The Raspberry Pi is one of the most incredible tech stories since the machine to slice bread stopped lopping off fingers and improved the quality of sandwiches everywhere.
What began life as a sincere attempt to provide computer access to schools and under developed countries, the Raspberry Pi rapidly ballooned into an entire new industry, hobby and endless realiser of ideas, without ever ceasing to fulfill its original goal.
With three successive models and an incredible 10 million units sold by September 2016, the Raspberry Pi Foundation continues to educate and delight in equal measure.
We hope that one day people will look back on Raspberry Pi in the same way many of us look back on the BBC Micro, Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore 64: as the machines that gave us our first exposure to hardware and software engineering, and set us on the path to where we are today.Providing children with access to low-cost programmable general-purpose computers is a little, simple thing that can have big, complex consequences down the line.
— Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi inventor and founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
In this epic list of Raspberry Pi uses, we barely scratch the surface of potential uses.
Incredibly mini Mac
Long before Steve Jobs and Jony Ive started causing premature embolisms in the chests of product designers at every other tech outfit, Apple products (like every other computer company to be fair) were hulking beasts shrouded in grey plastic cases of banality. But they were trailblazers.
In a tribute to the clunky pioneers of years gone by, programmer Jannis Hermanns has constructed the original Mac out of LEGO, a Raspberry Pi and an e-reader after a particularly inspiring session of LEGO with his son. That afternoon must have been exceptionally rainy if the Wi-Fi went out too.
There are few things more dadlike than cracking puns, embarassing daughters and building home theatres. Who wants to watch Game of Thrones without 17.1 surround sound and a TV like a kingsize mattress? No one, that’s who.
Unfortunately, few of us can afford the latest swimming pool sized TVs and associated equipment. Jamie McKane however, has come up with a way of not only living it large with the state of the art, but doing it in a way that’s upgradable, convenient and above all, cheaper than a family car.
Lock up your daughters (and other family members)
Turning 21 is supposed to be accompanied by the time honoured tradition of getting the “key to the house” – sort of like being granted the keys to a city but where your only accomplishment is not having moved out by 21.
However, in this day and age it’s not likely most of us will have moved out by 35 so what better way of updating the tradition to the digital age and securing your home with a Raspberry Pi?
The team over at Hacker House have developed a way of upgrading your house to be capable of granting entry with a smartphone – which lets face it is a lot harder to lose than your housekeys given it’s virtually glued to our hands anyway – and, even better, without having to dismantle walls to accomplish:
Lego Rubik’s Cube solver
In a wonderful marriage of two of the most customisable consumer items in history, Reddit creator Francesco Georg used Lego and a Raspberry Pi to conquer one of the most frustrating consumer items in history – the Rubik’s Cube.
Georg’s creation can solve the Rubik's Cube in around 90 seconds, not as fast as some machines and even some humans, but they aren’t made from Lego.
Rather than let people take their own pictures at your party, why not set up your own photo booth? Dictate the media and control the message! We’re not going so far as to suggest you should ban phones from your party though, you can still let your guests reassure people who don’t care that they’re at a party.
This photo booth is based on a Raspberry Pi with a pi camera module. It incorporates a touchscreen and can email pictures or upload them for sharing with the friends who didn’t listen and now have square heads.
3D printing is the biggest tech introduction since the iPod, if the iPod cost more than most people’s cars. Unfortunately, the tech may take a few more years before it becomes truly accessible. However, don’t let that stop you from scanning all the things you’ll be printing when it does get there.
For this project, instructables.com user the_anykey used 40 Pis and 40 cameras (although stresses it could be done with much fewer) as well as 40 8gb SD cards and, disappointingly, just a single power.
The cameras are intended to fire all at once and so create a strong image of something which may be harder to convince to remain still with only one camera, like a kid or drunken brawl. Once scanned, the 3D image is rendered and ready for some genius to make a 3D printer out of a Raspberry Pi (hint).
Google Glass never quite happened did it but don’t worry, open source developer Adafruit developed a Raspberry Pi powered wearable display housed in a 3D printed shell which clips on. This then clips onto regular glasses to truly show Sergey and Larry what they’re missing.
Bitcoin mining machine
Bitcoin has gotten a bit of a bad rep since its launch in 2008 but actually has many benefits over traditional currencies, mainly that there aren’t too many fat cats swimming in bitcoins and laughing maniacally.
