January 15, 2021•919 words
Ever since the first version was released in 2012, the Raspberry Pi has been a staple piece of kit for professionals, hobbyists, educators and everyone in between. And for good reason, it's small, low power, affordable but extremely versatile. There are of course other single board computers on the market, but the Pi has a strong community behind it and provides a good balance between capabilities, form factor and price.
Raspberry Pi Projects
Here is a curated list of projects that I have used, enjoyed and would recommend for anyone looking to put their Pi to use.
There's nothing too complicated here, so this should also provide a good starting point for beginners. Everything here is fully open source and backed by strong communities with large user bases.
- Pi-Hole - Network-wide DNS-based ad blocker
- RetroPi - Retro game emulator
- Magic Mirror - Easy modular smart mirror project
- Pi-KVM - Easy and fully-featured KVM-over-IP
- OctoPrint - 3D printer remote controller interface
- PiMusicBox - An all-in-one streaming device with Spotify support (see also PiCorePlayer or Balena Sound)
- SonicPi - Code-based music creation tool
- Kiwix Hotspot - An off-grid WiFi hotspot serving up all the world's knowledge (Wikipedia, StackExchange, TED, the Gutenburg Library and more)
- PiVPN - Super simple OpenVPN or WireGuard server
- P4wnP1_aloa - All-in-one highly customizable Pi Zero attack platform (see also PwnPi, a pen test drop box)
- MotionEye - Easy multi-camera CCTV system
- RaspiBlitz - Run a BTC lightning node (see also Umbrel or RaspNode and this tutorial)
- NextCloudPi - Self-host a local file server, with tons of useful plugins available
- Audio-Reactive-LED-Strip - Create lighting effects in time with music
- BrewPi - Fully automated brewery controller
- RaspberryShake - Earthquake monitoring with seismographs and infrasound
- Sensor.Community - Host a Pi environment sensor, using the Enviro Air Quality pHAT
- RpiITX - RF transmitter 5 KHz to 1500 MHz
- PiAware - ADS-B aircraft tracking from FlightAware (see also Startus ADS-B)
- Pirate Box - Anonymous offline mobile file-sharing and communications system
- MoBro - An external resource monitor screen for your PC
- Mycroft AI - Privacy-respecting AI voice assistant similar to Alexa. You can also build a full enclosure out of the developer kit. (Alternatively, build a Google Home, using Voice Kit or an Alexa)
There is almost no limit to what you can do with a Pi, this list is just intended to serve as an example and a provide a starting point.
Raspberry Pi can also be used as a normal computer; either a desktop, mini handheld or headless as a server. You're not just limited to Raspberry Pi OS, it also works very well with Debian, FreeBSD, Arch, Kali, Slackware and Ubuntu to name a few.
For more specific use cases, there's also Diet Pi (super light-weight OS specifically for single-board computers), OpenElec (lightweight system for running a Kodi media center), Windows IoT Core, OCMC (media center), Emteria Android (for Android) and Chromium OS (similar to open source alternative to Chrome OS), Nems (for network monitoring) and many more
Once running an OS of your choice, the Pi is also perfect for self-hosting Linux applications. For example;
- Home Assistant - Smart home dashboard and controller
- OpenMediaVault - Network attached storage with plugins
- NextCloud - Full productivity platform
- Plex - Media server
- Sonar - Smart Media Downloading for BitTorrent
- NetData - Real-time system resource monitoring
- StreamLink - Stream your PC games to your TV (or your Plex content, with RasPlex)
... and tons more
If you're interested in self-hosting multiple apps, or using your Pi as a little home server, then check out Home Lab OS by Nick Busey, it makes correctly configuring a complex lab as easy as running a single command.
Tools for Flashing SD Card/ USB
For flashing an OS to you're Pi's SD card or USB: Official Pi Imager, Etcher or use the dd (CLI utility on Unix systems). Rufus and Win32 Disk Imager are also good utilities, but only available on Windows.
To backup you're Pi's SD card of USB, you can also use
dd (the same as cloning, but in reverse). For example:
sudo dd bs=4M if=/dev/sdb of=PiOS.img
sudo dd bs=4M if=PiOS.img of=/dev/sdb
More Project Ideas & Tutorials
The following projects are a bit more hands-on
- Truly WiFi extender - A very performant and inexpensive WiFi repeater solution: via Instructables by @mrtejas99
- Print Server - Turn any old printer into an internet-connected WiFi printer: via makeuseof.com by Christian Cawley
- YouTube Streaming Bird Box: via Instructables by @buestad
- Smart Glasses with a treansparent OLED display: via Instructables by @Bradley_Campbell
- 3D-Printed Mini Macintosh PC: via Instructables
- Mini Desktop PC with the Pi 4: via Instructables by @thediylife
- Internet Radio Player - Stream content from Pandora's Radio: via Instructables by @Ayy
- Raspberry Pi Zero Cherry MX Split Mechanical Keyboard: via Instructables by Gosse Adema
- Step-by-step Pi NAS with OpenMediaVault: via Instructables by @araymbox
- Distraction-Free Writing Machine: via Instructables by @CameronCoward