The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer that only costs $35, but comes with lots of interesting features for its price. While it has been initially designed to promote computer skills among students and allow them to have access to an affordable PC, this device became much more than that.
Hobbyist and talented students, as well as everyone who enjoying DIY kind of stuff started building cool things using this mini-PC. From robots to music players and telephones to entertainment devices, you can choose from x number of projects to do with your recently acquired computer. To help you get inspired, here are some of our favorites. Note that, most of these projects can be carried out on the older model which recently got a price cut.
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Create your Own Case
If you don’t have a Raspberry Pi, but googled the name of the PC to see what it looks like, you probably saw that it’s nothing but what you see in the image above. Therefore, it comes with no case and keyboard, as well as no cables, no headphones, etc.
While the device might look a little fragile having all its circuits exposed like this, it actually isn’t. It has been built to work this way and still be fairly strong. However, you might want to build a case for it, just for design purposes, if not for safety.
There is a printable PDF that you can find here and choose to paint with your favorite colors. All you need to do after printing it is to glue the thing together around the actual PC, and then do the creative bit or let someone else do it.
Set it Up as a Media Home Centre
Small and fragile as it may look, this mini-PC can be easily hooked into a TV by using an HDMI cable. You will need to have a large screen already and buy the cable yourself, but once this is done, you’ll only have to connect them together.
This way, you won’t need Apple TV anymore. There are operating systems like RasPlex, as well as RaspbMC. Both of them can be installed on the Raspberry Pi to make the set-up process a lot easier. To sum up, this kind of OS can help you access media remotely from a smartphone, tablet or other PC. It can also stream content from Hulu or Netflix for you.
You can follow the instructions on this website to do so, or even do the same thing with OpenElec. In this case, you will need an SD card with more than 512MB, a power adapter and a micro USB cable. Optional but still useful are a keyboard and mouse, the case that we previously talked about and an Ethernet cable.
What about a Download Hub?
While most people spend a frustrating amount of time waiting for their download queue to clean up and the download itself to be done, the Raspberry Pi can solve that problem, too. By routing all of them through this Mini-PC and using an external device for storage, you can create a download hub for yourself.
If you frequently take advantage of torrent websites, you can hook the Pi to the router so that all downloads will go through this computer. You will also need an SD card that is 220MB large or a little bit bigger and make sure that you enabled SSH-access by following the detailed instructions here.
Write a Cool Game
For those of you who are tempting by the idea of writing their own game, this thread might be an interesting one to look at. Raspberry Pi comes with a great platform to use if you’re just learning how to do programming now.
By using the Raspbian OS, you can even use some of the pre-installed tools that make coding a lot easier. One of them is Scratch, and all you need to do is to click on the Start button and go to Shrink to bring it to an optimal size.
You should then go to Control to choose what key on the keyboard does what in your game and to response in order to set up various responses to actions that the gamer might take. You can access the full instructions on this web page and get started with your own game right away.
Build a Cloud Server
If you have an external HDD, a functional Raspberry Pi and a very good, reliable internet connection, you could even create your own cloud server. Given how many people use clouds to store data and how many files we have to deal with every day, such a server could turn into a life-saver quite quickly.
You will need to download and install a program called GoodSync in order to make this possible. Once you’re done with that part, you have to launch it and click on the button for creating a new job. Simply enter the syncing job details and select the folders you wish to transfer and use your website’s SFTP address to make it happen. Find more details about the way to make this happen on LifeHacker.
Create a Music Player for the Whole House
If music is what you like most, and you want to make sure that it can be heard everywhere around the house, this could be a cool project for you. You will need wireless receivers, as well as a wireless streamer and the Pi itself.
You can use a piece of software such as Pi MusicBox or RuneAudio, but Volumio can also work. Once you get this one installed, you can set up playlists or even play music from the radio. All this will be done using Spotify while the Pi is connected to the router.
The number of receivers you’ll need depends on how many rooms there are in the house, as you will need to have one in each room. The laptop or PC that you are using to actually control the playlists has to come with a micro SD card, and you’re good to go while sticking to the steps here.
Get Windows 3.0 on your Pi
You can use QEMU to run Windows 3.0 or even DOS 6.22 on your Pi computer. In order to do this, though, you will also need to create a virtual machine – also known as a virtual box. You can extract de VDI – Virtual Box Image – from Kirsle’s web page and convert this one into a QEMU image.
This can be done by typing sudo apt-get install qemu to get the program first. You should then type qemu-img convert-f raw image.img-O qcow2image.qcow. Always remember to replace the word image with the actual name of the image. You can find all the information you need on the previously-mention website, but here’s more operating systems to use on the Pi.
Get Firefox to Work on Pi
In case you really like Firefox, you’ll probably want to be using it on your Raspberry Pi, too. The good news is that you can do so by using the program that Oleg Romashin came up with. This guy tried hard to make Firefox work on Pi computers, and the current results of his work can be found here.
You can find more information from another developer right here. In both cases, you’ll need a power supply, external monitor, strong SD card, a card reader for the PC, as well as powerful internet and wireless keyboard/mouse. You can use Gecko and build your own version of the Firefox OS or get it from this programmer.
What about a PiTelephone?
If you want to turn any phone into an internet phone that can be used to take and make phone calls via Skype, you can do that with Pi. By connecting the Raspberry Pi and your current phone using an Ethernet cable, you can change the way this phone works, rings and many more.
As you can see in the Youtube video before, the software is the most important bit. After installing the PiPhone, a C# program written in Mono, you can control the phone using your computer. Find all the necessary ingredients for this recipe here, as well as the steps to follow.
Fancy a Digital Calendar?
If you have a lot going on every day and find it tough to keep track of it, calendar can be very useful. In case you have a TV or other screen that you’re not currently using, you can install it on the wall in your kitchen or your office and connect it to the Pi.
You will also need good internet and an SD card of 2GB or more. Apart from that, an HDMI cable, a micro USB cable, a wireless keyboard and a mouse will also be mandatory. Using Raspbian as your OS, you’ll have to enable booting to the external desktop within this program. Instructions come with all the necessary details on how to make this possible.