Getting ahead in the bitcoin game can be done by mining which apparently involves some form of maths so forget that. Fortunately, your Raspberry Pi is here to save you, specifically the Raspberry Pi 2.
The Raspberry Pi 2 has a large RAM memory and a high processing power which can handle the power hungry miner software such as BFGMiner, is a ‘modular ASIC/FPGA featuring monitoring and remote interface capabilities’. Once installed, users can start mining and can even connect more Raspberry Pis to increase the speed.
Credit to instructables.com user ssarthak598 for this set up.
Beer can keyboard
Next time you’re lying awake wondering about what the universe is expanding into, make something completely useless but awesome instead like the guys at Robofun Create did.
With 40 beer cans connected to an Arduino powered touch controller and a Raspberry Pi controlled TV, you can prove just how far you’re willing to go to look cool at parties.
Just don’t drink and type.
With the introduction of any new technology, there’s always someone waiting to work out how to do some bad stuff with it, like a shovel or the hydrogen bomb.
By installing the network penetrating OS Kali Linux on a Raspberry Pi, not only can you crack Wi-Fi, find Bluetooth weaknesses and get yourself thoroughly (and most probably, deservedly arrested) you can also do it on the go!
Despite printers being consistently developed every year, they are still almost universally prone to the exact same errors they were in 1989 – the paper is jammed, printer cannot connect to the computer or the ink has seemingly vanished – so if you get one that’s reliable, it’s understandable you’d want to stick with it.
Rather than forking out for a new one that only might work, a Raspberry Pi can transform your old printer into a wireless printer so you can keep pace with the flashy, other-room-printing neighbours.
Plane spotting with Stratux
Plane spotting is a bit of a niche hobby but there are far weirder ways to spend your time and at least this one isn’t illegal.
With this clever little set up, the Raspberry Pi acts as a receiver that connects to your smartphone and details all the aircraft in the sky around you and their info including decoded ADS-B call signs, location, altitude and speed, allowing you to find the best spots to pitch up with your thermos.
If digital tech putting most analogue tech out of business wasn’t enough, you can also kick it while it’s down using Oliver Mattos and Oskar Weigl’s Raspberry Pi concoction.
This device transforms the Raspberry Pi into an FM transmitter capable of ranging from 7.5 – 107.9 mhz, although you’ll probably have to find a frequency that’s not already in use or risk interfering with licensed broadcasters.
Jack the Ripper Bot
Is there anyone that doesn’t have a shelf or 19 groaning under the weight of DVDs, VHS tapes, BetaMax, Yellow Pages and other antiques that suggest a growing compulsion for hoarding?
If so, Raspberry Pi tinkerer Andy Ayre may have the solution, this 3D printed device pulls your DVDs from a stack, drops it into the drive and rips the contents to your computer; once done, it opens the drive and puts it on another pile.
For generations of mice sneaking into homes for crumbs, getting busted almost certainly carried a death sentence, either at the hands of a sadistic cat slaking a bloodlust or under the bars of a brutal spring-powered trap. Even with the advent of humane traps, mice would be left in solitary to think about what they’ve done, not knowing whether you’ll remember to check it ever again.
This Raspberry Pi invention from Alain Mauer offers a harmless alternative for the mice. Working like a regular humane trap, it takes a picture of the mouse once inside and sends you an email to notify you to come let it out, preferably far away.
New parents exist in a hazy state of sleep deprivation which can become so discombobulating that they begin to love being at work – it may have something to do with getting to leave your kids somewhere but who knows.
To remedy that, and get back into the groove of resenting the notion of regular employment, a clever Raspberry Pi set up can help reduce some of the nightmares of having young children.
By incorporating a webcam and motion sensing package, it’s possible to stream the baby live to a phone or tablet. You can also monitor the temperature and even play calming music so the baby goes back to sleep and let you parent effortlessly, i.e. without getting out of bed.
Microwaves were invented to make cooking easier, but we soon got used to that and then microwaving became effort, so to make it easier again? A Raspberry Pi!
The Picrowave runs software that can scan a barcode and look up cooking instructions and even perform voice recognition for a limited number of commands from someone consistently smashing records in hours spent without interacting with society.
