With the recent release of the Raspberry Pi Zero, the popular family of tiny computers is up for another great year. This is largely thanks to its amazing community of dedicated users who are always keen on sharing their latest projects and inventions with a whole world. These projects range from simple educational concepts designed to teach basics of electronic design all to way to very practical embedded solutions that could easily be turned into actual mass market products.
We have selected top 3 creative projects that best showcase the versatility of Raspberry Pi, while still being suitable even for relative beginners. Never forget that when it comes to hardware design and prototyping, the best way to learn is to get your hands dirty and build something awesome.
Your Own Tor Router
For those who don’t know, Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis and other forms of surveillance. It’s widely used by journalists and activists from all corners of the world, but it also helps ordinary citizens and businesses to maintain confidentiality and privacy, especially when using public networks.
Your own personal Tor router gives you the ability to securely encrypt your data traffic regardless of your location and device you are using. As such, it’s perfect for security company laptops or computers of friends and family members who don’t have the technical ability to install Tor by themselves.
What You’ll Need:
To complete this project, you’ll need a few things:
- Raspberry Pi (preferably the B+ model)
- An SD card with Raspbian operating system
- A compatible Wi-Fi adapter (or two if you don’t want to use Ethernet connection)
- A power supply (portable power bank will work just fine)
Putting It All Together:
This project is very easy to put together, with the exception of Tor configuration. It essentially boils down to installing Raspbian, connecting to the Internet, configuring the Raspberry Pi to act as a public access point, and setting up Tor routing.
Please, don’t despair if all of this seems like a lot of work. The guys over at Make have put together an amazing guide that will tell you exactly what you need to do. Just stick to the instructions, and you’ll have your own personal Tor router up and running in no time.
Smart Picture Frames
Electronic picture frames are nothing new. These days, you can get a high-resolution one for a very appealing price. But purchasing one that’s fully assembled and neatly packaged takes away the fun of tinkering and just doing it yourself. This is especially true if you intend to use the finished picture frame as a gift for someone who’s close to you.
Raspberry Pi provides a fantastic platform that you can use to create a custom smart picture frame that will look and function exactly as you like. The first guide comes from Samuel Clay, who connected his Raspberry Pi to a Flickr account and configured everything to display a new picture when movement is detected. He used a LCD monitor, a USB Wi-Fi dongle, and a motion sensor to create a very compact unit that neatly integrates modern technology with personal memories.
Of course, not everybody uses Flickr to store their photos. Cameron Wiebe downloads various artwork from DeviantArt and uses his command line ability to configure it to cycle through images throughout the day and display them on an LCD screen.
Alternatively, you could just put all image files into a USB stick directly from your computer using Raspberry Picture Frame. This operating system offers a convenient way how to setup images slideshows for Raspberry Pi and comes with some pretty neat features, such as the ability to save space by displaying images from remote locations. We strongly encourage you to visit its homepage to learn more details about it.
Small, Portable Radio Transmitter
A very fun project that is suitable even for smaller children is turning the Raspberry Pi Zero into a portable radio transmitter. This project teaches the basics of soldering, Linux command line, and, most importantly, FM modulation.
All that’s required is the Pi itself, a solid wire that will act as an antenna, and a portable power source. The heart of this project is a library called Pi-FM, which uses the hardware on the Pi that is actually meant to generate signals on the GPIO pins that are transmitted as FM Radio energy. As a result, you can broadcast mono or stereo signals from a range of 1Mhz through 250Mhz. Individuals who would like even more from their new radio can use Pi-FM-RDS program, which adds a real-time RDS (Radio Data System) data generation ability.
Just be aware that FM broadcasting frequencies are restricted and licensed to individual broadcasters. Fortunately, the Pi has such a limited range that you won’t cause any harm.