BBC Micro:bit vs Arduino vs Raspberry Pi

So, what's the difference?

BBC Micro:bit vs Arduino vs Raspberry Pi by Tech Will Save Us

With the BBC launching a million free micro:bits to children in year 7 all over Britain, now is the perfect time to get the nitty-gritty on what it is and how it is different to some of the other pocket-sized boards out there.

First up: what is the difference between a microcomputer and a microcontroller.

microcomputer has an interface that you can access by plugging it into a monitor of some kind, even a television. A microcontroller has no interface, you write a program on a computer and upload just the code to the board. It has the capacity to store and run only one program at a time, but can be reprogrammed as many times as you like.

Ok, so now we have got that cleared up, let’s lets have a quick round-up of our 3 favourites so that you can tell your pis from your micros.

The Arduino has been around since 2005 and is our most used microcontroller at Tech Will Save Us. It is at the heart of the Gamer Kit, and is the driving force behind one of my favourite easy makes, the DIY Water Bomb Plant Watering System. It is a microcontroller that has a loyal and supportive community behind it, so editing existing code shared online makes prototyping new projects quick and easy.

The BBC micro:bit is a small palm-sized microcontroller that has enough features to get any teenager into coding and making. 25 LED matrix screen, 2 buttons, compass, accelerometer and Bluetooth. As well as this, it has 3 PINs so that you can connect to external inputs and outputs like thermometers, lights and buzzers. The LED matrix can even be programmed to act as a light sensor. This is a ‘My First Micro:controller” that neatly bridges the gap between screen-based block coding, like Scratch, and programming physical projects. We have turned it into a pocket pet with the most voluminous Sugru hair.

If you’re not an 11-year-old who goes to school in the UK, chances are you won’t be receiving a BBC micro:bit for a while. Still interested in the world of programmable electronics? Check out our Gamer Kit, it’s the perfect introduction to the world of Arduino.