Best Raspberry Pi Projects for December 2018: The tastiest Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi Zero projects to try baking today. From beginner builds to more advanced Pi uses, all the delicious ideas you need are right here to get making.
Editor8217;s Note: The Raspberry Pi Foundation has just revealed a new board, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+, which is a slimmed down version of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. We8217;ll be updating this guide in due course and adding new projects to try with the updated microcomputer, which boasts a faster processor and improved wireless specs, but all the Raspberry Pi 3 projects below should work with both the Model A+ and Model B+.
From giving the tech of yesteryear a modern spin to smartening up household appliances, there are few things the wondrous Raspberry Pi credit-card-sized computer can’t achieve with a little ingenuity and elbow grease.
The latest-generation Raspberry Pi 3 offers more power than ever, while the tiny £5 Raspberry Pi Zero and £10 Raspberry Pi Zero W (which includes built in Wi-Fi) are ultra-affordable wonders, making the possibilities nearly endless.
- An Amazon Alexa-powered dash cam
- An electric skateboard
- A disposable GIF camera
- An electronic chess board
- A Kodi media centre
- A DIY NES Classic Mini
- A digital DJ system
- Automated entrance music
- A robot arm
- Multiroom audio for under £100
- A walkie-talkie
- A film-to-digital transfer system
- A tiny retro games console
- A magic mirror
- A mini retro Macintosh
The Dride is a Raspberry Pi-powered dashboard camera with Amazon Alexa skills built in. It combines the Pi’s camera module with custom built open source software and a mobile app that leverages your mobile data plan to upload footage to a cloud DVR (don’t worry, files are small).
It’ll also capture license plates, give out warnings if you’re swerving and alert you if in danger of a frontal collision. It also hands free messaging and the ability to sync with Google Maps and Spotify (via the mobile app) enabling you to control navigation and music while keeping your eyes on the road.
It failed to reach its lofty $100,000 funding goal on Kickstarter, but the team behind the idea has vowed to push on. The good news is the platform is open source, so you can build your own model using either a Pi 3 or Pi Zero W – we8217;d recommend the former due to its added oomph – and, hopefully one day, benefit from an ecosystem of apps from third-party developers.
Check out the full Dride starter guide here.
The brains is the £5 Raspberry Pi Zero, while your speed is controlled by a Nintendo Wii Remote over Bluetooth. There’s a motor from Alien Power Systems attached to the rear axle, plus a speed controller from the same company, and a battery offering a range of 10km.
3) Disposable GIF camera
The Pix-E, created by Nick Brewer, is a disposable camera that can be used to create animated GIF files.
It uses a Pi Camera module and a custom build complete with shutter and a battery pack. A little software wizardry via tools such as PiCamera, GraphicsMagick, and GifCam and – hey presto! – homemade GIFs that can then be easily processed and shared.
The case is 3D-printed and there are even some paper wrappers to print out to give the camera a 8217;90s retro feel.
The art of playing chess is studying the board, seeing things from different angles, and keeping your finger on that piece until you’re absolutely sure you’re not walking into a trap. A computer chess program just doesn8217;t come close.
Well now, thanks to the Raspberry Pi Zero – plus a touchscreen, a few magnets, some LEDs and some software wizardry – you can play against a computer on a real wooden board.
It uses an open-source chess engine called Stockfish, which allows players to choose the difficulty level – novice to grandmaster – and set the personality of the opponent, as well as register all of the moves.
Each piece has a magnet connected to the bottom, which tracks it from the beginning of the game. The computer responds by lighting an LED under the piece it wishes to move, as well as the square to which it wishes to move it to.
You8217;ll add connectivity to your Pi Zero with a USB Wi-Fi adapter (or just use the slightly more expensive Zero W), which makes setup relatively straightforward and also enables you to configure a smartphone remote that lets you control media, install add-ons and navigate content.
The NES Classic Mini was a huge hit, but it’s still pretty hard to come by and – without some serious hacking – is limited to the 30 games it comes pre-loaded with. Besides, if you want one in 2017, you8217;re going to have to pay top, top dollar.
One of our favourite things about the Raspberry Pi is its ability to bridge generations and give new life to older tech. This is illustrated perfectly by this low cost film transfer system that can convert old reels into digital footage.
The Pi Film Capture uses the Raspberry Pi Zero and Camera module and hooks them up to a Super-8 cinema projector. Joe8217;s system uses a step motor to capture a still image of each frame. Images are processed and stitched back together with FFmpeg.
