We run through the coolest creations ever to spring from the mind of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts around the world.
The terms ‘computer programming’ and ‘engineering’ aren’t usually synonymous with the word ‘cool’. But when it comes to the Raspberry Pi, things are a little different.
No other concatenation of chipboards and transistors has fostered such creativity. From custom cases to retro game consoles, and even space adventures, the tiny computer has prompted tech savvy designers around the world to come up with ever more inspired creations.
Now that the Raspberry Pi 3 has officially arrived, with all its new hardware and performance upgrades, we’re wondering what ingenious designs are going to appear online in the near future.
In the mean time, let’s take a look at some of the coolest things people have done with their Raspberry Pis thus far.
Check out our Raspberry Pi 3 vs Pi 2 video:
1. Pi cases
Building a Raspberry Pi case has become somewhat of a phenomenon among enthusiastic Pi owners. From Lego, to wood, to cardboard, it seems every material in existence has been used in the service of providing shelter for the tiny computer.
Amigas, games console cases, and even SNES cartridges have been repurposed as Pi cases. One Imgur user managed to fit their Pi inside an N64 game case.
Related: Raspberry Pi 3 vs Pi 2
Bringing a more rugged aesthetic to the table is the PlyPi – a handmade wooden case made up of eight 3mm layers of plywood glued together.
If you're looking for a slightly more hassle-free approach, you can download a PDF of the Punnet case, which will allow you to simply print your Pi a new home, if you can find some card sturdy enough.
One of our favourites, however, has to be YouTube user renzo260’s Lego Mini NES. It not only looks cool but actually works just like an original NES.
You can get instructions on how to make your own version here.
2. Super Pi Boy 64 Mega
This creation is so cool it’s got an entire Wordpress site dedicated to its creation, on which user ‘microbyter’ explains in detail how he managed to cram a Pi inside a Gameboy case. Having bought an original Gameboy DMG from a charity shop, he found that the battery had previously exploded, making the handheld console unusable.
Related: Raspberry Pi 2
After modifying the case, a lot of soldering, configuring the screen, lining up the buttons, and installing the the RetroPie group of emulators, he got the old beast up and running. The newly revived Gameboy is capable of running Doom, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Game Gear, NES, Turbo Graphics 16, and Sega Master System emulators.
Super Pi Boy isn’t the only example of turning a Raspberry Pi into a Gameboy. In fact, it’s somewhat of a trend among nostalgic Pi owners. This Pi-Pocket is rather awesome, for example:
When Raspberry Pi 2 was launched last year, Microsoft also announced it would be bringing Windows 10 for IoT (Internet of Things) to the Raspberry Pi. Why is that cool? Because we got this demo of how Windows 10 for IoT can work in tandem with robots built using the Pi, and Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality goggles:
Whether or not something like the immediately lovable B15 is likely to roll out of an amatuer engineer’s garage any time soon is beside the point. We already know that HoloLens is designed to overlay virtual creations onto real-world objects. But seeing it in action, plotting out waypoints and scanning the environment for a virtual robot overlaid on a real one built using a Raspberry Pi… that’s just cool.
What’s more, it reminds you how powerful the deceptively simple-looking Raspberry Pi can be when paired with more advanced tech.
While B15 is great, we feel this next robot might just win you over. Using the case of an R2-D2 toy, ‘a bunch of cheap parts purchased online’, and a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian, YouTuber greensheller created a custom version of the beloved Star Wars droid.
Made as a birthday present for greensheller’s girlfriend, this thing is voice controlled and can perform a number of impressive actions on cue; from listening to and carrying out directions, to turning on it’s light, and even playing the actual Star Wars theme. It’s also capable of recognising faces and connects to Wi-Fi, because why not?
Related: What is Raspberry Pi Zero
Although things kind of get weird when the inventor tells R2-D2 he is a ‘good youth’, we have to commend him for his efforts. Somehow though, we can’t shake the feeling that this was more a gift for himself rather than ‘for his girlfriend’.
5. Pi Supercomputer
Hey, why not stick 64 of these things together? That was the epiphany a group of computational engineers at the University of Southampton had, and wouldn’t you know it, they’ve done just that.
Why? Who cares. How? By making a Lego case and chaining them all together of course. The idea of distinguished professors playing with Lego makes us somewhat concerned for Southampton Uni students. But, the team, led by Professor Simon Cox, certainly achieved their goal of building a Pi supercomputer.
What will it be used for? Well, that part isn’t really explained. This was more an exercise in seeing if something was possible or not. And why not? As a learning tool it was probably pretty useful. Apparently, the team had to build all the software on the Pi starting from a standard Debian Wheezy system image. Whatever that means, we’re sure it was hard. So hats off to Southampton Uni
6. Space Potato
What do Heston Blumenthal and Raspberry Pi have in common? Aside from both being hairless marvels, they also teamed up in order to send a potato into space. Yes, that’s right.
Related: Raspberry Pi 2 vs BBC Micro Bit
Long-time Pi enthusiast and high-altitude balloon record holder Dave Ackerman helped Blumenthal and his production team rocket a spud into the stratosphere by using a balloon, 3 GoPro cameras, and a Raspberry Pi to transmit live images.
As delightfully random as this project was, we can’t help but wish it was Heston Blumenthal himself being blasted into space, but there you go.
Have you made any cool projects with Raspberry Pi? Let us know in the comments below.