Discover Raspberry Pi and the power of microcomputing

From automated cat feeders to aircraft trackers, you can do a lot with a tiny, inexpensive computer.

Raspberry Pi is a tiny, credit card-sized computer that was originally designed for students to learn the basics of computing. The device is powerful, simple to use, and cost-effective — the basic model starts at around $35. So it’s no wonder it has gained a devoted following of technologists, innovators, tinkerers, and hobbyists, all constantly finding new and exciting ways of utilising microcomputing power.

The technology is used for a myriad of projects — some practical, some thought-provoking — and others that are simply for fun. Best of all, the details of many projects are shared openly online, so anyone can easily take advantage of the fantastic world of Raspberry Pi.

Retro gaming system

For anyone feeling nostalgic for retro games, Raspberry Pi can take you back to your childhood. Many old computer games from the 1980s and 1990s are available free online. Gamers are taking advantage of this to build emulators of classic gaming consoles.

Check out this guide from programmer Terence Eden, which will walk you through the process of using Raspberry Pi to turn your Xbox into a retro game console.

Multi-room sound systems

Instead of blasting the stereo in one room to fill the whole house with music, use Raspberry Pi to build a wireless streaming system that sends your music to multiple speakers in different locations. Instructables user Jezsinglespeed has developed an easy-to-follow four-step guide.

Facial recognition locks

When hooked up to a camera, Raspberry Pi can function as a facial recognition tool. Innovator Tony DiCola has an online tutorial showing how this technology can be used to create locked boxes that only open for certain people.

Aircraft tracker

You can use Raspberry Pi’s ability to receive and translate radio waves to build digital radios and radio transmitters. Stratux has taken the technology one step further, incorporating software that reads radio transmissions from nearby aircraft. With this gadget, you can discover all the planes near you, how high and fast they’re flying, and their unique call sign.

Automated pet feeder

Technologist David Bryan has used Raspberry Pi to power an automated pet feeder. This project involves a certain level of technical skill, but if you’re up for a challenge, it’s a great time saver for pet owners.

Self-updating picture frames

Digital picture frames haven’t caught on in many homes, largely because updating the gallery can often be finicky. On his website, Cameron Wiebe shows how he connects Raspberry Pi to his digital frame so it automatically downloads and displays his most recent pictures.