Raspberry Pi: After spending some time exploring Arduino I wanted to learn about Raspberry Pi, which I had imagined to be similar to Arduino. Both have convenient physical interfaces—well-documented input/output pins. What is called a “shield” in the Arduino world is alternatively a “plate” for Pi. On first encountering these terms I thought they stood for the same essential thing. That was an oversimplification, and not my only misconception.

    Pi and Arduino are different concepts. First, Raspberry Pi is a computer with an operating system
(Debian Linux), while Arduino has only a program loader and basic I/O functions built-inno operating system, as such. This difference has broad implications. Arduino is a real-time device, while Raspberry Pi’s sophisticated OS manages resource sharing. Raspberry Pi applications are small fish in a big pond.

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    The fact that Raspberry Pi runs Linux has fantastic advantages, of course. I will return to this point, but my initial approach to exploring Pi was influenced by the earlier Arduino experiences. Both Arduino and Pi have SDA/SCL pins supporting serial I/O, so my first Pi exercise was an attempt to write text to a small LCD screen, similar to how the same would be done in Arduino. At this point I was working with a Pi 1 (26 GPIO pins). Source code for this exercise is here. This small test project includes one possibly interesting feature, namely a shutdown switch. With Arduino there is no harm in pulling the plug at any time, however, switching Pi off without proper OS shutdown could cause file system corruption. The program detects a button press from one of the GPIO pins, then shuts down via an os.system call.

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