10 Exciting ways to use your new Raspberry Pi
What can you do with your raspberry pi?
You heard the buzz, you got excited, and so you bought yourself a brand-new raspberry pi. Now comes the fun bit. The range of possibilities is almost endless, given the capabilities of a Raspberry Pi. To get you started, we’ll look at ten exciting ways to use your Raspberry Pi. We promise that these will be just the beginning of your adventure.
What makes this single-board computer special? A Raspberry Pi has four distinct advantages over many computers.
- Connects to real-world objects
It is these attributes that create so many possibilities for projects using your Raspberry Pi. There are great ideas all over the web. We love the twitter hashtag #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor – the sheer scale of imagination, technical capability, and pure fun is hard to beat.
There is also a world of pre-build and configurable software. Importantly, much of it is free and easy to use. Hardware add-ons range in price from a couple of dollars to the crazy expensive. Many Raspberry Pi enthusiasts take pride in recycling and upcycling old components to keep project costs low.
Let’s dive in with a nice, easy Raspberry PI project to get you started, and then we’ll look at some more complex possibilities.
1 – Use your Raspberry Pi as a desktop
There are several Raspberry Pi OS, browser, and productivity (office) suite options. Your Raspberry Pi makes a great low-cost desktop for browsing, homework, and more. Hooking up a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and printer are all quick and easy. There are some limitations, but for most day-to-day tasks, your Raspberry PI will do the job of desktop PC perfectly.
2 – Transform your Raspberry Pi into a media centre
A few components, and a few tweaks and your Raspberry Pi takes on the role of multimedia player and home entertainment hub. How far you go with this project is up to you. The basics of your media libraries to play on your TV, or a streamed service available through the web with separate family member accounts over AirPlay? You get to decide the scope of the project.
3 – Build a retro gaming system on Raspberry Pi
Check out Retropie or Cupcade (for an easy to use mini arcade feel). Alternatively, google Coffee Table Pi, and as you’ll see, the complexity and engineering are up to you. You will find all you need to allow you to build your personalised retro gaming system. With a few tweaks, you can emulate all your favourite games from 1970, the 1980s, and the 1990s. Miss Pacman never looked so good, and this guarantees limitless fun for all.
4 – Bring the future into your home with a Raspberry Pi Magic Mirror
Some of the coolest things you’ll see are recycled monitors and TVs transformed into high tech mirrors with the magic of Raspberry Pi. There will be some traditional DIY involved in this project. How much of the project is DIY and how much is Raspberry Pi is up to you. It will depend on how nice you want the finished product to look. Once you have the setup working, what you project through the mirror is limited only by your imagination. For example, facial recognition can allow personalised displays. This means when you look in the mirror, you could see, targeted just for you, news, weather, traffic, sports scores, stock tickers, the flight information of the planes above your head, the status of home automation, and so much more.
5 – Make your own Minecraft Server
Raspberry Pi is the perfect fit for a dedicated Minecraft server. There is a free customisable version of Minecraft called (of course) Minecraft Pi that is a great educational tool for novice programmers. Alternatively, you can get the full version of Minecraft running. Raspberry Pi will allow you to host your Minecraft friends on your personalised server. You can also use Raspberry Pi as a networked game server for many other titles, including Doom, FreeCiv, Windward, Terraria, and others.
6 – A nature camera trap to channel David Attenborough
Raspberry Pi’s ability to develop IoT capability can also be used to link motion sensors and cameras to capture wildlife in the most exciting ways. We particularly love this version, built with full solar-powered capability, streaming video, and light sensor monitors to ensure filming only took place in decent light conditions. The ability of Raspberry Pi in this area also lends itself to security cameras and other similar functions.
7 – Turn your old wired printer wireless
If you have a functioning USB printer lying around but want wireless functionality, Raspberry Pi will fit the bill perfectly. It is a simple project to add wireless capability to any printer. There are several free software options to help you. Fewer cables cluttering up your life, a printer saved form the scrap heap, and convenience for the whole family will make this project popular with everyone.
8 – Create a fun coding pathway for your kids
You can install Scratch on your Raspberry Pi. Scratch is an exceptionally fun tool that teaches people new to coding how to think like a coder. It allows them to create games using prebuilt commands that can be dragged and dropped in a routine. And once they get started, Raspberry Pi is the perfect platform for expanding their coding skills and capabilities as they catch the coding bug.
9 – Build a remote-controlled car
Raspberry Pi lends itself to the Internet of Things (IoT), and there are countless projects out there that showcase this capability. There is a range of radio-controlled cars, from simple cars controlled using a smartphone through to computer-controlled beasts with onboard cameras that pan and tilt for full user control. The scale of the engineering that you feel up to taking on is the only limit to where these projects can go.
10 – Create a DIY Bluetooth speaker bar
You can build a quality Bluetooth speaker using old recycled parts and a Raspberry Pi. One fabulous example cost under $15 and produces great sound, portability, and long battery life – The PartyBarTM can serve as your inspiration.
The world is full of possibilities with a Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi was created to give kids a pathway into coding. The reality has been so much more. The price point, capability, robustness, and interoperability of Raspberry Pi have meant use cases have exploded in many unseen directions.
The user community is decidedly open-source. This ethos has meant that sharing, add-on building, and collaboration have been at the centre of the Raspberry Pi story.
If you are just starting your Raspberry Pi journey, there is a world waiting for you. It is filled with quality resources, a wide range of software and hardware, and a helpful community. With those resources, you can use Raspberry Pi to build any projects you want.