10 Mind-Blowing Projects Made With A Tiny $35 Computer

Raspberry Pi Beet Box

Photo: Scott Made This

Raspberry Pi, the $35 Linux computer that’s just a tad bigger than a business card, has been phenomenally well-accepted in its first year on the planet.First released in February, 2012, it’s makers say they will soon sell their one millionth unit.

Thanks to its low cost (there’s also a $25 version), the tiny computer has become very popular with hobbyists, or “makers,” who prefer to create their own gadgets. It’s even got its own app store.

It turns out, you can do a lot with a very basic PC. Each Pi includes an ARM-based CPU; a graphics processor; and a few ports and pins to connect it to other electronics.

Phone-activated coffee machine

German developer Sascha Wolter got together with a few friends and hacked a Nespresso coffee machine by connecting it to a Raspberry Pi.

They set it up so they could call the coffee maker on the phone and order it to start brewing.

Wearable computer glasses

These may not look as cool as the wearable computers that Google is whipping up, but they did win developer Jarred Glickstein first prize in the the Instructables Raspberry Pi contest last month.

The total project cost him $382, including a wireless keyboard and mouse. His glasses are the monitor. Together, it's a fully functional PC.

Old-fashioned coin-operated arcade game

A lot of people use Pi to run old-fashioned arcade games. But Darren J and his buddies took it one step further and built a whole coin-operated video-arcade cabinet, complete with buttons and joysticks. It wasn't easy.

Here's a picture of the arcade cabinet running the vintage game 'Track And Field.'

A commercially available Pi arcade cabinet is in the works thanks to this Kickstarter project.

Hand-held arcade cabinet

If you'd rather carry your retro video game in your pocket, then the Pi project from a hacker named Spritesmods is for you.

It plays old-school arcade games on a tiny 2.4' display.

A dolly for taking time-lapse photos

A professional-quality dolly for taking time-lapse images can set you back $650 or more. But Rick Adam built one controlled by a Raspberry Pi for pennies on the dollar.

He's posted instructions on a website showing anyone how to do it using cheap, easily obtained materials.

Carputer, a touchpad computer for your car

If you drive an older car that doesn't have a big infotainment system, there's a fix for that. Quite a few people have built car computers from Pi.

Here's one with a touch screen as shown off by 'Bruschetta78' on YouTube.

It connects with the car's stereo system, too.

Taking pictures from space

Dave Akerman and his buddies used Pi to build a high-altitude balloon. That's a weather balloon all tricked out with GPS, camera, and other sensors.

They send it up into the atmosphere to take photos from space and collect weather data.

Then they chase it down with their cars as it floats back to earth. It's the hobby version of being a storm chaser. They call this hobby 'HABing.'

A digital wallet

A hobbyist who calls himself Fanquake used Pi to make a Bitcoin 'wallet.'

Bitcoin is a digital currency that can be used instead of dollars or euros to buy stuff on the Internet at websites that accept it.

Since Bitcoins exist only in the digital world, and you can't store them in a regular bank, you need a computer to act as your wallet. Pi's credit-card-sized form factor makes it perfect for the job.

Vegetable-based music

A vegetable-based instrument? Yes. Using Pi, a touch sensor, audio amplifier and a handmade wooden box, Scott Garner invented the Beet Box.

It's a 'a simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets,' he explains and he's posted a cool video to demonstrate.

The only thing better than the Beet Box is the number of puns it lends itself to. You can't beet that.

Stream your iTunes music to your speakers

Cambridge engineering student Jordan Burgess used Pi to convert his ageing speaker system 'into the 21st century by enabling wireless streaming of music to it,' he explains.

His $35 Pi system was an alternative to buying Airport Express routers and speakers ($80--$500) or buying an Apple TV ($100) to hook up the old speakers.

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