Raspberry Pi: Top 19 projects to try yourself

Raspberry PI

The best projects to try with the Raspberry Pi Zero

Raspberry Pi has floored the tech community yet again, with the launch of the Raspberry Pi Zero.

The newest member of the Pi family, the Zero costs £4 and measures just 65mm across while still remaining just as capable as earlier models. 

With similar specs to the Raspberry Pi B+, the latest iteration of the hobby computing line will allow users to make their microcomputing projects even more micro without sacrificing performance.

It's not just experienced hobbyists and hackers who have made excellent use of the Pi. Schoolchildren have come up with ingenious ideas, the best of which have been showcased at PA Consulting's annual Raspberry Pi Awards.

We’ve rounded up all the best things you can do with a Raspberry Pi to give budding makers some ideas. Most of these are designed with the larger old-school models in mind, but many of them can be adapted (or even improved) to feature the Raspberry Pi Zero.

Below we take a look at 18 of our favourite Raspberry Pi projects to date:

1) Xbox Zero

The Raspberry Pi Zero is so small that it could fit into just about anything, as this hack demonstrates. Programmer and maker Terence Eden was lucky enough to get his hands on one of the devices, and with a bit of tinkering, was able to put it inside an original Xbox controller.

Using the RetroPie emulation software, he was able to make a retro games console that's entirely contained in the controller. The controller itself loops back into the Pi, so all you need to play your favourite old-school games is an HDMI display and a power source. There's even enough space to fit in a portable power pack for those that want to take it out and about.

Terence's blog post with a full how-to is available here

2) Tea-Pi

A quarter-finalist in the 2014 Hackaday Prize, this project by James Pavur is designed to automate the process of making a nice loose-leaf cuppa.

Tell the Raspberry Pi for how long and at what temperature you want your tea brewed, and the Pi will activate the connected kettle, measure the temperature, and lower the tea in with a servo motor. 

Once the tea leaves have been in for the desired time, it’ll lift them out again, ready to be made into a lovely cup of tea.

3) Raspberry Tor Router

Anonymising network Tor is beloved of privacy advocates everywhere, as well as Dark Web users with more nefarious purposes in mind. 

This project turns the Raspberry Pi into a router to send all your network traffic through Tor, rather than just browser sessions. Best of all, you can even slap a battery pack into it to take it wherever you go!

4) Pi Multi-Room Music Player

Buying a bespoke multi-room sound system can be costly - but thanks to Jezsinglespeed at Instructables, you can now do it yourself for under £100. It’s a simple four-step project, which is perfect if you want to introduce children the power of the Raspberry Pi.

All you need is one wireless streamer, wireless receivers (no. depends on how many rooms) and of course your trusty Pi.

The Pi Musicbox software is used to make the magic happen and the results are just as good as any off the shelf product.

5) Get Whatsapp on your Raspberry Pi

Whatsapp has become one of the most popular cross-platform messaging service with over 600 million users. Now you can send messages directly from the Pi thanks to a tutorial from emmeshop.

All you need to do is to install the latest version of Raspbian, enter a few lines of code and confirm registration using your mobile.

6) Customised picture frame

Digital picture frames are becoming increasingly common but there are ways you can customise them. If you’ve got a spare monitor or an existing digital picture frame with a USB connection, the chances are you can connect your Raspberry Pi to it with a USB-HDMI adaptor. 

Cameron Wiebe has come up with some scripts which allow the Pi to automatically download pictures from Deviant Art everyday and display them in a slideshow.

7) Treasure Box

Another superb project to work on with kids is the Treasure Box which, can be opened with facial recognition.

Tony Dicola has created comprehensive instructions to bring this to life. You’ll need to invest in a Raspberry Pi camera, servos and also box.

8) Power Cat Feeder

We all love our animals, but sometimes an automated pet feeder sounds like a pretty nifty thing to have around the house.

That's what David Bryan did when he found himself going out of town without a cat-sitter, contemplating just leaving a big bowl of food out.

With his Power Cat Feeder project, however, he could make sure they didn't overeat before going hungry. Presumably, too, it can be used to feed any animal - including humans.

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