The Raspberry Pi is the micro PC everyone is talking about. It is a credit card sized computer and its creator, Eben Upton designed it with the specific aim of creating a low-cost device that would help improve people’s understanding of hardware and their programming skills. Originally inspired by the BBC Micro that was introduced in 1981, Raspberry Pi has quickly been adopted by enthusiasts who are looking for something a bit more than just a basic microcontroller.
Although slower than a modern desktop or laptop, Raspberry Pi is still a complete LINUX computer and can be used for many different applications. Now there are many LINUX distributions that have been specially optimized for the Raspberry Pi. The most popular are the Raspbian and the Pidora distribution and both are equally suitable for beginners. Its introduction has brought about a whole host of inventive approaches, inspiring people’s creativity and there are numerous ways you can use your Raspberry Pi.
1. Automate Your Home
The Raspberry Pi can work perfectly for remotely controlling smart home products, providing an interface for control and task scheduling. Using open source home automation software, it’s possible to make a touchscreen device that will interact with your home. OpenHAB will enable you to control devices in your home using voice commands and you can set up rules for your devices through email and you can monitor sensor networks. As part of this project, you will need to build your own array of neo-pixels, which is great for adding mood lighting to your lighting schemes. Once the base model is constructed then you can always add on other devices. With OpenHAB, you’ll be able to remotely control devices through your Raspberry Pi. The main components you will need are a touchscreen as well as the parts to control the NeoPixel strip.
2. Control Your Home Lighting
If you don’t want to go as far as automating your home, then why not have something where you can easily turn your lights on and off remotely? The project is pretty simple, creating a web app for controlling your lights. Raspberry Pi is used for the interconnect connection and it requires a wireless remote control to turn the lights on and off. The trickiest thing is connecting the Raspberry Pi GPIOs to replicate pressing the buttons on the remote control. The only things you need to purchase are remote-controlled outlets, solder and ribbon cable, and a PCB board and resistors. This project requires all the kind of tools you are likely to already have at home.
3. Use Your Raspberry Pi as a Living Room PC
By hooking your Raspberry Pi to your TV, you can enjoy a multi-media experience. To do this, you simply need to download OpenELEC for your Raspberry Pi. OpenELEC is an operating systems distribution based on LINUX which is particularly suitable for using with the Raspberry Pi as a media centre. You’ll also need an SD card, a suitable power adapter and a micro USB cable.
4. Browse the Web Through Your TV
Once your Raspberry Pi is hooked up to your TV, then you can also use it as a web browser. The latest Raspberry Pi web browser is based on Epiphany, replacing Midori in Raspian Wheezy.
5. Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Camera
Turn your raspberry Pi into a camera using an eight megapixel camera board. There are two different versions available, one of which includes an infrared filter and one without.
The version with the infrared filter is proving to be especially popular for enabling people to see in the dark which is great for viewing wildlife and it also works well for security cameras. You can also get creative by using this camera to achieve some amazing camera effects.
These are just a few suggestions of how to use your Raspberry Pi. Other possible applications include using it to make a radio, a weather station, building a robot, or even motorizing a skateboard.