Can we use Raspberry Pi 4 for IoT Projects?

The term IoT, which is the Internet of Things, has been a common term in the IT industry in the past couple of years. The IoT in simple words refers to anything associated with the Internet, which is how it originated. But the IoT isn’t new; people are now accessing devices with the internet.

Why is Raspberry Pi an apt choice for IoT Applications?

Of course, you know what Raspberry Pi is, right? The RPi is a set of single-board computers that can be used for multiple purposes, such as a general-purpose computer, a robot, or even to connect IoT devices. RPI could be connected to any display. It’s a powerful tiny device that can be used to teach learners how to code in languages like bash or Python. It can perform almost any task that users can think of for a computer. Furthermore, RPi is also known to connect to the outside world.

What is IoT?

IoT refers to the use of the internet to connect devices such as cars, electronic gadgets, and other household items. It entails enhancing network connectivity further than usual technology such as laptops and smartphones to a wide variety of non-internet-enabled devices and things we use daily. A device that is incorporated with the network can now interact with other devices via the Internet, and you can monitor and control it remotely.

The Internet of Things operates on the basis of 4 main elements.

  1. Sensors – It gathers the information to the environment. The gathered datas can be as basic as temp monitoring or as complicated as a video feed. Many sensors are allowed on one device. Global positioning system, recording device, and detectors are just a few of the sensors available. Additionally, it changes some physical phenomena into an electric signal.
  2. Connectivity – Next, the data was delivered to the cloud by way of a specific transport. That means, the sensor is linked with the cloud via a variety of communication mediums, including wi-fi, satellite networks, bluetooth, WAN, and many more.
  3. Data processing – when all the necessary information is gathered, it is moved to the cloud, where it is processed by the software. This can range from checking device temp to object recognition.
  4. User interface – Following that, the data is given to the users. To this end, alerts, messages, and e-mails are the best approaches. When two devices are present, then actuators are utilized.

In an IoT network, a single device may contain both sensors and actuators, or both processor and actuators, or both sensors and processors, or all of the above. 

Here are some examples of IoT, including Google Maps, Smart Homes, and Driverless Cars.

What can Raspberry Pi 4 Do?

The newest version of the RPi computer is the RPi 4 Model B. It’s different from other devices and is similar to a computer or laptop but smaller. It costs $35, but the 4GB/8GB RAM version is much better due to its increased performance.

The RPi 4 is capable of incredible things. Professionals commonly use it to create media centers, file servers, vintage gaming consoles, and internet ad blockers. That is only a glimpse of what it can do.

Countless internet-based projects are already utilizing the Raspberry Pi to create tablets, laptops, robots, and smart mirrors, and they are only at the beginning of their journey. The performance of the Raspberry Pi 4 allows developers to create new applications that decode 4K video, store data faster on USB 3.0 drives, and connect to the internet through Gigabit ethernet. Furthermore, the Raspberry Pi is the first to officially support dual [email protected] screens.

Raspberry Pi 4, IoT and Wireless Connectivity

Wireless technology is the heart of all IoT networks and it is what caused the expansion of IoT in the first place. On the RPi 4, you get 802.11ac WiFi with Bluetooth 5.0, whereas on earlier models, you only got 802.11ac WiFi. Because the RPi has both WiFi and Bluetooth embedded on the same chipset, it supports BLE. The specific chipset supported differs based on the board.

Every Raspberry Pi model runs Linux and thus makes use of some Bluetooth stack. Open source and BlueZ have been around for several years, and while it provides both Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy, its support for BLE is new, and as a result, there are some restrictions and occasionally bugs. If you’re considering launching BlueZ, you must absolutely thoroughly test it in a practical application.

The Ethernet port now has greater bandwidth, allowing it to give a complete gigabit of data rate. The RPi 4 B’s Ethernet port recorded 943 Mbps in test results which is way better than the other models.

