What is the best hardware to learn IoT programming? – Stacey on IoT

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In our latest IoT podcast episode, we answer a question Brent left on our IoT voicemail hotline. He wants to learn how to code some IoT projects. Brent is familiar with Arduino and Raspberry Pi products, but wonders if there’s anything new in this space.

Right off the bat, I’d say you can’t go wrong with a recent Arduino or Raspberry Pi for IoT programming. In fact, the two products look more and more alike over time.

Image courtesy of Raspberry Pi

Arduino microcontrollers have long been ideal for coupling small processing tasks with sensors. Raspberry Pi boards have always been full-fledged computers, but small in size. Recently, the Raspberry Pico W was released, which is more like an Arduino board with built-in Wi-Fi support. And the Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 adds typical computer inputs to its microcontroller, such as HDMI and camera support.

To make the best choice, we think it’s wise to first determine what kind of device Brent wants to build. If it’s just to read data from a simple wired sensor, an Arduino board will do. But a use case that requires more processing power, like some type of machine learning project, would be better suited with a Raspberry Pi. Figuring out what you want to build can help you focus on deciding which material.

I use both product lines and choose based on what I want to code or learn.

To better understand computer architecture at a very low level, with machine code, it makes sense to use an Arduino. When I built a simple web-based IoT project for ambient notifications, I opted for a Raspberry Pi. Using Python code, some APIs, and a LIFX light bulb, I was able to see if the price of Bitcoin was up or down depending on the color of the light.

Stacey brings up a good point that there are other options in the form of development boards with their own SDKs or SDKs. The Nordic Thingy:53 is a perfect example and costs around $50.

Image courtesy of Nordic Semi

Besides some computing capabilities, this hardware supports Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Zigbee and proprietary 2.4 GHz protocols. This makes it perfect for all wireless projects, including those that would support the new Matter standard.

To hear Brent’s question, as well as our discussion on the topic in full, tune in to the IoT podcast below:

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