9 min read

It’s 2019 and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what a Raspberry Pi is. A series of credit-card-sized board computers, initially developed to promote computer science in schools, has now released its Raspberry Pi 4 Model B in the market yesterday.

Read More: Raspberry Pi 4 is up for sale at $35, with 64-bit ARM core, up to 4GB memory, full-throughput gigabit Ethernet and more!

Since its release in 2012, Raspberry Pi has had several iterations and variations. Today it has become a phenomenon, it’s the world’s third best-selling, general-purpose computer. It’s inside laptops, tablets, and robots. This year its offering students and young people an opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space, by writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers aboard the International Space Station. Developers around the world are using different models of this technology to implement varied applications.

What do you do with your Raspberry Pi?

Following the release of Raspberry Pi 4, an interesting HN thread on applications of the Raspberry Pi exploded with over a thousand comments and over 1.5k votes. The original thread poster asked, “I have Raspberry Pi and I mainly use it for VPN and piHole. I’m curious if you have one, have you found it useful? What do you do with your Raspberry Pi?

Below are some select use cases from the thread.

Innovative: Raspberry Pi Zero transformed a braille display into a full-feature Linux laptop

A braille user transformed a braille display into a full-feature Linux laptop, using a Raspberry Pi Zero. The user used a braille display which featured a small compartment with micro-USB and converted it into a ARM-based, monitorless, Linux laptop with a keyboard and a braille display. It can be charged/powered via USB so it can also be run from a power bank or a solar charger, thus potentially being able to run for days, rather than just hours, without needing a standard wall-jack. This helped the user to save space, power and weight.

Monitor Climate change effects

Changes in climate have been affecting each and everyone of us, in some way or the other. Some developers are using Raspberry Pi innovatively to tackle these climatic changes.

Monitoring inhouse CO2 levels

A developer working with the IBM Watson Group states that he uses several Raspberry Pis to monitor CO2 levels in his house. Each Raspberry Pi has a CO2 sensor, with a Python script to retrieve data from sensor and upload it to a server, which is also a Raspberry Pi. Later, on detecting that his bedroom has high level of CO2, he improved ventilation and reduced the CO2 levels around.

Measuring conditions of coral reefs

Nemo Pi is a Nemo foundation’s technology, which works as an underground weather station. It uses Raspberry Pi computers to protect coral reefs from climate change by measuring temperature, visibility, pH levels, and the concentration of CO2 and nitrogen oxide at each anchor point.

Checking weather updates remotely

You can also use the Raspberry Pi for ‘Weather Monitoring’, to check the changes in the weather remotely using a smartphone. The main conditions in the weather monitor are the temperature, humidity, and the air quality. Raspberry Pi 3 model B, can be programmed such that it takes data from Arduino, and depending on the data acquired, the cameras are actuated. The Pi receives data from sensors and uploads it to the cloud so that appropriate action can be taken.

Making Home Automation feasible

Raspberry Pi has been designed to let you create whatever you can dream of, and of course developers are making full use of it. There are many instances of developers using Raspberry Pi to make their home automation more feasible.

Automatic pet door drive

A developer have used this technology to install a fire-protection-approved door drive for their pets. It is used along with another Raspberry Pi which analyzes a video stream and detects the pet. If the pet is in the frame for ‘n’ amount of time, a message is sent to the Pi connected to the door drive, which opens up slightly, to let the pet in.

Home automation

Raspberry Pi 3 model works with the Home Assistant with a Z-Wave USB Dongle, and provides climate, covers, lights, locks, sensors, switches, and thermostats information.

There are many takers of the RaZberry card, which is a tiny daughter card that sits on top of the Raspberry PI GPIO connector. It is powered by the Raspberry PI board with 3.3 V and communicates using UART TTL signals. It supports home automation and is not only compatible with all models of Raspberry Pi, but also with all third party software.

Watering a plant via a reddit bot!

There’s another simple instance where a subreddit has control over the watering of a live plant. The Pi runs a reddit bot that reads the votes, and switch on the pump to water. It also collects data about sunlight, moisture, temp and humidity to help form the decision about watering.

Build easy electronic projects

Raspberry Pi can be used to learn coding and to build electronics projects, and for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word processing, and browsing the internet to learn programming and execute projects.

