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The Swiss Army Knife of computers — cool Raspberry Pi projects

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The vast number of different projects using a Raspberry Pi shows it is truly the Swiss Army Knife of the computer world.

Raspberry Pi is a low-cost, credit card-sized computer. Like any regular computer, you can attach peripherals like an external display, keyboard, and mouse.

The Raspberry Pi series comes in three board models: the Pi, Pi Zero, and Pi Pico. Each type of Pi comes with different features — from the bare-bones Pico to the more fully-featured Pi.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is currently the highest-end model you can get your hands on and comes in a 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB RAM version.

Unlike the Pi, the Pi Pico is not a standalone computer but rather a microcontroller.

People have used Raspberry Pi boards to build wearables, web servers, smart mirrors, digital picture displays, and control LED lighting.

Here are a few other cool Raspberry Pi projects among an ever-increasing collection of creations using the tiny computer as a foundation.

Media server

Night of the Living Dead listing on Plex

If you don’t feel like buying an Android media box, you can always opt for building your own media server using a Raspberry Pi.

There are many options for the software to stream the media, including ReadyMedia, Kodi, Plex Media Server, and OpenMediaVault.

MyBroadband recently tested Plex and found it performs very well as a media server.

Plex’s streaming service aggregation feature also makes it attractive for those not interested in running their own media servers.

Internet tracking and ad blocker

Image Credit: Linus Tech Tips

Linus Tech Tips showcased using a Raspberry Pi Zero and the Pi-hole software to make a network-level blocker for online trackers and advertisements.

Pi-hole can block ads in mobile applications and smart TVs, speeding up network performance since it blocks ads before they are downloaded.

The project works on any Raspberry Pi model, with other hardware requirements being a microSD card, and a 2.5A micro USB AC power supply.

Depending on the Raspberry Pi model you use, you might require some other components, which you can find on the LTT blog.

Air Raid Siren Monitor

Maker Dr2mod combined an e-ink display with a Raspberry Pi Zero W to create an air raid siren monitor for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The monitor works by parsing messages in Telegram and using this information to populate a map showing the regions where air raid sirens have been reported.

The project’s Github page shows the creator configures the app to pull data every 10 seconds from https://sirens.in.ua/.

The air raid siren monitor required a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a Waveshare e-ink 2.13 display, a microSD card, and a micro-USB cable for power.

SNES Pi: Zero

Image Credit: GroupGets

This project fits an entire retro console inside a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) cartridge.

The creator opted for a Raspberry Pi Zero W since it is powerful enough to run “pretty much any game pre-N64” and its small size factor.

The SNES Pi: Zero runs the RetroPie operating system, which emulates a wide variety of classic video games, including NES, Sega Genesis, Gameboy, and Nintendo 3DS titles.

MyBroadband is no stranger to retro gaming projects, as we managed to play Doom on a Raspberry Pi Pico with only 2MB of storage.

Intruder alarm

Image Credit: The MagPI

You can build a simple intruder alarm using a Raspberry Pi, a laser sensor, a sound sensor, an LED, an active piezo buzzer, and jumper wires.

The alarm alerts you when the beam is broken or when the device detects sound.

The receiver on the laser sensor is only sensitive to the light from the laser beam, so no other visible light will trigger it.

For a thorough walkthrough, you can view The MagPi’s guide.

Sun Tracker

Image Credit: Dr2mod

Another e-ink-based project from Dr2mod is a sun tracker.

The project calculates and shows the sun’s angle relative to the user’s position on Earth, the sunrise and sunset, and the Earth’s position around the sun.

It also displays the time and the position of the moon relative to the Earth, based on the user’s location.

The project creator used a Raspberry Pi Pico, a precision real-time clock module (DS3231), a Waveshare e-Paper 3.7 display, a Pimoroni lithium polymer SHIM battery charge controller, and a lithium polymer 2000mAh 103450 battery.

Robot that detects cracks in Railroad tracks

Image credit: SVSEmbedded

SVSEmbedded developed a robot that runs on railway tracks to detect cracks that could potentially lead to train derailments.

To create the robot, SVSEmbedded used an infrared (IR) sensor, alarm, and GSM and GPS modules hooked up to a Raspberry Pi Pico.

When the 4-wheeled robot detects a crack with its IR sensor, it sends a signal to the Raspberry Pi Pico, which activates an alarm.

Following this, the GSM module sends an SMS alert to a phone number with location data from the GS module.


Now read: I built a web server using a Raspberry Pi — and hosted my own website on it

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