However, there was still much more work to do. In a blog post he writes: 8220;Excited by this success, I started capturing films, but it soon became unbearably tedious. First, I had to run the system more slowly than I expected (under a frame per second) to ensure consistent behavior from the motor and accommodate delays caused by the Pi’s slow file system.
8220;I also had no way of easily viewing images and adjusting camera settings midcapture, so I found myself having to recapture entire reels with new settings. Most worrying, after a few reels it was clear that the Pi camera’s relatively low dynamic range relative to that of the films was wiping out a lot of detail in high-contrast scenes.8221;
As a solution, he deployed software called Open CV. This takes multiple photos of the same frame at different exposures for a HDR effect. The result is those irreplaceable family archives are now preserved forever in the digital realm.
The Raspberry Pi has started an arms race among makers to create the smallest, coolest and quirkiest retro games console ever. Right now, we have a new champion.
After building a functioning but messy version last year, ‘Wermy’ took-up 3D printing to design a proper case for the components, added a better screen, USB sound and a hinge to hold the display portion in place while playing. The presence of the new Pi Zero W brings integrated Wi-Fi, making it easier to freshen up the games and software.
It8217;s hardly the same as using a 5K iMac, but it8217;s a vaguely functional mini-machine that runs the Docker open-source software platform alongside a service called resin.io.
It8217;s a fairly technical project that involves some advanced coding – and soldering, if you haven8217;t upgraded to the Pi Zero W – but if you8217;re up for a challenge, Hermanns details the entire build over on his blog here.
The Raspberry Pi 3 is more powerful than ever, offering a little more oomph for your projects. In most cases, you won8217;t require that level of power, but the additional connectivity options and increased processing speed compared to the Pi Zero are often essential.
With this setup at a party or event, all a DJ needs is a USB stick loaded with tunes, rather than an expensive laptop full of music, or a box full of vinyl.
It’s just a case of popping in the USB stick, selecting the tracks from a connected touchscreen, and then dropping the needle on a control vinyl. The Raspberry Pi 3 offers real-time performance that8217;s easily a match for a laptop-based system, according to creator Danial James.
The PiDeck is easy to build, the proprietary software is freely available on GitHub, and the end product promises to provide an affordable (build cost is $182, or about £150) solution for starter DJs.
Since first witnessing Randy 8216;Macho Man8217; Savage walk down the aisle to 8216;Land of Hope and Glory8217; at WrestleMania VIII, I’ve dreamt of having my very own entrance song. Now, thanks to the the geezers at redpepper, the dream is real.
Doorjam connects a web-connected Pi to the aux-out of a speaker. A little bit of coding nous then taps into Spotify’s web API to provide the tunes, while the Pi uses Bluetooth to assess your proximity.
If you’re after a more straightforward, yet equally rewarding build, the MeArm Pi is a great place to start. This robotic arm project has been created specifically for the Pi, and comes in the form of a kit that’s easy for both kids and adults to assemble.
4) Multiroom audio for under £100
Although there are now more affordable multiroom audio solutions – such as using multiple Chromecast Audio dongles – they aren8217;t cheap. Thankfully, one Pi enthusiast has put together a four-room setup for under £100.
Thanks to a Raspberry Pi loaded with the Pi-MusicBox software, a USB digital-to-analogue converter and some wireless receivers, jezsinglespeed can now stream Spotify tunes to the existing speakers around his home with minimum fuss.
Related: Ultimate multiroom audio guide
By now, you8217;ve probably seen Stranger Things on Netflix and have probably made it a good way through season 2. In that case you8217;ll have been reminded of how unspeakably cool walkie-talkies are.
The talkiepi has been built using a Raspberry Pi 3, USB speakerphone, some basic electronic components (push-button with LED, GPIO header connector, resisters, wires, and so on) and a super-cool, retro-looking 3D-printed case.
Chote uses the open-source Mumble voice-communication protocol, which powers in-game chat between PC gamers.
There are a host of Raspberry Pi-type magic mirror projects on sites like Instructables and an active community of people building nodes that show calendar items, news headlines, traffic information and, of course, custom “Hey, good lookin!” messages.
To build one, you’ll need a Raspberry Pi (the Pi 3 and Pi 2 are both supported), a two-way mirror and an LCD monitor (perhaps an old TV you’ve since replaced with a 4K beast?) and some open source software like the MagicMirror2.
Seen any awesome Raspberry Pi projects recently? Tweet us @TrustedReviews and we8217;ll add them to this list.