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Raspberry Pi projects: what you can do with a Raspberry Pi

TechRadar logo TechRadar 27/03/2019 Matt Hanson
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What is Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny single-board computer designed to help people learn programming. Despite its small size and deceptively simple design, it can be used for a range of tasks as diverse as emulating classic computer games or hosting your own online photo album.

There are so many fun projects you can create with your Raspberry Pi that you might be wondering where to begin, especially if you're new to Raspberry Pi, coding and Linux, the free open source operating system that powers the Raspberry Pi.

That's why we've put together this collection of Raspberry Pi projects, which will help you not only get started with the Raspberry Pi, but also inspire you to build fun Raspberry Pi projects, such as a home media server or even your own robot.

Whichever Raspberry Pi distro you use, there’s a cool project here for you to try!

Update: We show you how to create a voice-activated assistant with your Raspberry Pi, and how to use One Time Pad cryptography! 

Getting started with the Raspberry Pi

Before you begin playing around with projects for your Raspberry Pi you'll need to do a bit of configuring, so follow these guides to get your Pi up and running.

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How to set up your Raspberry Pi

When you first unpack your Raspberry Pi you'll need to install an operating system, and the default choice for Raspberry Pi is Raspbian, which is a Linux-based OS.

This means the easiest way of setting up a Raspberry Pi is through a desktop PC running Linux. Check out our guide how to set up your Raspberry Pi in Linux to find out how to do this.

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If your desktop PC doesn't run Linux don't worry, as it's also pretty straightforward to install it from Microsoft's more popular operating system – head over to how to set up your Raspberry Pi in Windows to find out more.

How to fix Raspberry Pi boot problems

The set-up process for the Raspberry Pi should be pretty painless, and you'll be able to get started on creating projects quickly.

However, things do sometimes go wrong, so if the tiny PC isn't turning on when you first try to start it up, check out our article how to fix Raspberry Pi boot problems.

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How to install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi

There are other options for installing operating systems on the Raspberry Pi, and if you have the more recent Raspberry Pi 3 then you can install one of the most popular versions of Linux: Ubuntu.

This will give your Raspberry Pi the flexibility of a desktop PC, all in its tiny and portable form factor. If you want to give it a try, read our how to install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi guide.

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Supercharge your Raspberry Pi

To get an idea of what you can do with your Raspberry Pi, your first port of call should be our Supercharge your Raspberry Pi article, which will give you some great ideas and inspiration for Raspberry Pi projects.

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How to build an AirPlay receiver with Raspberry Pi Zero

AirPlay is great for wirelessly piping music through your home, but even basic AirPlay speakers come with a hefty price tag attached. However you can save yourself a pretty penny by building your very own AirPlay receiver with a Raspberry Pi.

Our how to build an AirPlay receiver with Raspberry Pi Zero guide will show you everything you need to know about creating your own DIY wireless speaker.

© Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

How to control the Raspberry Pi with your voice

Want to turn your Raspberry Pi into a voice-activated virtual assistant like the Amazon Echo?

In our how to control the Raspberry Pi with your voice guide we show you just that - you'll be amazed what you can do with this awesome Raspberry Pi project.

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How to install the Raspberry Pi camera module

Turn your Raspberry Pi into a camera with this add-on. We show you how to get started.

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How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre

Who needs Netflix or an expensive smart TV when you can use a Raspberry Pi to supply all your entertainment needs?

In our how to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre tutorial we'll tell you everything you need to know in order to create the ultimate media centre.

Setup a VPN on Raspberry Pi

Besides using your Raspberry as a camera or media player , you can also run a VPN on Raspberry P to protect your digital life. Top VPN providers like ExpressVPN offer simple VPN apps you can setup on your Raspberry Pi in less than 10 minutes.

Build your first game using Scratch on the Raspberry Pi

Get to grips with coding, and make your very first game using the easy-to-understand Scratch programming language, with our build your first game using Scratch on the Raspberry Pi guide.

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How to code your own adventure game in Python

One of the best things about the Raspberry Pi is that it's a great tool for learning how to code. This doesn't have to be a dry, boring affair either, as there are plenty of Raspberry Pi projects that can help you learn how to code while having fun.

Python is a widely used programming language, and it's also relatively easy to learn, so check out our guide on how to code your own adventure game in Python, which will show you how to make your own game while also learning how to code - and all you need is a Raspberry Pi!

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Turn your Raspberry Pi into a retro games console

If you'd rather play games than make them, you can relive your youth by turning your Raspberry Pi into a retro games console, enabling you to play games from consoles of the past.

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How to use an Xbox or PS4 controller with a Raspberry Pi

With your Raspberry Pi now set up to play retro games you'll want to be able to control them like in the good old days. Check out our guide on how to use an Xbox or PS4 controller with a Raspberry Pi to find out how you can hook up a controller to blast through your favourite games with.

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How to get started with Minecraft on Raspberry Pi

One of the world's most popular computer games, Minecraft, is available for the Raspberry Pi, and although it's great to play on the tiny PC, it's also a good way to learn how to code.

