Sunday, March 14, is Pi Day – a holiday many people celebrate by baking a pie, memorizing as many digits of Pi as they can, or by tackling a DIY project with Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi – the small, flexible, do-anything computer – is a favorite tool among tech enthusiasts and builders. Each year we round up Raspberry Pi projects you can do at work or at home. This year, amidst the pandemic and shift to remote work, people have turned to Raspberry Pi to help them creatively deal with the challenges, while making increased time at home more enjoyable.
6 Raspberry Pi projects to try: Happy Pi Day
From extending your WiFi around the home to building a safer bike helmet or a whole-house music system, there are a number of fun Raspberry Pi projects here you can tackle this weekend – while eating pie, of course.
1. Build a WiFi extender
“My Raspberry Pi project entailed building a WiFi extender. With everyone working and learning from home at the same time, our WiFi router (albeit new) struggled to keep up with the increased load. Additionally, we needed to find places to spread out so our family wasn’t all on top of each other. However, certain areas of our house couldn’t get a good signal. While we could have just bought an extender, I thought it would be cool to build one using this helpful guide: https://pimylifeup.com/raspberry-pi-wifi-extender/. Also, it proved to be a fun learning experience and, as an added bonus, the build allowed for a custom oak case making the device blend in on a bookshelf.” – Submitted by Thomas Rhodes, data scientist and co-founder of Exam Strategist
[ You can easily learn more about Kubernetes using Raspberry Pi. Read also: How Raspberry Pi and Kubernetes work together. ]
2. Automate your home – or chicken coop
“We had standard programmable thermostats at home, but we needed something more flexible with all the time spent at home now. I was looking for a customisable solution since I didn’t want to depend on the Internet: it can get pretty cold here and it needs to keep running even if the Internet goes down. I ended up using the open source Home Assistant software as the brains of the project, deployed on a Raspberry Pi 4. The Pi does all the heavy lifting of controlling the devices in the system and hosting a small local web page, which allows us to see the status of the system and send commands. The original need was thermostats, but the system has grown to include smart plugs, dimmers, and light switches for various uses around the home. There are even a few in the coop to help with the light and heating for the chickens!” – Submitted by Cindy Potvin creator of the RobotsBench.com blog, where she detailed her home automation project.
3. Video call friends and family
“Like many people, I have found keeping connected with my family this year a challenge, especially with relatives who struggle to turn on a computer or have no Internet connection at all! So I created an Instant video call project, using a Raspberry Pi 4B, TV and webcam to talk to anyone, anywhere. With the most vulnerable people in our community needing to strictly socially isolate, we wanted anyone deploying this project to be able to set up and manage the project remotely without needing much technical assistance from the person in front of the screen. Build at home, pass it over, and all the user needs to do is plug it in.” – Submitted by Phil Wilson, hardware hacker in residence at Balena. He details his project here: https://www.balena.io/blog/put-friends-and-loved-ones-on-the-big-screen-with-this-instant-video-call-project/
4. Make a smart bike helmet
“Two of my biggest passions are bicycling and Raspberry Pi, so I figured it was about time for worlds to collide. My e-bike already has plenty of fancy features. If there’s one essential item always in need of further improvement, though, it’s my helmet. It will protect my melon if I take a spill, but only up to a point. Measuring the severity of the impact isn’t easy. Luckily, that’s where this impact force monitor for my helmet shines. The two main ingredients here are an accelerometer and a Raspberry Pi Zero W. With the final project embedded in my bike helmet, I can now measure how hard I hit my head if one of my rides ever takes a turn for the worse. It may even serve as a solid indicator of whether or not I should visit the hospital. Immediate access to the data requires a WiFi connection or mobile hotspot. But even when that’s possible, the program still logs the data, allowing me to check the results once I get back home.” – Submitted by Jonathan Frey, CMO and fitness expert at Urban Bikes Direct. He credits Jennifer Fox as the originator of the project, who’s tutorial you can find here.
5. Stream music throughout your home
“I’ve used it to build a multi-room network music streaming system. I used to own a few of the now defunct Slimdevices Squeezebox music players. Slimdevices technology was acquired and then abandoned by Logitech, however, the media server software is still maintained by a dedicated group of developers. But since the original Squeezeboxes themselves are no longer produced and getting harder to find on Ebay, you can build a really great substitute with a Raspberry Pi and a few other components. It’s an inexpensive and fun way to build a whole house music streaming system, which will play not only your own collection of music stored on a PC or NAS, but gives you access to most online streaming music services, internet radio, and podcasts. You can even hook up a turntable to your computer and stream your old vinyl LPs throughout the house.” – Submitted by George Gillies, VP operations for Insightlink Communications
6. Set up a data hub
“As someone who’s been in the data business for a while, I like a Raspberry Pi project with a slant on data. My favorite Raspberry Pi project is a data hub. It’s amazingly simple, and I love being able to see so much data simply displayed whenever I want. You just take a spare monitor or TV and mount it, then attach your Raspberry Pi. I like to have the Pi cycle between my calendar, a weather station, and a network monitor. At a glance, I can tell what meetings I have, whether I can take them outside, and if my network will support video, or if I should call in by phone.” ( For an example of how to do this with a low-cost display, read also: Track your family calendar with a Raspberry Pi and a low-power display. )– Submitted by Mark Varnas, principal consultant and founder at Red9