5 of the best Raspberry Pi projects

The little computer that could

The Raspberry Pi, a credit-sized computer, was created so more children could learn computer science in school. At £25, the Pi also amassed a loyal fan base of modders, hackers, and tech junkies finding countless uses for the tiny and affordable computer. The latest addition to their line-up, the Raspberry Pi Zero, costs £4 and is only 65 mm long allowing all sorts of weird projects. We’ve already written about the cat flap that tweets. I’ve personally found lots of uses for my Raspberry Pi, from tweeting entire genomes to creating robots (it’s still under construction). There are some really creative Pi fanatics out there so we thought we’d share our favourite projects so far.

1. An actual R2-D2

Youtube user greenShell made what is probably the greatest birthday present of all time by building an actual R2-D2 droid using a Raspberry Pi for a brain. It can avoid obstacles, recognises individual’s faces, and obeys spoken commands. His girlfriend said it was the best present ever, obviously.

2. Picrowave

I love this project because it demonstrates how a small, capable computer can be used by creative people to improve technology we already have. Nathan Broadbent built a Pi-powered microwave that’s probably the best microwave I’ve ever seen. If you’re hands are tied, you can control the microwave with voice commands. Even if you’re nowhere near you can control it remotely using a website and it will tweet when its finished cooking. The coolest feature is that Nathan created an online database of microwave cooking times. The microwave can scan the barcode of a food item pulls the microwave cooking time from the online database.

3. Google Calendar

Instructibles user Piney moved into a new home and found a broken wall-mounted TV in the kitchen. Looking to reuse the wall bracket for something else, Piney created a Pi-powered Google Calendar screen. Rather than drawing on a paper calendar, Piney’s kitchen calendar always has the latest schedule synced from al his other devices. It’s a simple project but sometimes the best ones are.

4. Tor router

The Tor browser keeps your online activities secure by hiding your web browsing habits and location. Its privacy features only extend to the websites you browse and not to internet traffic that your computer may be involved in. This Pi project by hackaday user Thomas is a wireless router that runs all internet traffic through Tor so all your connections are private and secure. Clever!

5. Games consoles

Image © Terence Eden

There are countless gaming projects using the Raspberry Pi, so it was hard to settle on just one to represent them all. There are several retro gaming emulators available for the Raspberry Pi, so it can play games originally released for the NES, SNES, Master System, Megadrive, you name it! Anyone can download the emulator and plug the Pi into a monitor, but with a little more effort you can make a novel gaming machine that stands out. Terence Eden hid the tiny Raspberry Pi Zero inside an Xbox controller. Now he can take the controller anywhere, hook it up to any monitor with an HDMI port, and play all his favourite games from yesteryear.

The Raspberry Pi is an amazing project in itself. It’s helping children at home and in developing countries learn computer science and it’s even being used on the International Space Station. Its size and affordability make it perfect for all your bizarre DIY ideas. Long live the Pi!

Main image © Raspberry Pi Foundation