Raspberry Pi is small credit card sized, light weight and compact computer available which is used by both professions, hobbyist and of course hackers alike. This mini computer can do (almost) any thing a normal linux machine can do. It is widely used in various industries, robotics, home automation projects.
Raspberry Pi 3 B + is the latest version of Raspberry Pi series. The specs of Raspberry Pi is shown below
- 1.4 GHz 64 bit quad core ARM Cortex A53 CPU
- Dual band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless support
- Faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0)
- (POE) Power Over Ethernet support
- Improved PXE network and USB mass storage booting
- Improved Thermal Management
But the real question is, do you really need a Raspberry Pi 3 for your project? Some times you will need just a simple Command Line Interface of a linux system to setup a small server for home use or a home automation system. Sometimes all you need to do is drive a motor of your robot or turn On an LED. In such cases, it is always better to go for cheap raspberry pi alternatives than spending 35$ on Raspberry Pi 3.
Based on a survey conducted by RootSaid, we have got a list of latest and most commonly used micro controllers and processor boards, which are used by hobbyists and
Here are the list of best and Cheap Raspberry Pi Alternatives 2018 along with the purchase link.
Cheap Raspberry Pi Alternatives 2018
If you are here, reading this post, you should have heard the word ‘arduino’ at least once in your life. So what is arduino? Arduino is an open source platform focussed on easy to use electronics hardware and software. Arduino is worlds most widely used microcontroller boards among students, professionals and hobbyist due to low price and simple and accessible user experience. Arduino boards are really cheap and easy to use. It have a cross platform IDE (runs on Windows, Linux and MAC) which have a simple and lightweight programming environment.This IDE is open source and can be expanded by adding C++ libraries. There is no doubt that Arduino boards can be cheap raspberry pi alternatives in the field of robotics and home automation.
Below are the most commonly used Arduino Boards.
Uno is the most widely used micro controller board that you can start playing with if you are a beginner. Arduino uno is powered by ATMEGA 328P and has 14 Digital IO pins and 6 analog pins. It have a USB port wchich can be attached to a computer for easy upload of programs. You can do anything you want with this board because worst thing that could happen is you chip getting fried, which by the way can be replaced for a few dollars.
This board is good for making small – medium sized robots such as line followers, light following robots, maze solvers and other hobby projects like light sensors, GSM integration etc.
Need more pins? Go for arduino Mega. Arduino Mega is powerful micro controller board based on Atmega1280. This one has 54 digital IO pins (of which 14 are Pulse Width Modulated signal outputs), 16 analog pins, 4 hardware serial ports (2 TX RX pairs) clocked by a 16 MHz crystal oscillator. This one also has a USB connector which can be directly connected to a computer for uploading programs.
If you are using projects that requires more number of GPIO pins like a hexapod, octapod or large LED Cube, then this is the board for you.
This one has same specs as that of UNO but is much smaller and compact. Unlike arduino UNO, nano doesn’t have a DC power jack, and it works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard USB cable.One advantage is, this board is breadboard friendly, which means it can be connected to a bread board and easily connect components and sensors to it.
This one is compact, light weight and can be enclosed in tiny boxes and containers, which makes it suitable for compact and tiny robots. Due to its light weight, it is most commonly used in drones, aeroplanes, helicopters and other aerial robots.
Arduino MKR GSM 1400
Arduino MKR GSM 1400 is the latest member of arduino family. There is a reason why I included this new member to this list. This board has an awesome feature that all other micro controller boards lacks till now. This board support wireless connectivity using GSM 3G network which is widening the scope of IOT development for hackers and hobbyists. This board enables people who are not much experienced in the field of networking to build their own IOT projects.
This one can be used in all IOT projects which can be deployed on remote areas with GSM connectivity to gather information from the sensors like weather data by reading data from humidity sensor or rain detector. This can also be used to control robots in a remote location.
Raspberry Pi Zero W
The first Raspberry Pi Zero is only half the size of a Model A+, a tiny Raspberry Pi that’s affordable enough for any hobbyist project. The only problem was that, for network connectivity, you will need an external USB WiFi adapter or Ethernet converter.
The new Raspberry Pi Zero ‘W’ solve this connectivity issue by employing an inbuilt WiFi and Bluetooth chipset. We can easily connect this board to a network using GUI or CLI and easily build your project.
Even though the processing power is a bit lower than Raspberry Pi 3, this board can handle smaller projects in robotics and hobby circuits. It can also acts as a wireless server or a torrent client.
Orange Pi 2G IOT
This year, Orange Pi come out with their own board competing with Raspberry Pi Zero W. The new Orange Pi 2G-IoT have an 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth along with a 2G Mobile Radio module for 2G cellular connectivity.
This is a fully functioning linux machine similar to that of raspberry pi with less processing power and cheaper rate. You can run Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian and Raspbian OS in it. You can use it as a wireless server, games, entertainment etc and so, the Orange pi boards can be considered as cheap raspberry pi alternatives.
The micro:bit is based on nRF51822 micro-controller, which includes an inbuilt Bluetooth Low Energy chipset. On top of the board, there are mainly 2 buttons which can be used for programming as well as other functions such as games, sending messages, activation of display etc. It also have an inbuild accelerometer and magnetometer chips can detect motion as well as the direction you it is moving.
Another board in cheap raspberry pi alternatives list is the ‘CHIP’. CHIP is a single board board computer, targeting hobbyists as well as professionals. The board is powered by SoC processor R8 and integrates an ARM CortexTM-A8 CPU and peripherals, such as Graphic Engine, UART, SPI, USB port, CIR, CMOS Sensor Interface and LCD controller.
This one is similar to Raspberry Pi zero W. You can use it as a server, in robotics and for entertainment. One of the cheap raspberry pi alternatives you can online.