The Raspberry Pi is a versatile single-board computer that can be used in Internet of Things and robotics projects. It is cheap, powerful, and well-supported. But, due to various reasons, you might not always have a Raspberry Pi handy to test your project ideas. That’s where a Raspberry Pi simulator comes in.
To make your choice easier, we have examined five of these simulators, their features, pricing, and their pros and cons.
What Is a Simulator?
A Raspberry Pi simulator allows you to test out projects without using an actual, physical Raspberry Pi. This can save you money, time, and effort.
The Raspberry Pi and the various electronic components in your project are represented digitally. Some of these simulators have a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to add and remove components easily. With a Raspberry Pi simulator, you can run projects as simple as blinking an LED or as complex as sensor-based projects.
A simulator differs from emulating a Raspberry Pi because you get to experiment with a representation of the hardware, rather than the Raspberry Pi operating system.
Reasons to Use a Raspberry Pi Simulator
A simulator has several advantages that can be useful in your electronics project.
- A Raspberry Pi simulator helps you work outside your budget. You can add expensive components and operate on a larger scale than you would normally be able to.
- Should you get stumped during the process of iterating, a simulator will help you look at the problem in a completely different way. Also, since it is entirely digital, you can share your designs with your friends/colleagues to take a look at the problem with a fresh pair of eyes.
- Simulators also allow developers who don’t have access to hardware or resources needed for testing purposes but still have an idea they want to implement right away.
- Modification is simple and painless with a simulator. You can switch out a component or add a new one with a click of a button. If you use a simulator, you don’t have to worry about things going haywire, such as having a dead Raspberry Pi on your hands or starting a small fire.
Best Simulators for the Raspberry Pi
Now that you know what a simulator does and why you may want to use one, which simulator should you actually download? Here are four of your best options.
Microsoft Azure is one of the three most popular cloud computing platforms. It hosts a collection of Internet of Things solutions that are collectively referred to as Microsoft Azure IoT. This includes a Raspberry Pi simulator that you can connect to your Azure IoT Hub.
The three main areas in the simulator are the assembly area, the coding area, and the integrated console window. You can add a string of code that allows the simulated Raspberry Pi to send messages to your IoT Hub.
Creating an IoT Hub requires you to have a Microsoft Azure account. There are four different pricing tiers, starting with the Developer plan at $29 per month.
This simulator is still being developed, and that’s why the assembly area is locked in preview mode. Currently, all you have to work with is a BME280 humidity sensor and an LED, but this is likely to change in the future. You can easily learn the process of connecting the simulator to an Azure IoT Hub by reading Microsoft documentation.
Wokwi is a simulation platform created by Uri Shaked that allows you to simulate IoT projects in the cloud. Wokwi is capable of simulating microcontrollers such as Arduino, ESP32, and the Raspberry Pi Pico. Also, it is completely free. If you are interested in making projects for the Pico, you should definitely give this tool a try.
Most of the Raspberry Pi Pico’s peripherals are already simulated. You can add components such as LEDs, buzzers, OLED and LCDs, motion sensors, potentiometers, and even a keypad. You can share links to your projects easily, allowing others to see what you have made and build on your design.
Currently, this web application only simulates the Raspberry Pi Pico and other microcontrollers. If you want to simulate the Raspberry Pi single-board computers, consider the other options on this list.
LED projects are a dime a dozen. Adding a Raspberry Pi can help to make things more interesting. Be sure to check out our guide on how to control LEDs with your Raspberry Pi.
Wyliodrin Studio is an open-source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that works on Linux, Windows, Ubuntu, and macOS systems and is available for free download. It is also available as a Chrome browser extension and provides a number of solutions for IoT and embedded systems development.
Wyoliodrin Studio is completely free. It works online and offline, meaning you can work on your projects anywhere and anytime. It also allows you to import and export projects which can make collaboration with others easier. Apart from Raspberry Pi, Wyolidrin Studio supports Arduino, BeagleBone Black, and UDOO Neo.
The Proteus Design Suite includes a Visual Designer that allows you to simulate Arduino and Raspberry Pi systems. This product includes a flowchart editor and a peripheral gallery you can choose breakout boards from. You can build your embedded projects right in Visual Designer through the intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. It also works offline, which can be helpful when you don’t have internet access.
Proteus does not emulate the entire Raspberry Pi computer. It only simulates the necessary processes to run embedded projects. You can either choose to use the flowchart editor to create your programs or write them in Python. Some of the digital breakout boards included in this simulator are a buzzer breakout board, the Raspberry Pi camera module, LEDs, a TFT display, GPIO Expander, and a piezo sounder breakout board.
This simulator is one of the most versatile on this list as it includes most of the features you will need to get your projects up and running. It is worth noting that the cheapest plan starts at $248, but this is a one-time payment.
Using a Raspberry Pi Simulator
Simulators can come in handy when you need to test project ideas, but they are not intended to be replacements for the actual device. Some simulators actually cost more than the Raspberry Pi itself, making them unfeasible for small-scale projects.
That said, simulators can open up a whole new world of embedded electronics to you. It is up to you to choose the Raspberry Pi simulator that matches your budget, needs, and preferences. Happy Making!
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