What To Do With A Raspberry Pi

Want to buy a Raspberry Pi? Not sure what to do with a Raspberry Pi? Here is a guide for beginner for some ideas on a Raspberry Pi project. This post will detail some of the most popular, widely supported raspberry pi projects. Hopefully this post will give you an idea of what and how to set up a Raspberry Pi once you decide to buy one. Check out these popular projects.

XMBC (Xbox Media Center)

An XMBC Pi is a great way to get started with Raspberry Pi. This project is easy and very simple to set up. The hardest part will be deciding exactly where to draw the line. More about that later. For starters you will need to decided what flavor of XMBC to download. Here are a few options, OpenELEC and RASPBMC. Once you decided on a Linux OS you simply download it and burn the image to your SD-Card. After that you can simply boot up your Pi, walk through the installation guide, and you will have a media center up and running.

Here are a few considerations to get the most out of your XMBC Pi project. Do you want to have a central location to store all of your media? Do you have the ability to plug in ethernet? If not, a WiFi dongle is going to be your best friend. You will need to configure the WiFi dongle and when I used OpenELEC it was extremely easy. Once you have the internet connect you can take files from your  LAN and share them with your media center. I used AirPlay to toss music up to my TV and stream it from my NAS in my back room. Which brings me to the next project.

A Pi NAS (Network Attached Storage)

What to do with a Raspberry Pi when you want to take the computer chip and use it to network all the devices in your home network. The Raspberry Pi truly is an amazingly functional piece of hardware. What to do with a Raspberry Pi? Turn it into a NAS for all of your files. It is best to have an external hard drive for the actual storage of files and to do that an external powered hard drive is your best bet so you don’t draw too much power from the Pi. You can run a Samba share over the Raspberry Pi. First you will need to instasll Raspbian which is a Linux distro of Debian. Once you have the OS up and running, it is best to configure it to be NAS friendly. In this post I will only generally talk about the process in which you will need to create a NAS. If you want to complete the project here is an excellent guide to get you started.

Essentially you will need to format your external hard drive, it is easiest to format it as NTFS and do it before plugging it into the Pi. Once that is configured, mount the drive, enable a Samba share and connect your Pi user with the hard drive.

Raspberry Pi Web Server

Some have argued that a Raspberry Pi doesn’t have enough hardware capabilities to run a web server. However, plenty of people have turned their Pi into a fully functional web server and even ran a database heavy instance of WordPress on it. The Raspberry Pi is a great tool to learn coding. If you want to program you can use the Pi to learn Python or other flavors of computer programming. If you want to get into web design and HTML then what better way to then turning up a web server, installing the necessary files, and seeing your HTML in a browser served up from your Pi. You will need to decide what type of stack you will want to run. Perhaps the best plan of attack would be to use Nginx, PHP, and MySQL. I have written blog posts on how to do this in the past, but the best one I have found is at Raspi Press. Follow the tutorial and you will see how easy it is to make a Raspberry Pi into a web server.

Install A Camera On The Pi

Being able to attach a camera to a Raspberry Pi is a great project for two types of people. Someone who wants to have a low budget mobile camera, and someone who wants to have some home security. There are numerous accessories that can be found in the Raspi Bakery shop that can be used with the camera. There are wall mounts, cases for underwater, and even a microscope. There are numerous projects that utilize Pi Cameras for all types of purposes. I have never installed a camera to my Pi but it looks as simple as plugging in the GPIO pins and configuring the connect on your Pi. What you do with your Pi after that is up to you. If you have a great idea or camera project drop us a line and we will take a look at it. Raspberry Pi cameras are a great way to learn some Python. You can use python or any programming language to take pics on a set interval, and send the pictures to a specific folder on your Pi. I would be interested if you could take a Raspberry Pi, hook up a motion detecting sensor, and write a script that when the motion sensor is activated a snapshot is taken and then using a WiFi dongle sent to a Google Drive folder. Once sent, a email is sent notifying the capture. Could be a cool home security camera project. Hopefully I can update this post with a camera project in the near future.

Raspberry Pi Emulator Project

What to do with a Raspberry Pi for the gamer in all of us? This is a simple project now that RetroPie exists. We can install an emulator based OS on a separate SD-card and plug it in when we want to play games, and then install an SD-card with another project on this list when we want to use our Pi for more than one project. A NES Pi is simple enough but it takes a little bit of configuration. I am currently waiting for parts from my shop and I will install the OS and get it up and take a few picture. If you want to find the parts to make this project, check out the Raspi Bakery shop for all the controllers, SD cards, cables, and Pi supplies and accessories you need.