At first glance, the Raspberry Pi is a fairly unassuming piece of tech. It appears to be little more than a credit card-sized circuit board. Yet, with a few tweaks and additional components, this little computer has limitless capabilities. For just a few dollars, you can make anything from a weather monitoring system to a retro gaming console.
As you learn the ins and outs of the Pi, you can move on to more advanced projects using your own equipment instead of pre-built kits. For now, we’ve rounded up a list of nine awesome projects that beginners and seasoned tech enthusiasts alike can enjoy putting together without spending much time or money.
Many people consider a Virtual Private Network a must for browsing the internet in this day and age. Using your Raspberry Pi as your very own VPN server is especially useful when connecting to public Wi-Fi, as it will encrypt your personal data and create a secure connection so that your privacy remains intact.
Smart Home Control Panel
These days, everyone and their mother is buying into smart home tech. Whether it’s a Nest surveillance kit, a smart kitchen appliance, an Amazon Alexa, Apple Home speaker, or smart heating system… the list goes on. These useful pieces of tech make life around the house easier and more fun.
The only challenge is creating a central system to control all of these electronics instead of tediously going from app to app. Fortunately, the Raspberry Pi is here to save the day. With a few connectivity components, some open-source software and a bit of DIY know-how, you can create a smart home control panel of your own.
With some Arduino microcontrollers, Glediator software, a bit of innovation and, of course, a Raspberry Pi, hobbyist Vincent Deconinck has turned an IKEA table into an interactive LED light show. It’s a fun and versatile project with limitless possibilities. In Deconinck’s case, he turned his into a game of Tetris.
Retro Gaming Console
If you want to play much, much more than just Tetris with your Raspberry Pi, you can turn it into a full-fledged retro gaming console with nothing more than a premade kit. The Vilros Raspberry Pi 3 Retro Arcade gaming kit comes with everything you need to load up your favorite games from the past.
This includes a fittingly retro case, two gaming controllers, connectivity cables, heatsinks, HDMI cord, and a helpful booklet letting you know how to get started. Games can be loaded up on the included 32GB MicroSD card and 8GB flash drive, giving you more storage space than you’ll ever need.
For tech enthusiasts who want to make something truly special, you can use your Raspberry Pi to create a full-fledged binary clock with a modern twist. Using a 64 LED expansion board called Unicorn Hat, you can display the current time in binary code, as well as the year, month and day. Not too shabby.
Private Cloud Service
Worried about the privacy of your personal data being compromised by cloud services? Would you prefer to have more control over the server and your files? The Raspberry Pi is once again your answer. You can make your own personal cloud server through a handy software known as ownCloud.
Combined with the Raspberry Pi camera module, the Dride can act as a dashboard cam with built-in Alexa skills. It’s made using open-source software and connects to a mobile app on your smartphone to upload footage to a cloud server. This has many benefits over a standard dash cam aside, from being much cheaper.
For example, the Dride is capable of capturing license plates and will sound a warning if you’re swerving or in danger of colliding. You can even sync it up with services such as Spotify and Google Maps. You can also perform hands-free text messaging, making your commute safer.
The Pix-E combines the Pi camera module with a custom-built battery pack and shutter to make a disposable camera capable of creating animated GIFs. It uses software tools such as GraphicsMagick, GifCam, and PiCamera to create homemade GIFs that you can easily share or print onto the included paper wrappers.
There are many streaming boxes available with Kodi, but you can make your own one for less with the Pi. It’s as simple as loading an operating system called OMSC (which has Kodi pre-installed) onto a MicroSD card via the installer on your computer. Add in a Wi-Fi adapter, the included smartphone remote and presto – your own streaming box.
These are just a fraction of the countless projects that you can create with the Raspberry Pi today. Don’t hesitate to give Google a good search and you’ll be surprised by what people have achieved using this little computer. With enough experience, you could be creating the next great innovation for the Pi.