Raspberry Pi 2: 18 of the best projects you can try with the microcomputer
Got a Raspberry Pi 2? Here are 18 great projects to get started on
Microcomputers are great for education and fun projects – and the Raspberry Pi 2 represents one of the best of the bunch. Whether you’re a first-time coder or a tech veteran with time on your hands, the Raspberry Pi 2 is great to have because it’s so versatile. Since its release, the microcomputer has been used for pretty much everything, and is currently being used in space by Tim Peake. From creating your own bitcoin mine and setting up a pirate radio station to making a media centre for your TV, you can do it all with the Raspberry Pi. If you’ve recently picked up one of the microcomputers, here’s a list of 18 rewarding projects to sink your teeth into.
BUY NOW FROM AMAZON: Raspberry Pi 2 or Raspberry Pi 2 Starter Kit
The 18 best Raspberry Pi projects and uses:
1. Raspberry Pi projects: Make a Kodi streamer
Kodi is one of the best streaming platforms available, letting you experience local and internet-based content on anything from your smartphone to an Amazon Fire TV Stick. Oh, and it’s also available on the Raspberry Pi 2. If you want to experience the benefits of Kodi, the Raspberry Pi 2 is more than powerful enough, and installing the streaming software is pretty straightforward too.
2. Raspberry Pi projects: Create a wireless extender
Nothing highlights the versatility of a Raspberry Pi quite like this project (other than the Game Boy below). With a USB Wi-Fi dongle, a microSD card and the Raspberry Pi itself, you increase the reach of your wireless signal.
Guy Eastwood has created the excellent Pi-Point website, which takes you through everything you need to know about this project. Follow the link to find detailed documentation and free downloadable images to help you.
3. Raspberry Pi projects: Make a Game Boy
No, seriously. This is a legitimate and doable project for the more advanced user. In terms of the actual coding, it's not the most challenging – you're essentially installing an emulator on your Raspberry Pi. The hard work comes in the form of soldering the different pieces together.
Travis Brown over at XodusTech has produced a detailed log of how he brought his Game Boy back to life using a Raspberry Pi. The best thing about creating a Pi-Pocket (as he calls it) is that you're not limited to playing only Game Boy games ; the Pi-Pocket is also capable of playing NES, Sega Master System and Game Gear games, as well as popular Linux-based titles such as Doom and Duke Nukem.
4. Raspberry Pi projects: Home Arcade Box
While it's not powerful enough to run many modern games, some enterprising tech heads have twigged that the Pi is just about perfect on which to play emulators. Emulators, for those of you not in the know, are programs that allow you to play titles from older, outdated consoles such as the SNES, the Sega Genesis and even the original PlayStation using freely available ROMs.
While you can run most of these emulators from the standard Raspbian OS, the guys over at RetroPie have dedicated a huge amount of time to building a custom disk image that will do almost all of the work for you, allowing you to select and start your chosen emulator with nothing more than a USB gamepad. The legal catch is that you need to own a physical copy of the games, or it's piracy. So that means on no account should you use this as an opportunity to play all those SNES games that your mum wouldn't buy you back in 1991.
5. Raspberry Pi projects: Media centre for your TV
Setting up a Raspberry Pi as your home media centre might be the perfect project. By hooking it up to your TV via HDMI, you can get all your media in your living room without having to fork out for Apple TV. Specific operating systems such as RasPlex and RaspbMC (based on the Plex and XBMC frameworks respectively) have even been built in order to make it as easy as possible to get you started.
These systems can access remote media stored in other locations – provided you're connected to Wi-Fi – and are controllable through remote apps on your smartphone; they can even directly access services such as Netflix and Hulu to stream content to you. It combines all the functionality of a bulky, expensive media setup in a tiny form factor at a ridiculously affordable price, and we can't get enough of it. We've even written a tutorial on how to turn your Raspberry Pi into a home media centre.
6. Raspberry Pi projects: Control your stereo wirelessly
Advances in audio technology are making it increasingly easy to take your tunes with you everywhere you go. For aspiring audiophiles on a budget, the Raspberry Pi can help you realise your hi-fi dreams with a minimum of fuss, using it as a music server in a similar way to the media centres described above.
By using the RuneAudio disk image, you can connect your Raspberry Pi to your home audio setup and use it to control all of your music, whether it's stored locally, on one of your devices, or on a remote storage drive. You can search and organise your library and play tracks through your browser or smartphone, and the Pi will direct it all through your big shiny speakers. For truly superlative audio quality, you can even send the signal through a USB digital-to-analog converter for HD sound. If that tickles your fancy, have a go yourself with our guide on how to use a Raspberry Pi to control your hi-fi.
7. Raspberry Pi projects: Build a download hub
What with the internet being an almost limitless repository of digital content, it seems like we spend a frustrating amount of our lives waiting for downloads to complete. You can get around this by routing them all through a Raspberry Pi and into an external storage device.
Rather than clogging up your main computer with piles of files fighting with your everyday tasks for disk space and processor speed, use a Pi as a dedicated hub for all your torrents, streams and other downloads. This leaves you free to get on with your life while you're waiting for the entire box set of The Walking Dead to finish downloading. An added bonus is that if any malware or viruses happen to hitch a ride with your content, you can safely scrub them clean without the risk of infecting your main computer.
- Head over to our sister site, IT Pro, for more Raspberry Pi projects.
8. Raspberry Pi projects: Create a dedicated Minecraft machine
Minecraft is one of the biggest success stories of the indie games world, and was bought from the original creators by Microsoft in 2014. The sandbox construction SIM is essentially an infinite digital LEGO set, and is naturally hugely popular with kids. However, its simplistic, blocky graphics also mean it's ridiculously easy to run, and the latest versions of the default Raspbian OS come with a custom-optimised copy of the game preinstalled.
If you have children who play Minecraft and you're tired of them constantly monopolising your tablet or computer, a Raspberry Pi can be an inexpensive, durable machine that they can use for schoolwork, movies and all the digital digging they can handle. All you need is a cheap monitor, mouse and keyboard, and you can even easily confiscate it if they're using it too much.