7 Fun Things to Do With Raspberry Pi Electronics

7 Fun Things to Do With Raspberry Pi Electronics

The Raspberry Pi is the third best-selling computer of all time but most computer users have never heard of it.

How can a relatively unknown computer become one of the top-selling models? It comes down to price and versatility.

Raspberry Pi PCs are quite inexpensive and there are a ton of things to do with Raspberry Pi computers. Let’s look at 7 fun things you can use them for.

What is a Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the U.K. They use a Broadcom system on a chip (SoC) that packs nearly all the components into the CPU.

The original version launched in 2012, with several new versions since then. The latest model is version 4, with Raspberry Pi 5 expected to launch sometime soon.

You can build one of these PCs for well under $100 and their small size makes them ideal for use as the PC controller in larger projects.

1. Home Automation Server

Smart home devices are one of the fastest-growing parts of the computer industry. Smart products like light bulbs, thermostats, locks, and appliances let you control them from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

You can set up automated systems like having your lights turn on when you get home from work or adjusting the thermostat automatically based on the time of day.

A Raspberry Pi makes a perfect home automation server for controlling all those devices. Its low cost makes it easier to justify using one as a dedicated automation server compared to buying a typical PC to do the same thing.

2. Host Your Own Website

The majority of the websites on the internet run on Linux-based servers. Linux is an operating system like Windows or macOS but the combination of powerful networking features and no cost to use it makes it popular on the web.

A Raspberry Pi can run Linux, letting you set up your own web server for very little cost. You can run the same “LAMP” stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python) as the most powerful web servers on the internet.

You can use a Pi as a test server where you can build your website privately or you can hook it up to the internet and make the website available to the world.

3. Set Up a VPN Server

When you browse the internet or download any information from it, there’s a chance of that information getting intercepted and stolen by hackers. If you use public WiFi services, the risk gets much higher.

A VPN (virtual private network) lets you encrypt everything you send and receive while on the internet. If someone were to intercept your data, it would be completely unreadable to them.

There are dozens of VPN services that you can pay for but most of them have a monthly or annual fee. With a Raspberry Pi, you can set up your own VPN that won’t cost you anything beyond the cost of the Pi itself.

You can also be sure that your data stays private since you control the entire path, including the VPN itself.

4. Build a Media Server

Services like Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon Prime let you buy or stream movies, TV shows, and other media over the internet. But if you’ve got a library of physical media like DVDs and CDs, you can convert them into digital formats to build your own library.

By installing software like Plex, you can use a Raspberry Pi as a server that will stream your library to your TV, smartphone, or any other device that’s connected to the same network.

Plex is easy to use and lets you stream to more than one place at the same time so your whole family can watch movies, catch up on TV shows, or listen to music streaming from your Pi server.

5. Retro Computing and Gaming System

If you’ve been using computers or playing video games for a while, you probably have fond memories of certain platforms like the Super Nintendo, Apple II, or Commodore 64.

Most of these older systems can be emulated on modern computers, including the Raspberry Pi. Once you install the emulation software, you’ll be able to run games and other programs written for those older machines.

You can even emulate classic arcade systems to play all the games you used to feed quarters into for hours on end. If you build the Pi and the monitor into an arcade-style cabinet, you’ll feel like you traveled back in time several decades.

6. Learn How to Code

Because one of the Raspberry Pi OS choices is Linux, you have all the development tools it supports at your disposal. This makes the Pi a perfect system for learning how to program.

You can use the same programming languages and development tools as a programmer would have on a computer that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars more. This lets you practice your coding skills without spending a fortune.

You can also use a Raspberry Pi as a development system and move your app over to a “traditional” computer once you have most of the work done.

7. Learn How to Build a Computer

Using a computer that you built yourself is very satisfying but most people don’t know how to do it. And the learning process can be costly if you build an expensive computer right out of the gate.

One mistake and you could damage a component that cost you hundreds of dollars.

Building a Raspberry Pi is a good way to learn how the process works without risking a lot of money. And because it’s a single-board PC, it’s perfect for beginners.

The Raspberry Pi is a Perfect Hacking and Learning Tool

If you want to learn more about the inner workings of a computer, the Raspberry Pi is the perfect way to do it without spending a lot of money. And if you want to play around with a computer without risking your expensive PC, it’s an ideal solution.

Check out the Technology section of our site for more helpful articles like this one.

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