With microbrews and craft beer here to stay, the guys over at BrewPi have come up with a way of helping with the crafting, letting you get on with the boozing.
The fermentation temperature controller for brewing beer or wine runs on a Raspberry Pi with Arduino; it offers better temperature control and includes features like data logging, web interface and graphs.
Voice activated coffee machine
Without coffee, most people would barely be people. And with verbal and motor skills coming at a premium first thing in the morning, Developer Garden and Oracle carried out a service to humanity by allowing you to ask for a coffee without having to give your name to a resentful barista who’s going to spell it wrong anyway.
The staff at Developer Garden joined forces with Oracle to hack a Nespresso coffee machine to make it work via voice controls using just a Raspberry Pi and a smartphone.
Keeping your home is a task in itself, you’d think a bunch of walls and wires would be alright on their own but a house is more like a cantankerous old man with a hair in his soup, leaky drains, creaking doors and draughty windows. You can get a whole battery of devices and apps that will help you with your power and heating, your bills and your plumbing but that then becomes a hassle itself.
Using a combination of Raspberry Pi, Arduino and a lot of sensors, users can monitor lights, shut electric blinds, report water leaks and sense gas leaks. It will send all this handy info as alerts to your phone.
Christmas lights controller
There’s nothing like proving to your neighbours that you’re going to be a problem than putting your Christmas lights up by Bonfire Night. Once they’re up on a sensible date however, you can use a Raspberry Pi to rank up your festive cheer to 11. Having a Raspberry Pi Christmas lights controller can let you synchronise lights to music and even automate an entire light show using the frequency spectrum of the jolly music you haven’t turned off for a month.
Much like the printer mentioned above, buying a whole new TV for a single additional feature would make all but the most devoted techies baulk. Ironically though, these devoted techies are also most likely to be best placed to negate the need to shell out.
You can transform any regular “dumb” TV into a smart TV by using a Raspberry Pi to stream Netflix, search google, stream music and watch movies. You can also install the Kodi software on the Pi to stream everything from one place.
Credit to instructables.com user NoobT
One of the most popular uses for a Raspberry Pi has been the smart mirror, giving the most narcissistic generation in history another reason to admire their own visages.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the smartest of them all? Michael Teeuw created his smart mirror by mounting mirror glass over a flat black display while outputting white text on the background to display clocks, weather, calendar and news feed through a Raspberry Pi.
How many times have you tested the limits of your bladder because you wanted to hear the end of the song that’s playing – pausing is for losers.
By using several Raspberry Pis you can place them around the house and stream music to individual speakers remotely, all controlled wirelessly from your phone, tablet or computer.
Eat, sleep, rave, repeat anytime, anywhere.
Brewing tea is an English tradition that, while we still drink enough to float a hippo, is sadly being forgotten in a world late for the dentist.
Instructables.com user periprohus wanted to restore the idea of actually waiting for your tea to brew instead of pouring scolding brown water down your throat after 10 seconds. His clever, and travel ready, device brews the tea for a specific amount of time – default five minutes – and removes the tea and alerts you when ready.
Having a pet is one of the few joys in life that doesn’t need technology to still be fulfilling, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get them involved anyway. Whether that’s getting them their own iPad because you have more money than sense or, more sensibly, following creator David Bryan to create an automated pet feeder.
David uses his feeder to control what his cat eats so it doesn’t become overweight when he’s away but, more likely, it can also be used to make sure you don’t accidentally starve it.
Where do cats go when they go out? Cats are a furry enigma when they’re right in front of you – what’s it looking at behind that wall, why does it love that sock so much, is it going to murder me in my sleep – so when they’re out of the house, the mind boggles.
Hackster user Jeremy Wall, clearly wondering why his cat was coming home smelling of another person’s couch, set out to find out what it does all day. He used a Raspberry Pi 2 to track the cat via GPS on a receiver attached to a cat vest. Jeremy’s creation even allows him to phone his cat to see where it’s snooping around whenever he likes.
Way before George Lucas stopped being able to resist the compulsion to ruin his own reputation, R2D2 was the coolest, cutest movie character without a face and the beepy little wheelie bin was made into a veritable litany of different toys.
Not content with the poor standards of the mass-produced toys however, YouTube user Greensheller decided to improve the offering for his girlfriend’s birthday.
