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6 top uses of a Raspberry Pi

By Tim Fuell - November 2, 2012

If you’ve not yet heard of a Raspberry Pi, where have you been? If you’ve not yet got a Raspberry Pi, why not? If you think you don’t want a Raspberry Pi, you soon will!

Raspberry Pi is the brand name of a set of small but powerful computers (about the size of a normal pack of cards) that come effectively as a circuit board with all the connections but without a cover. Being basic they therefore are cost-effective – less than £40 – making them even more tempting for some off-the-wall projects. Designed to help entice young people back towards the fun of computer programming, they have already gained a cult status, both amongst the younger generation but also many of those looking to re-live their ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro childhoods and those who see their massive potential.

To show why they’re such a hit, we’ve dug out six of the top projects we’ve found on the internet where people are using Raspberry Pis:

Create a voice-controlled robot

Ok so you need a robotic arm, but if you don’t have one lying around, they are apparently fairly easy to find on the internet. This aerospace engineer has used his Raspberry Pi to offer speech recognition to a project that then moves his robot just as he asks. Not exactly StarWars droids but have a look at the video to see it in action.

Create a high-altitude Weather droid

David Akerman used a Raspberry Pi to send back pictures from 40 kilometres up in the atmosphere above Southern England, riding on a high altitude weather balloon. Take a look at the photographs which are pretty impressive in their own right, let alone knowing it was all thanks to a Raspberry Pi.

Create a KindleBerry Pi

The Raspberry Pi comes without a monitor but is easy to connect using monitors or TVs you already have, yet that hasn’t stopped people finding innovative ways of displaying what they are creating on their machine. Wanting a lightweight, space-saving travelling machine, this bright spark created a hybrid between an old Kindle and their Raspberry Pi.

Create an arcade machine

The UK version of crowd-funding site KickStarter officially launched this week and first of the projects looking for funding and picking up much attention in just days, has been the Picade a project that creates arcade style cabinets around Raspberry Pis to create the ultimate fun gaming machine. So if you don’t feel capable of getting hands-on with a Raspberry Pi – seriously it is easy to pick-up – then investing in Picade could be a great way to get involved in the Raspberry Pi trend.

Create a drinks vending machine

Yes, the Caribou is powered by a Raspberry Pi and keeps track and regulates consumption of your drinks cans. So if you live in a shared house where some people ‘share’ more than others now you can make dispensing a little more organised and a little more fun.

Build a Supercomputer

Down at the University of Southampton they’ve been having lots of fun but all in the name of research. Some Lego (yes, coloured plastic bricks) and a series of Raspberry Pis and hey presto, a super-computer. The rack and stack system links the Raspberry Pi computers together, harnessing their power and making super-computing affordable. They’ve even published a step-by-step guide so others can give it a try too.

So that’s just six of the best that we’ve found, but there are countless others. Let us know your favourite.