, better than an Arduino with Ethernet shield.
  • Great on-line community and endless possibilities of what can be done using it.

Cons:

  • You need good knowledge of Linux systems to get things moving
  • The processing power will be an overkill processing-wise for most of the applications since we will use it only to send data across.
  • Closed source.
  • Power hungry.

NodeMCU

The NodeMCU is an open source firmware, built around a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) called the ESP8266, and features:

  • Wi-Fi capability
  • Analog pin
  • Digital pins
  • Serial communication protocols

Applications of NodeMCU:

  • Geolocation using ESP8266
  • ESP8266 based wireless server
  • Pressure Sensors on Railway Tracks
  • Air Pollution Meter
  • Humidity and temperature monitoring
  • Wi-Fi controlled robot
  • Temperature logging system
  • M2M using ESP8266
  • Make your personal assistant 

Pros:

  • Provided inbuilt WiFi functionality
  • Cost-effective
  • Integrated support for WIFI network
  • Low energy consumption

Cons:

  • It is a 3.3V device, so it may not be compatible with some peripherals
  • Lack of official documentation
  • WiFi code takes a lot of CPU power

Trigent helps global companies to apply IoT Command Control and Coordination systems to solve real-world business problems. To know more visit: https://www.trigent.com/technologies/emerging-tech/internet-of-things.html.

Glossary:

ATmega328P - Single-chip microcontroller created by Atmel in the megaAVR family

BCM2837- Broadcom chip

ESP8266 - A low-cost Wi-Fi microchip capable of either hosting an application or offloading all Wi-Fi networking functions from another application processor.

References:

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