The Raspberry Pi is arguably the most popular and most accessible of all nano-computers. Its attractive price, its flexibility of use and the infinite possibilities associated with it delight both makers of all kinds and awaken the sensitivity of the general public whose interest has increased in recent years.
Mini-machine to (almost) everything par excellence, the Raspberry Pi has above all been thought out and designed for educational purposes to encourage anyone to learn about the joys of electronics, computers and of course programming. If the more experienced go on projects that are complex to implement (and sometimes completely unusual), requiring a minimum of hands-on, the famous “Raspi” can also be used for simple projects that are accessible to beginners.
It is these affordable, useful and often educational projects that we will focus on today. We have tried to put together in this article a selection of the best ideas and projects to start or continue using your Raspberry Pi. You will no longer have any reason to let your Pi collect dust in the back of a drawer!
You will find projects to be carried out with a small Raspberry Pi Zero as well as with more powerful models such as the Pi 3 A and B +, or even with the Raspberry Pi 4, the latest version of which includes a RAM module of 8 GB!
The Raspberry Pi is enormously popular with neophytes for two common uses, which are none other than the retro-gaming console and the media center.
Transforming a Raspberry Pi into a media center is relatively simple and above all very practical. For a small price you can opt for a Pi 4 to enjoy a 4K display, you can have access to all types of multimedia content, online with Netflix and YouTube for example, via your local network. and even through a NAS server. In this regard, it is possible to make the Pi 4 a real mini-NAS .
To summarize, the Raspberry Pi will allow you to organize, manage and have access to your photos, videos and music, but also to radios and TV channels or to online streaming services, all of which can be controlled from the Internet. using a simple remote control or even a smartphone with functions comparable to a Chromecast.
To turn your raspberry into a media center, we recommend one of the many solutions based on the famous open source media player Kodi . They are by far the most complete and practical to use.
Below, some links that will allow you to choose a distribution and transform your Raspberry Pi into a media center.
Impossible to ignore the retro-gaming console to relive or discover thousands of video games that are now part of history and heritage! The Raspberry Pi has everything you need to emulate many old-generation consoles, such as the Master System, Amiga and Megadrive, the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64, the PC Engine, NeoGeo and other GameBoys and so on, but also more recent systems like the Dreamcast or the PSP!
The installation of a retro-gaming OS is disconcertingly easy, the difficulty ultimately resides rather in the fact of finding and unearthing the ROMs and ISOs of your favorite games. There are several operating systems dedicated to retro-gaming, some of which offer compatibility with the Raspberry Pi, but of course also with other SBCs like the Odroid.
There are advantages and disadvantages for each OS, for example Recalbox does not yet support the Raspberry Pi 4, unlike Batocera and Retropie, it does however integrate Kodi and can therefore also act as a media center.
Here are some ideas for making your Raspberry Pi a retrogaming console:
To stay in the video game theme, we now present two solutions that allow you to either stream your games on a screen other than that of your gaming machine, or to access your games remotely, all thanks to the Raspberry Pi. This means that in the first case you will be able to organize multiplayer games in your living room without having to connect your PC to your television, or even simply cast your gaming sessions; in the second case you will be able to play together and online on games which only offer a local multiplayer mode!
The first solution is none other than Steam Link ! After stopping the production of Valve’s small box, the famous platform decided to export its software platform, on Android , but also on Raspberry Pi.
The second solution is called Parsec . It is neither more nor less than a screen sharing application to install on your gaming computer and your Raspberry Pi. It has the particular advantage of allowing you to invite your friends to watch or even join your game. .
In addition, you will not be limited to the games in your Steam library, in fact you will be able to launch any application present on your PC. It also means it’s a great retro-gaming alternative, giving you access to more systems.
Let’s not forget that these two solutions require a relatively fast computer, as well as a fast and stable internet connection.
What is a digital camera, if not an optical sensor mounted on an electronic board? And why not use a Raspberry Pi as a camera?
This is possible thanks to photo modules developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, as well as other products found on the market. If these photo modules are generally integrated within very specific projects and are often requested for uses such as video surveillance, it is ultimately only the imagination that restricts their use.
The RPi HQ Camera , the latest module launched by the foundation, also increases the possibilities with its 12.3 MP Sony IMR477R backlit sensor, especially since it has a C and CS mount and can accommodate a large number of lenses.
raspberry pi camera
Of course the various photo modules of the Raspberry Pi do not pretend to compete with your cameras, they have a range and a value, so to speak, the opposite since it is a question here of learning, of experimenting. and tweak objects and projects without any limit. Passionate photographers, amateurs and beginners alike, will inevitably find satisfaction there.
The nano computer stands out here once again for its price, suitable for carrying out projects without really worrying about the financial investment they require, and for its ability to be a do it yourself object par excellence. The other strength of the raspberry, especially in this specific case, is the resources available to learn. The foundation has published a well-supplied user guide (free in PDF format) to turn the Raspberry Pi into a camera and integrate it into many projects.