Make a presentation

Rob Reilly, an independent consultant states that he uses Raspberry Pi in his Steampunk conference badge while giving tech talks. He plugs it in the HDMI, powers up the badge and runs slides with a nano-keyboard/mousepad and LibreOffice. He says that this works great for him as it displays a promotional video on it’s 3.5″ touch-screen and runs on a cell phone power pack.

Control a 3D printer, a camera or even IoT apps

A user of Raspberry Pi states that he makes use of the Raspberry Pi 3 model to use OctoPrint.  It is an open source web interface for 3D printers which allows to control and monitor all aspects of printer and print jobs. A system architect says that he regularly uses Raspberry Pi for digital signage, controlled servos, and as cameras. Currently, he also uses a Pi Zero W model for a demo Azure IoT solutions. Raspberry Pi is also used as a networked LED marquee controller.

Read More: Raspberry Pi Zero W: What you need to know and why it’s great

FullPageOS is a Raspberry Pi distribution to display one webpage in full screen. It includes Chromium out of the box and the scripts necessary to load it at boot. This repository contains the source script to generate the distribution out of an existing Raspbian distro image.

Also a developer, who’s also the Former VP of Engineering at Blekko Inc search engine states that he uses Raspberry Pi for several purposes such as running the waveforms live software from Digilent and hooks to an Analog Discovery on his workbench. He also uses Raspberry Pi for driving a display which showcases a dashboard of various things like Nagios alerts, data trends, etc.

Read More: Intelligent mobile projects with TensorFlow: Build a basic Raspberry Pi robot that listens, moves, sees, and speaks [Tutorial]

Enjoy Gaming with Raspberry Pi

There are many Raspberry Pi-Exclusive Games, available for its users. Minecraft PE is one such game, which comes preinstalled with Raspbian. Most games designed to run natively on the Raspberry Pi are written in Python.

Raspberry Pi is being used to stream PlayStation to backups over SMB by networking the onboard Ethernet port of the Pi, to allow access to a Samba Share service running on the Pi. It allows seamless playback of games with heavy Full Motion Video sequences. When an additional support for Xlink Kai is provided to play LAN enabled games over the Pi’s WiFi connection, it enables smooth connection for lag-free multiplayer on original hardware. A user on Hacker News comments that he uses RetroPie, which has a library of many interesting games.

Loved not only by developers, but also by the general public

These 35$ masterpieces of Raspberry Pi give big power in the hands of someone with little imagination and a spare of electronics. With its fast processing and better network connectivity, even beginners can use Raspberry Pi for practical purposes.

A college student, on Hacker News claims that he uses a Raspberry Pi 3b+ model to automate his data entry job by using Python and Selenium, which is a portable framework for testing web applications and provides a playback tool for authoring functional tests. He says that since its automated, it allows him to take long coffee breaks and not worry about it, while travelling.

Kevin Smith, the co-founder of Vault states that his office uses a Raspberry Pi and blockchain NFTs to control the coffee machine. An owner of the NFT, once authenticated, can select the coffee type on their phone which then signals the Raspberry Pi to make the particular coffee type, by jumping the contacts that was previously used to be pressed by the machine’s buttons.

Another interesting use of Raspberry Pi is by a user who used the Raspberry Pi technology to get real-time information from the local transit authority, and the GPS installed buses to help those stranded at the bus station. Raspberry Pi 3 models can also be installed in a Tesla car within the internal network as a bastion box, to run a software which provides interaction with the car’s entertainment system.

Read More: Build your first Raspberry Pi project

Last year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched a new device called the Raspberry Pi TV HAT, which lets you decode and stream live TV. It connects to the Raspberry Pi via a GPIO connector and has a port for a TV antenna connector. Tensorflow 1.9 has also announced that they will officially support Raspberry Pi, thus enabling users to try their hand on live machine learning projects.

There’s no doubt that, with all its varied features and low priced computers, developers and the  general public have many opportunities to experiment with Raspberry Pi and get their work done. From students to international projects, Raspberry Pi is being used assuredly in many cases.

Read Next:

You can now install Windows 10 on a Raspberry Pi 3

Raspberry Pi opens its first offline store in England

Setting up a Raspberry Pi for a robot – Headless by Default [Tutorial]

Subscribe to the weekly Packt Hub newsletter. We'll send you the results of our AI Now Survey, featuring data and insights from across the tech landscape.