Almost all RPi have 802.11AC WiFi that can operate on 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands. Therefore, we were not very hopeful about how much difference we would see. However, the 5GHz bandwidth on the RPi 4 is way greater, with a rate of 114Mbps, which is 18% better than on the RPi 3 B+.

The Role of GPIO Pins

RPi GPIO pins are made to connect your Pi to additional hardware or external electronics to expand your project. Just like a Linux pc, an RPi did almost nothing aside from performing basic Linux tasks.

To meet your need, the GPIO was introduced to enable the addition of new electronics, which provides more functionality. You can also connect additional sensors such as light, temp, and humidity sensors to the RPi, then it will interpret and process the data via the GPIO to have a sense of your surroundings. Interested in robot mounting and driving some motors? Set up an IMU and a motor driver shield for the Raspberry Pi, and it will get your robot running in no time.

Awesome things you can do with Raspberry Pi 4

Why is GPIO Pin Important for IoT?

Essentially, the GPIOs give your Raspberry Pi the ability to do more based on what is connected to it.

The pin is a little bit different for each model, but it is usually classified into three categories: power, ground, and general-purpose pins. The general purpose pins are the only programmable pins. Power is supplied through the power pin with 3.3-5V while the ground pin is used to hook up to the circuit’s ground.

You can use these general-purpose pins in an output or input configuration. Output mode means that the pins supply a steady 3.3V power to the device and you can turn it on or off. When in input mode, the pen sends a boolean value that indicates whether it’s getting 3.3V power.

Interestingly, the RPi 4 has enhanced some of the pins with extra features. Additionally, the GPIO pins already support four new I2C, SPI, and UART connections for those who want to set up an advanced, multiple-peripheral-connected project. In this case, you now have more of these interfaces to work with.

Connecting Raspberry Pi and OutSide World

Sensors and GPIO

Sensors are input devices that the Raspberry Pi can connect to. It may collect information about the environment, for example, on the conditions of light or temp, but it works basically in the same way as the button: it supplies the Pi with different inputs depending on the external condition.

Additional sensors may be added to pins, whether as individual GPIO pin-connected components or via a Hardware Added on Top (HAT).

Cotrolling Outside World using Output

Controlling outputs makes it possible to switch nearly anything on and off. As a result, you may turn things on and off via the internet, almost anywhere in the world, using any device, whether it’s a laptop, a mobile device, or an iPad. You can also use Bluetooth or other short-range options for short-range control.

Coding Raspberry Pi for IoT Projects

Raspberry Pi boards are designed for newbies and advanced users, making it easy for both groups to get started in the world of real-time electronics control. Python is an ideal first language to learn when programming RPi, especially if you’re new. Users can understand the language quite easily if they just read.

Python is an awesome language that you can use in Raspberry pi 4 for IoT applications. Writing codes and running Python programs on the raspberry pi is like a piece of cake. Python comes with built-in HTTP and MQTT IOT protocol libraries which you can use to quickly implement new IoT applications. Therefore, developing Raspberry pi 4 for IoT applications on the RPi is quite simple.

But, What about the Cost?

Assembled into a single System on a Chip (SoC); RAM, GPU, CPU, and peripheral controllers are cheaper per unit because of this. They are not highly efficient in today’s era, making them suitable for prototyping and personal projects as well as offering a comfortable and more knowledgeable experience than an Arduino board. To further reduce the cost of production, all of the software including the operating system and device drivers is based on open source foundations.

Raspberry Pi as IoT Gateway

The ultra-fast connectivity of Raspberry Pi provides it with the ability to act as an internet gateway. Raspberry pi 4 for IoT projects is fairly easy when you include it with other sensors. Raspberry Pi 4 for IoT (Internet of Things) is widely employed in projects due to the incorporation of a microcontroller for processing data, the use of WiFi to transmit that data to the cloud, and the integration of actuators for control purposes. Creative minds worldwide prefer using Raspberry pi 4 for IoT projects.