Some resources and ideas around the Raspberry Pi as a camera and camera:
● Download the Raspberry Pi Camera Guide for free
● Pix-E : a GIF device based on the Pi Zero
● PolaPi : the Polaroid revisited
● A streaming camera at a lower cost
● Build an AI CCTV camera
The Raspberry Pi is a real Swiss Army knife, in particular thanks to its GPIO pins and the wide variety of HATs developed to multiply its functionalities. Among this array of expansion cards, which you can design yourself by the way, the Pi can accommodate a digital to analog converter, more commonly known as a DAC. This is essential equipment for audiophiles, or more simply to upgrade the audio performance of the Pi, which is natively weak.
By equipping your Pi with a DAC, you can turn it into a real multimedia player capable of boosting any speaker or Hi-Fi system with wireless functionality, by controlling everything via your smartphone or your PC. The Raspi can of course be used this way without the need for a DAC, but the quality electronics that these audio cards come with make all the difference to enjoying perfect sound.
Many projects exist to cast music with a Pi, a bit like a Chromecast audio. We recommend that you take a look at the balenaSound project for its ease of deployment and its features (Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect).
To summarize, here are some relevant projects for casting music (and videos) with a Raspberry Pi:
● RaspiCast , the open source alternative to Google’s Chromecast
● Volumio , the Hi-Res audio server for Raspberry Pi
● RuneAudio , an alternative to Volumio
Note that most of these solutions are suitable for multiroom and also allow you to enjoy Spotify Connect and AirPlay. Other alternatives are available according to your needs, in particular we could have mentioned moOde and Max2Play .
With its small size and limited performance, the Raspberry Pi does not look good. And yet, did you know that the raspberry has already traveled aboard the International Space Station and has even been able to capture a few snapshots of the Earth with the DoT-1 satellite? The message we want to get across by approaching these two missions and by presenting some ideas for activities here is simple: let’s take the seed and don’t let our nano-computers sleep in a cupboard.
In the age of connected objects of all kinds and ethical questions raised by data collection, many of us want to “take back control”. And why not try to do it with a Raspberry Pi?
There is no shortage of ideas for projects to secure your home network and your personal data and if the Raspi is widely used by hackers thanks to the many hacking tools it is able to perform, it can also be effective in protecting itself.
No, you are certainly not going to make a fortune mining cryptocurrency with such a small machine! However, if you want to explore the world of cryptos or learn more about it and have a Raspberry Pi, then it can be of great use to you in several projects.
If mining cryptocurrency with a Raspberry Pi is unlikely to be profitable, this activity at least has the advantage of not being expensive, both in terms of the material itself and the energy it consumes. Nothing therefore prevents you from trying to bet on tokens that use PoS algorithms – Proof Of Stakes (proof of stake).
In addition, the Raspberry Pi can be useful for the following applications:
● Crypto Ticker : to be programmed to inform you in real time of currency prices
Many projects are very easily deployable with the Raspberry Pi, without requiring in-depth programming knowledge. However, this small computer the size of a bank card was first and foremost designed for learning programming languages and tools. Indeed, the development of programs and the like is essential if one wishes to exploit the full potential of the raspberry. This is where the relevance of the nanocomputer is felt with projects where the only barriers are ultimately imagination and creativity.
With the Raspbian operating system (which recently changed its name to Raspberry Pi OS), we can get started with Python. It is a programming language used in many fields; it is relatively simple, easy to learn and understand, and as effective for small projects as it is for carrying out industrial projects.
Raspberry Pi OS also embeds Scratch , a graphical (visual) programming language accompanied by a software environment, which allows you to learn to develop all kinds of programs in a fun way. These two languages allow you to take control of the GPIO port of the raspberry in order to be able to control any object or peripheral connected to it. This is the strong point of the Raspberry Pi: being somewhere between a mini-PC and a microcontroller.
Here are some resources and project ideas to get started and learn programming with your Raspberry Pi:
● Get started by creating short programs with Python and Scratch
● Code The Classics : the book that teaches how to rewrite iconic games on Raspberry Pi (free download)
Regularly diverted to design all kinds of electronic objects, the Raspberry Pi is increasingly used as a standard computer, especially since its latest version has enabled the Foundation to significantly increase the performance and functionality of the mini-machine. If it is used as such, finally why not turn it into a laptop, a touch pad or even a tiny handheld.
One of the first projects of this kind to have seen the light of day is none other than pi-top , a laptop computer that stands out from the crowd since it has a sliding part giving access to its entrails, consisting in particular of a Raspberry Pi!
Since then, multiple projects have sprung up all over the web, sometimes even quite unusual projects such as the “Computer” Mouse . Nothing prevents you from taking inspiration from these projects to create your own “laptop” if you are a handyman or with the help of a 3D printer. The same goes if you want to turn your Raspberry Pi into a touchscreen tablet running Android!
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