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5 of the coolest Raspberry Pi projects


Is there anything this little chip can’t do?

Raspberry Pi is the computer that just keeps on giving. Originally a clever and affordable way to teach people about the practical world of computing, this pint-sized piece of tech has proven that it’s far more than just an educational tool.

Since its creation in 2012, dedicated tech-heads have set about putting the handy little computer to task in all kinds of incredible ways. We’ve picked five of the most innovative ways you can use the Raspberry Pi to change your life – or at the very least, make it a little cooler.

5 of the coolest Raspberry Pi projects:

1. Self-build robot

Photo: Garath Halfacree / Flickr

Rolling on raspberry-powered rims // Image: Garath Halfacree / Flickr

Few things in life are cooler than building your own robot – Raspberry Pi can give you that satisfaction.

From the kit list and the cost to the construction and programming, issue 38 of MagPi magazine, which you can download digitally for free, gives you step-by-step instruction on just how you can create your very own android for $75 with the Pi included. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can invest a little more cash in a more advanced robot – just don’t create anything that might want to take over the world.

At the very least, “I’m building my own robot” will certainly break the ice at parties.

2. Voice controlled microwave

Microwaves are great and all, but wouldn’t it be better if you could just tell them how to cook your dinner? Well, innovator Nathan Broadbent did just that using a Raspberry Pi.

Inspired by a Reddit feed, he took his original microwave apart and added in a few new features including a voice command control, a clock that is automatically updated by the internet and a remote control operated by a smartphone. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he even set it up so that the microwave would actually Tweet when it finished cooking something.

And the first thing he cooked once he’d turned his microwave into a computing masterpiece? You guessed it: a raspberry pie.

3. Pi controlled Gameboy and emulator

Photo: Bryan Ochalla / Flickr

How are your soldering skills? // Image: Bryan Ochalla / Flickr

Remember the hours you spent trying to save Princess Peach? The time you invested in Tetris? Well now you can do it all again on a Raspberry Pi powered Gameboy you’ve built yourself.

The coolest part of this remarkable Raspberry innovation is that you’re not just limited to Gameboy games: you can pretty much program the emulator to play all the old classics, from Sega to GameGear.

Although this sounds like a big challenge, the coding for this particular project isn’t the difficult part, but you’ll need some pretty top level soldering skills to pull it off. XodusTech shows you how to take on this rewarding project in detail here.

4. Home automation

Raspberry Pi

A lightbulb moment for one Raspberry Pi inventor

Entertaining a special “friend” at your pad and things take a turn for the better? Don’t worry; Raspberry Pi has your back.

Through a web app, you can create your very own home automation system allowing you to control the lighting in your apartment remotely via your smartphone.

All you need is a Raspberry Pi, remote controlled outlets, some cable, solder, PCB board and some resisters, and you could potentially set up a room so you don’t even have to leave the sofa to turn down the lights. Combine this with a Raspberry Pi Powered Home Server, get some tunes on and you’ve got date night sorted at the touch of a button.

For detailed instructions, click here.

5. The first Pi in space

Dave Akerman wasn’t content with using his first Rasberry Pi to do something averagely cool, like build a robot or get his microwave on social media. He wanted to take his project to the next level, so he sent it into space. Well, not actually into space, but he got pretty damn close.

Using special thermal adhesive and heat skins, Akerman created an on-board computer using the Pi, which he then connected to a standard weather balloon. Although the tech wasn’t the ideal program for such a hazardous mission – previously Akerman used Arduino Mini Pro boards – its USB port meant that webcam access was a possibility. Live images of the earth from above – pretty cool for a tiny computer.

The Pi survived sub-zero temperatures of -50C and travelled over 30km while sending back some incredible images of the earth via payload. It seems not even the final frontier is a step too far for the Raspberry Pi.

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