By including a Raspberry Pi inside a standard R2D2 toy, the cheeky little fella is now equipped with even more gadgets than the original movie character. It has Wi-Fi, speech control, face recognition, motion detection, distance detection and audio message record and replay – although no holograms sorry.
Weasley location clock
From one childhood-defining franchise to another, the magical clock in Harry Potter was a little flourish of detail that stuck in the mind of a generation of readers and viewers so it’s little wonder instructables.com user ppeters0502 decided to recreate this using his Pi.
While the original clock on the wall of Mrs Weasley’s kitchen was powered by magic, this Weasley clock uses a Raspberry Pi with GPS. Like the magical version, each clock hand represents a family member and tracks their location, recording whether they are at college or having a pint at the pub.
While it might not be able to detect mortal peril, it will detect something even worse, empty beds!
Adafruit user Tony DiCola, perhaps fed up with people stealing his keys, has created a treasure box which will refuse to open unless it sees its owner looking down at it.
The box, connected to a Raspberry Pi uses facial recognition to detect faces before deciding whether to open. It might not keep a burglar out but should restrict access to the posh biscuits.
Whoever designed the original Xbox controller had seemingly only had a fleeting glance at a pair of human hands, perhaps through a bus window or something, as it was notoriously unwieldy. However, its huge size means other things can fit nicely inside, things like a Raspberry Pi Zero.
Crafty tinkerer Terence Eden decided to do away with the actual Xbox and make the controller an all in one games console. Using a Pi Zero and some steady hands, Terence’s contraption plays a variety of classic games on any TV.
Three of the five species of rhinos are endangered, a shameful statistic only likely to get worse unless Spielberg casts one in a blockbuster.
Until then, more needs to be done to raise awareness for their conservation. The University of Southampton did this by creating Erica, an interactive art exhibit.
Made from a white fiberglass shell and equipped with five Raspberry Pi single board computers, it uses sensors and actuators to interact with the audience who can feed and stroke her to prompt a reaction. Remote users can also get involved by tweeting to change her behaviour. Let’s hope she doesn’t bite.
Nintendo’s Gameboy is one of the most successful ways of getting kids to pipe down in car journeys ever but their technology is no longer capable of keeping up with the advances of modern phones i.e. it can’t get Snapchat.
However, with the Raspberry Pi you can convert an old Gameboy with retro games into a new one with a colour display, more buttons, brightness control, colour contrast and a USB Bluetooth adapter.
Ever since Chris Boardman figured out you can shave seconds with shaved legs, there’s nothing cyclists love more than the chance to analyse every aspect of their rides.
Raspberry Pi quadcopter
Drones are one of the most customisable toys and not including a Raspberry Pi would be like going to see the Beatles and only Ringo Starr shows up with a tambourine.
The Drone Pi, created by instructables.com user reglisse44, is a Multiwii powered quadcopter which is controlled by a Raspberry Pi 2. Using a camera and a Debian-based Linux file system for drones, the quadcopter can live stream directly from your neighbour’s bedroom windows.
H20 IQ – Other
Previously, you couldn’t be considered a proper grown up until you could keep a plant alive for more than two weeks but, like almost every other walk of life, technologically has allowed us to cheat traditional life. Creator Valkyrie Savage integrated a Raspberry Pi into a clever irrigation system which can automatically keep your little hydrangeas – and the illusion of adulthood – alive.
DIY Pancreas – Other
The Raspberry Pi isn’t just for fun or convenience, it isn’t a toy and its seemingly endless potential has quickly reached the medical industry. Having Type 1 Diabetes is hardly fun and can quickly result in a serious medical situation. In order to reduce her stress, diabetes sufferer Dana Lewis’ husband created the Do It Yourself Pancreas (DIYPS) to continually monitor her condition.
Using a Raspberry Pi to monitor data from the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) the DIY pancreas can pump the correct dose of insulin even when you are having a snooze.
Braille teacher – Other
Learning Braille has always been a monumentally difficult task, even if you can see.
Students from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India developed Mudra, a Braille teaching device powered by a Raspberry Pi. Creators Aman Srivastav and Sanskriti Dawle used Google’s speech API to augment the tactile output and help visually impaired people improve their Braille skills.