Why Not use Arduino?

Two platforms that are particularly suited for creating projects are Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Although other choices exist, the most common ones are the ones mentioned here.  RPI and Arduino are the most used boards in electronics DIY projects and some expert applications. But these two boards are entirely different. How? Lets see.

With its accessible software and hardware, Arduino is an easy prototyping platform with fully accessible features. Arduino is basically a microcontroller development board, making it possible to use an LED to blink, recognize button inputs, interpret sensor information, control motors, and so on.

Arduino or Raspberry Pi for IoT
Arduino Uno

The Arduino is best used for fast program development and circuit prototyping, while the Raspberry Pi is best used for computer programming learning. RPI is also used in many projects. While each board is advantageous in certain ways, it may have some shortcomings.

In contrast to the Raspberry Pi, the processor in the RPi have more processing power and supports more features, including OS like Linux and of course Python. This makes it easier for Python scripts to use existing libraries and construct complex devices.

Arduino or Raspberry Pi for IoT Projects?

Arduino is a microcontroller-based development board, while the RPi is a microprocessor-based board that functions as a computer. 

In the case of Raspberry Pi, multiple peripherals such as a monitor (via HDMI or AV), mouse and keyboard (via USB), and internet access (via Ethernet or WiFi) can all be included in your project. RPI is not very different from computers.

The Raspberry Pi is like a complete computer that can run an operating system. The RPi Foundation is the one who is creating and building the Raspberry Pi SBC. The Raspberry Pi OS is a variant of Debian. In regards to being a Linux-based computer, Raspberry Pi is an excellent development platform for several programming languages, including C, C++, Python, Java, and HTML.

Should you use Arduino or Raspberry Pi for IoT Projects?
Different Types of Arduino Boards for IoT Projects

Even though the initial Raspberry Pi SBC was built to encourage computer programming in schools, it has now become incredibly popular with do-it-yourself builders, creators, and enthusiasts who use it to develop robotics, personal security systems, and most important of all, IoT.

Because of the success and fame of Raspberry Pi, the RPi Foundation is continually changing and launching new models, the most recent of which is the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B.

Main Advantages of using Raspberry Pi for IoT

The Raspberry Pi is an exceptionally useful device due to its:

  1. The list of languages using which it can connect to the internet is remarkable. Some widely used programming languages like Python, Java, and JavaScript are all compatible with the Raspberry Pi. It can also work as standalone server for smart home automation.
  1. The RPi’s GPIO pins allow sensors to be directly attached, making it highly efficient in system deployment.
  1. It is a cheap and full-featured device with a Linux OS.

Will Raspberry Pi 4 Replace Desktop Machines?

Although a $55 computer probably won’t be as powerful as a $1000 desktop machine, it still might provide some of the machine’s essential features despite its size. We built a PC on the RPi 4 and tested it for a week to see how effective it was. And here’s what I discovered.

Raspberry Pi 4 and IoT – Conclusion

Assume you have a box in your hand that has the power of a computer the size of a credit card. Now, this computation power is going to be used to power IoT devices. You can attach sensors to GPIO and of course, it will receive all the data. Because of the high computational power, this device can perform the analysis of sensor data. Additionally, the latest builds have WiFi and Bluetooth, so that you can transfer the data to the cloud wirelessly. It has all the things needed to build IoT devices. This is the best small-sized package available.

Raspberry Pi as WFH PC
Raspberry Pi 4

The RPi 4 comes with an onboard WiFi and Bluetooth chipset, allowing you to link to the wifi and share or transmit data. This gives an edge over Arduino, which requires an ESP8266 for net access.

You can also connect it to a router with a network connection so that you can use port forwarding to remotely control it. With other microcontrollers, this will be hard.

The internet is a necessary component for all IoT applications, so having easy internet access and removing the need for a separate wifi interface cuts down on code complexity.

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