By using the Python language you can automate Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi to build fantastic worlds in a fraction of the time it would usually take - and it can help kids (as well as adults) learn the basics of coding.

To find out more check out our guide on how to get started with Minecraft on Raspberry Pi.

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How to use One Time Pad cryptography with a Raspberry Pi

If you want to find out more about making ultra-secure communications while tinkering with your Raspberry Pi, then our how to use One Time Pad cryptography with a Raspberry Pi project is definitely worth checking out.

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Build a robot with Raspberry Pi

Some of the coolest Raspberry Pi projects enable you to build your own robots. With our how to build a robot with Raspberry Pi guide, we'll show you how to make a simple robot in your own home.

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Build a remote control R2-D2 with the Raspberry Pi Zero

If you're a Star Wars fan then you'll love our How to build your own R2-D2 with the Raspberry Pi Zero project, which will show you how to create a working model of the iconic droid using a Raspberry Pi and an R2-D2 toy.

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Guard your home with Raspberry Pi

In our how to guard your home with Raspberry Pi tutorial we'll show you how you can create an alarm that will alert you if there's movement in your house.

While this can be used as an intruder alarm, there are other projects that you could use it for, such as studying the habits of wild animals.

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How to use a Raspberry Pi to remotely watch your home

You can also use the Raspberry Pi to broadcast a live stream of your home to help you keep an eye on it while you're away.

To find out everything you need for the project check out our how to use a Raspberry Pi to remotely watch your home guide.

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How to build a Raspberry Pi security camera

We go into more depth on using the Raspberry Pi to keep an eye on intruders in your home using the mini PC and a webcam with our how to build a Raspberry Pi security camera guide.

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How to build a texting doorbell with a Raspberry Pi

Build your very own smart doorbell that not only rings when it's pushed, but it will also send a text to your smartphone letting you know that someone is at your door.

This means you don't have to be within earshot of your doorbell if someone come around - you'll get alerted no matter where you are. Check out our guide on how to build a texting doorbell with a Raspberry Pi to find out what you need to do.

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How to build a Raspberry Pi home heating monitor

Keep an eye on your central heating and save money on your fuel bills by building a Raspberry Pi home heating monitor, rather than splashing out on an expensive bit of kit.

We'll show you everything you need to build this project that's not only useful, but can also help save you money (and the planet!).

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How to automatically water your plants with the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi can even help outside in the garden, as you can use it to check your local weather forecast and automatically water your plants if a dry spell is coming.

Once again the tiny little PC comes to the rescue and means you don't have to worry about your plants if you're away from home and unable to dash back and don a pair of wellies and a watering can.

Check out our guide on how to automatically water your plants with the Raspberry Pi to find out more.

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How to build automatic entry lights with a Raspberry Pi

One of the best things about home automation is making things easy for you. In our how to build automatic entry lights with a Raspberry Pi guide we show you how you can use your Raspberry Pi to control the lights in your house.

It can detect when you open the front door, and then automatically turn on the lights so you are greeted by a bright and welcoming home. Not only is a self-lighting house cool, but it's also a lot safer than stumbling around in the dark looking for a light switch.

How to build a Raspberry Pi security camera

We go into more depth on using the Raspberry Pi to keep an eye on intruders in your home using the mini PC and a webcam with our how to build a Raspberry Pi security camera guide. You can also build a Raspberry Pi CCTV camera network for addition home security.

You can also build a Raspberry Pi CCTV camera network for addition home security.

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Learn to program your Raspberry Pi

One of the best things about the Raspberry Pi is that it can help you (and your children) learn how to code. Check out our learn to program your Raspberry Pi guide to find out how to write simple programs and games in Python and Scratch, the two programming codes included in Raspbian.

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How to make a Mac Time Capsule with the Raspberry Pi

Time Capsules are a fancy way of describing a an external hard drive that automatically backs up your Mac. They are incredibly useful devices, but like most things Apple-related, they can be pretty expensive.

However you can build your own Time Capsule using a Raspberry Pi, which can save you money and teach you how to make the Raspberry Pi and your Mac play nicely together.

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Stream files from Raspberry Pi to a smartphone

We show you how to turn your Raspberry Pi into a file server and seedbox for torrents, and then access them on your mobile device in our how to stream files from Raspberry Pi to a smartphone guide.

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Remotely control your Raspberry Pi

Give your Raspberry Pi more freedom by untethering it from a monitor and controlling it remotely.

We'll show you all you need to know in our how to remote control your Raspberry Pi guide.

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Use a Raspberry Pi to browse anonymously

Here's another great example of the versatility of the Raspberry Pi – we show you how to use a Raspberry Pi to browse anonymously using Tor.

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How to turn the Raspberry Pi into a wireless printer server

Don't bother splashing out on a fancy network-enabled printer, as you can use your existing printer and share it with other computers on your home network by turning a trusty Raspberry Pi into a dedicated printer server.

Check out our tutorial on how to turn the Raspberry Pi into a wireless printer server to find out how to put together this handy Raspberry Pi project.

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