Question from an old longtime ham getting started with Arduino

Discussion in 'Arduino Playground' started by N3TGY, Sep 3, 2021.

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  1. N3TGY

    N3TGY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I finally am able to get an Arduino starter kit , my kids got me a Raspberry Pi 4 computer awhile ago, so I have been reading all of the cool projects I can use it for, I'm really excited to try doing some things for ham radio and just fun projects with an Arduino along with the RPi . I follow some project boards and building with the Arduino, also I've taken note of the Raspberry Pico micro controller as well.
    I'd like to ask you guys should I start with a starter kit for Arduino or should I look into the Raspberry Pico kits or Arduino starter kit and get a Pico board ( I'm going to have to get the pre soldered input output pins because I have ataxia) but I'm wondering where to start, the Pico board is inexpensive and I think that it would work on my breadboards for further input output. I thought I'd ask my fellow hams for some direction. Thanks for reading my question.
    Question: should I start Arduino using a startup kit? And Arduino vs. Raspberry Pico controllers or go with both?
  2. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is a terribly difficult question - as I'm sure you already realise!

    While the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi are both single board computers, there is an enormous difference between them and the choice really depends on what sort of things you want to build with them. I'm a computer professional of close to 40 years experience and it is still sometimes difficult to decide which to use. I have to say that I don't know the Pico well - it is a lot closer to the Arduino than the other Raspberry Pis - but I'll try to explain the difference and then, hopefully, you can choose...

    I guess that the fundamental difference is a question of processing power. The Arduino is quite a low speed computer by today's standards - certainly compared with the Pi 4 and its siblings. The Raspberry Pi 4 is comparable with a moderate specification laptop in terms of processing power and can do similar things - run multiple programs at the same time, driving a proper screen and keyboard. The Arduino is a lot closer to the personal computers of thirty years ago - Sinclair Spectrums and Tandy TRS80s - it has very small amounts of memory by today's standards and does not directly support proper screens and keyboards.

    At first sight, the Arduino is a dinosaur - so primitive that it is not worth a second thought. It's as expensive as a Raspberry Pi, so why should you buy it when a Pi will run Linux and drive a moderate screen? The answer often comes down to response time - the computer, on its own, does nothing - it needs a program loaded to make it useful and there is a fundamental difference in programming style between an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi (as noted above, this may not be quite so true of a Pi Pico). The Raspberry Pi runs an operating system, Linux, which is designed to allow it to do multiple things at once. This is pretty much the same as your laptop running Windows - you can have the email reader, web browser and word processor open simultaneously, read an email, research something on the web and write your conclusions in a document, all at the same time. That works fine for those programs - you don't notice of there is a fraction of a second delay in processing a key stroke while you are typing up a document. But it may be very serious for other applications - I'm working on a Morse keyer at the moment and a small fraction of a second delay in response time can easily make the difference between a dot and a dash! I did look at the Raspberry Pi as a platform for my keyer, but soon came to the conclusion that it was just too difficult to be sure of getting the timing repeatable, so I went for the Arduino which runs your code directly with very predictable results.

    Take a look at - the web site of Anthony Good, K3NG. He's spent a lot of time ham radio projects running on the Arduino and they are very good! My keyer is based on his keyer project - he makes all his code freely available and I was able to take a copy and enhance it to meet my requirements. He has also developed a rotator controller and an auto-ATU - all Arduino based. I'm sure that the Pi Pico is able to do similar, but it has not been in production for very long and I suspect that there is less published knowledge on the subject. Where the Raspberry Pi does win is in complex applications where it can often replace a PC at a far lower price. The MFJ-1234 is a good example of the sort of thing that you can build with it...

    Martin (G8FXC)
    AA5BK and N3TGY like this.
  3. KN4LGM

    KN4LGM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Most Arduino's are C-based whereas Raspberry Pi's are Python-based. Python is a much easier programing language and as you already have other Raspberry Pi's you might have experience with it. Because of this, I would get the Raspberry Pi. However, you may want to consider that this is coming for someone who hates C so I am biased.:)
    N3TGY likes this.
  4. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    THREE CHEERS FOR old longtime hams & their children.

    ardunio for ham radio.jpg

    73 es have fun wid all ur new projects.

    PU2OZT, AA5BK and N3TGY like this.
  5. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Arduino is better-suited for interfacing with the outside world, and driving LEDs, etc... directly. The I/O pins on the Pi are pretty anemic, and require external devices to drive more than one LED, or interface with 5-volt TTL devices. The Pi has way more computing power, and is really cool, but overkill for many projects.

    Start with the Arduino, blink some LEDs, play with some LCD displays, interface with some external devices (temperature / humidity sensor, GPS, etc...).
    YO3GFH, N3TGY and VE3CGA like this.
  6. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    that book has some great projects and as mentioned the arduino is great for stand alone projects like a keyer, monitoring voltages, switches or the many sensors that connect to it. All the inputs can be programmed to control or automate some output.
    The PI from my understanding loads an operating system such as linux and has more abilities like that a laptop would have.
    Probably still connect to sensors etc and control outputs.

    The arduino project open a new and great way to experience electronics. I've built a K3NG tracking rotor system, made an autostart controller for the standby generator, a charging supply for up to 12 sla batteries, a wifi antenna remote switcher and am planning for a wifi camera thats tripped from an outdoor detector of some kind.
    The boards are cheap and the sensor modules or output modules as well as quite varied. I bought from amazon and continue as needed.
    If you are going the ardiono path I'd suggest a mega board. It will handle more IO and memory applications than the UNO which is still good.
    Theres so much info, code and projects out there it can be time consuming surfing all that, but remember its also ment for kids or students.
    If you have some electronic parts - resistors, caps, relays, transistors they can be useful for small projects.
    N3TGY likes this.
  7. KC3TEC

    KC3TEC Ham Member QRZ Page

    arduinos are more of a micro controller device while the pi's are a micro computer
    arduinos are better suited for automated control and conditional reporting,
    and wrting programs for the arduino is done in the c language.
    while the Pi's use an operating system they can do multiprocessing functions within a limited scope as compared to a full fledged pc system
    an arduino can only run one program at a time ( much like an allan bradley slc or other slc /plc system)
    the biggest benefit of an arduino is that it can be daisy chained to other arduinos in a cascade tree to run multiple process at high speed
    its only limited to the speed of the communication network
    but they can also be controlled by relay outputs from any other computer including Pi's
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  8. N3TGY

    N3TGY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks to you all for helping me out, I'm really excited to jump into this, I should have identified what the Raspberry Pico is , the Pico is a microcontroller similar to the Arduino , it's very new in the field , I think that Arduino and Raspberry is going to go into a partnership in the near future , from some of the articles I read. Here's a look at the Raspberry Pico -
  9. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The OP prompted me to look more carefully at the Pi Pico - and it is quite impressive. I shall order a couple and do some experimentation - possibly try porting some parts of the keyer functionality to one. The Arduino Mega 2560 does a good job in most respects, but I have implemented the CW decoder function and the little Arduino really does not have the clock speed to handle that well. The Pico is dual-core so I probably could dedicate one core to the decode and get improved DSP...

    Thanks for making me look at it more closely!

    Martin (G8FXC)
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  10. N3TGY

    N3TGY Ham Member QRZ Page

    it really is impressive, I think I'm going to get both because the Pico is inexpensive. this is why I've been on the fence trying to decide what boards I'd like to buy, I'm excited to see what the two companies have for later release working together. from everyone's recommendations I'm going to get a start-up kit and add the Pico into the kit. thank you all for your kind assistance! I really appreciate you all for the help , 73 de N3TGY

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