An old software question of mine looks like it would benefit from some hardware.

Basically, I have a web page and want it to communicate via HTTP to a small controller, which will read a string from the serial port and return it to the browser.

Don’t worry about the software, I can handle that. I am wondering which hardware to use, and would like to keep the price down.

The requirements are simple enough. The device needs to be able to read from serial port, and it needs to be able to receive HTTP requests - I don’t care how. I don’t really need an operating system, certainly not a full blown one, but I do need to be able to run a web server, to handle the HTTP request.

I was thinking Raspberry PI, but am one to other solutions if they are cheaper and if they are as simple to code. I can buy in quantities of a dozen up to maybe 100, if it offers a decent discount.

[Update] I also need a dozen or two GPIO pins


  • Raspberry Pi 3, plus RS232 hat
  • Raspberry Pi Zer0, plus RS232 hat and Wifi or Ethernet (will also need a USB hub)
  • Netduino, plus RS232 shield

Long term availability of the device might play a role. E.g maybe not use Pi2, in case it gets phased out. Widely available support , via forums, would be good, although the project is so simple that I don’t envisage needing any help.

Which of these., or an alternative, can do what I want, with an emphasis on cost, but also balancing other terms? Hmmm, I probably want to put it into a case, preferably IP 67 compliant.

[Update] I am also considering:

Although I am not sure how compatible they might be with Raspberry Pi peripherals

  • 1
    I would suggest trying this same question over at raspberrypi.stackexchange.com Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 13:48
  • Could be a good idea (+1). Maybe will, if not help here. But I wanted to consider other possibilities, before declaring R Pi by fiat.
    – Mawg
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 16:39
  • 2
    I will do some poking around, after I get my Japanese course work done that is.....just a bit behind due to this site taking over my life.....SE needs an addiction warning. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 16:55
  • Ha ha ha ha!! On consideration, it I was sure that I wanted a Raspberry Pi, I could simply Google & compare prices. I would like to hear if anyone recommends something different, like Arduino, or just plain Atmel, etc
    – Mawg
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 18:14
  • How cheap is cheap? There's pretty capable sub 200 USD industrial PCs that would fit the bill Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


Check this board "atmega328" with serial port around $2 / without serial port $1.5 on aliexpress enter image description here

A wireless shield will cost you around 1.5$ also on aliexpress Or this little guy ESP8266 the newer one for $1.70

Here is a project about ESP8266

enter image description here RFID reader around $1.70, 6 DATA PINS and 2 for VCC, GND from here

  • There are quite a few atmega328XX - which are you recommending? A full product name for both would eb nice, or, even better, a link. Btw, I have added an update to say that I also need a dozen or two GPIO pins - would this board still be acandicate?
    – Mawg
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 7:47
  • 1
    What about telling me for what exactly you want it for! so I can give you better answer! There is other things you should consider like the chip memory and the serial port speed, and what language you will use! "I can buy in quantities of a dozen up to maybe 100" I can design custom one if you want.
    – Narzan Q.
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 12:24
  • 1
    Okay with serial port you don't need WIFI shield! easy setup, but with WIFI shield you need a PC or Clint! you can't make a webpage connect to your board without a static IP address and you should open port inside your router to communicate with your boards, if you want to mange all these devices on your LAN network you can use other ways to a accomplish that. anyway I will edit my answer and I will add some links and info.
    – Narzan Q.
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 18:53
  • 1
    I don't know how you will manage to make your web-page to communicate with your device, anyway you can find a lot of RFID reader on aliexpress around $2 depends on the pins, the cheap one will use 8 PINS while the expensive one 4PINS only. and about your other question, I don't think there is RFID with WIFI and and a controller on the same board and cheap in the market. I added RFID to my answer
    – Narzan Q.
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 20:14
  • 1
    I think that the device must have a static 192.178.xxx.xxx or 10.xxx.xxx.xxx address. Even then, I need to think about it. Should probably work if I insist that the PC also have a fixed address in the same subnet (in addition to any others, e.g. dynamic from ISP). Thanks for the update on your answer. You have been extremely helpful
    – Mawg
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 21:39

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