We’ve shown you how to get started with the Raspberry Pi, the pocket-sized DIY dream computer. Here are 10 awesome projects you can put together in a weekend with it.
It’s Raspberry Pi Week at Lifehacker, and we’ll be showing you some awesome DIY projects you can put together with this miraculous device. If you haven’t acquired one yet, check out our introduction to the Pi to learn more about what it is, what you’ll need, and the cool stuff you can do with one such as setting up a personal VPN and turning it into an XBMC media center.
This past week, we walked you through some of the common projects people tackle with their Raspberry Pi, including:
- Install Raspbian and get started with Raspberry Pi DIY
- Build an XBMC-powered media centre
- Set up a personal VPN for secure browsing anywhere you go
- Create an AirPlay receiver and stereo companion
However, our guides are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of people out there doing awesome stuff with the Pi, so we’ve rounded up 10 of the best projects you might want to consider below.
Build a Combination Pandora Jukebox and Airplay Receiver
We showed you how to build a Raspberry Pi Airplay Receiver, now take it up a notch and add a Pandora Jukebox to the mix so you can stream tunes to your speakers when you’re not listening to your own music. It’s a simple project, and Shaun Gehring even shares the code and steps required to get it up and running.
Build Your Own Raspberry Pi-Powered Computer
It’s definitely more expensive than just buying a similar device, but this previously mentioned handheld Raspberry Pi-powered computer is an excellent DIY project that will put your skills to the test. It’s packed with a 3.5-inch LCD display and a 64GB SSD, a full physical keyboard and trackpad, and serious processing power. It’s not for the quick-and-easy crowd, but if you’re a serious hacker or maker, this is a project to try. Don’t want to roll your own everything? Try this Raspberry Pi PC in a keyboard (German link) project they we’ve featured before instead. Alternatively, try this all-in-one Raspberry Pi PC mod that just straps the Pi and all of its gear to the back of a display, perfect for that iMac-like feel.
Build a Robot that Reads Audiobooks or Speaks Your Tweets Aloud
If your vision is impaired, or you just like doing other things while having a book — or your Twitter stream — read aloud to you, the Raspberry Pi is the perfect device to dedicate to the task. For example, this one-button audiobook player was an ideal gift for a 90-year-old grandmother who loves listening to audio books. Just pop in an SD card loaded with a book, and press the button to hear it read aloud. Prefer Twitter to literature? OK, this adorable wood bowl looks cute and reads your stream aloud in real time. Plus, all of the tools required to build both are available. If an adorable wood bowl isn’t your style, there’s always Manuel, the Scottish Moose. He’ll read your tweets, and look creepy while he does it.
Set Up a Personal Web Server
The Raspberry Pi is essentially a tiny, headless computer, that you can manage remotely. Servers also happen to be headless computers that you can manage remotely, so it makes sense that someone would turn a Raspberry Pi into a tiny personal web server you can run just about anywhere. We covered it not too long ago, but the full guide walks you through the setup, installing the right packages, installing PHP, and getting it all ready for your automated torrenting/streaming box, your hand-crafted online resume or your own personal landing page.
Use a Raspberry Pi to Automate Time-Lapse Photos
Time-lapse videos of cityscapes or stars streaming across the sky can make for beautiful video, but to get the same effect, you will need a dolly that can move, pan, and tilt the shot ever-so-slowly over the course of many hours. Instead of spending a lot of money on a professional rig, Rick Adam’s DIY Raspberry Pi-powered dolly does the same for far far cheaper, and can be remotely controlled and managed by an Android phone. This one will take some work if you want to do it yourself, but the proof is in the results.
Embed a Raspberry Pi into your DSLR for Wireless Tethering and USB Backups
If photography is your hobby, this previously mentioned Raspberry Pi hack essentially embeds the tiny computer into a DSLR to extend its functionality. With their powers combined, you get a DSLR that can wirelessly (or wired, via USB) transmit photos to a PC while you shoot them, as they’re saved, control the camera remotely with a PC, tablet or smartphone, and convert images on the fly as you take them. Photographer David Hunt managed to fit the Pi and all of the electronics needed into a tiny battery pack that attaches to the bottom of his DSLR’s grip.
Use Your Raspberry Pi as a Hacking Tool
The folks at Pwnie Express have a Debian (not Raspbian, mind you) based penetration-testing and security auditing distro for the Raspberry Pi called Raspberry Pwn. With it comes a myriad of security and networking tools, all rolled into a tiny OS on a tiny portable computer that you can hook up anywhere. Use these powers for good, folks.
Roll a Raspberry Pi-Powered Personal Dropbox Clone
Dropbox is great, but sometimes you want to be in control of your own files. If you have a Raspberry Pi, you can build your own personal cloud storage service. We discussed the project not too long ago, but the full project uses OwnCloud to create a personally managed and hosted cloud storage service across systems that you own and only you have access to. You will need some storage to get this one up and running, not to mention the Raspberry Pi and a good case for it, but that’s about all. When you’re done, you’ll have a personal Dropbox that you can use to store anything you want, with as much storage as you’re willing to add to it.
Build an Automatic DeviantArt Picture Frame
Electronic picture frames are cool, but this Raspberry Pi-powered DeviantArt picture frame lets you hook up your Pi to the web and to do an LCD screen (presumably one you have framed on the wall or on your desk) and a DeviantArt account. From there, just use the source code that Cameron Wiebe provides in his walkthough to pull popular photos down for display as a slideshow. You can even tweak the code so you only get images from your favourite artist, or of your favourite subject or topic. You can check out what the frame looks like in the image here, with an illustration by ArtGerm at DeviantArt that Cameron took of the final product (via Wired).
Build a Raspberry Pi-Powered MAME Arcade Table
The other beautiful thing about the Raspberry Pi being such a tiny computer is that you can task it with things that don’t take too much processing power but that you’d like built into other devices, like this Raspberry Pi arcade system that we absolutely love. It’s embedded into a coffee table, along with the joystick, buttons and a 24-inch display for all of the games you will play on it. Best of all, the full walkthrough is right there, and if you have the equipment to make it work, it’s easy to build. Alternatively, you can consider a different form factor and follow the same guide. Maybe a stand-up cabinet?
Want some more Raspberry Pi projects? We’ve covered quite a few already. Check out our Raspberry Pi tagpage for more projects to tackle.
Looking to get even more deeply involved in the Raspberry Pi community? Here are a few places to look for more useful information.
- Raspberry Pi Project
- Raspberry Pi Forums
- Raspberry Pi Wiki
- Adafruit’s Raspberry Pi Projects Page
- Element 14′s Raspberry Pi Resource Page
- The Raspberry Pi Education Manual (PDF)
- The Pi Store (Here’s how to get it built-in to Raspbian)
- The University of Cambridge Raspberry Pi Tutorials
- Unofficial Raspberry Pi Forums
These projects and resources are just the beginning. Remember, if there’s a job that a mini computer can automate, the Raspberry Pi is probably a good option. Use the tools we’ve given you so far this week, and you will be ready to tackle almost anything.