Once you start using your Raspberry Pi, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed by the number of projects you can do. You can choose the project that interests you most, but most projects require a lot of materials or are too complicated for a beginner.
That’s why I created this list of 15 projects you can try, no matter your current level. I have step-by-step instructions for each, and no additional equipment is needed (or I’ll give you links if not). So moving on should be easy.
If you’re looking for more project ideas, with step-by-step instructions at increasing levels, you can check out my ebook here. This is a 30-day challenge where you learn one new thing each day until you become a Raspberry Pi expert. The first third of the book is designed to teach you the basics, but the following chapters contain many projects that you can try out for yourself (full details on this page).
1 – control of domestic lighting
As you probably know, more and more lights are now called smart lights. Usually, you can at least turn the lights on or off with your phone, and some models even allow you to change the color.
I have a bunch of Philips Hue at home and I love them. The application works well, you can create subroutines and program all kinds of things.
So what’s the link to the Raspberry Pi project?
Philips Hue kits include a hub that connects all the elements together, and there is an API for this hub.
You can control anything with a few scripts (e.g. Python) and link them to something on the Raspberry Pi.
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I recently created a Python script that pulls sunrise and sunset times from an external API and schedules the lighting accordingly. This means that the light only comes on when it is needed. With the phone application, on the other hand, you have to change the time often, depending on the time of year and the time of day.
Want to try it? Here are the links to get you started:
2 – Use your Pi as a Minecraft server
I don’t think I need to represent Minecraft, a very popular sandbox game that has sold over 200 million copies worldwide.
There is a minimal version on the Raspberry Pi OS, Pi Edition, but I want to offer a Minecraft server, with full gameplay.
A few years ago I was a big fan of this game and even made my own server which was very successful.
So of course I tried to install it on my Raspberry Pi to see how it works, and the result was very interesting.
Since the Minecraft server is single-threaded and uses the most memory, it works well on the Raspberry Pi 3B+ and the Raspberry Pi 4 or 400.
Once installed, it’s all about building a world where you can invite friends to play with you and add new features to the game by installing plugins. Anything is possible if it’s done.
The installation is almost the same as on a large Linux server, because it is Java based.
Here is a link to the full tutorial for this project idea.
3 – Try the new operating system
This idea may not be standard, but it’s an important step when you start using your Raspberry Pi.
In the beginning, it’s good to become familiar with the Raspberry Pi’s operating system to understand how it works and build your skills from there.
But don’t stay in this division forever, you need to explore and try new things.
Many operating systems and Linux distributions are available on the Raspberry Pi (in fact, most popular systems now have ARM versions).
I even have a whole article on my 15 favorite operating systems that you can read by clicking on the link.
And I have a video that compares the best:
There are a few more that I haven’t included in this article yet:
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4 – Learn commands and scripts
Linux commands and programming are two big topics you’ll have to deal with one day. If you’re just getting started with your Raspberry Pi and Linux, it may not be far off. But keep it on your to-do list.
For the more interesting projects you will discover later, proper use of the command line is essential.
Yes, you can still copy and paste a tutorial without understanding anything, but that takes all the fun out of the project.
There are thousands of commands in Linux, and the same goes for the Raspberry Pi. But you don’t have to know them all. In fact, with a good understanding of file organization in Linux and no more than fifty commands, you should be able to do everything. It may seem like a lot, but you get there little by little.
Here are some links to get you started:
My e-book Master your Raspberry Pi also has a whole chapter on shell scripts, if you’re interested.
5 – Exploring the logic of code with Scratch
In the previous idea I mainly talked about Linux commands, but programming is also important.
Programming was the original purpose of the Raspberry Pi (to teach young students to program in an inexpensive way).
And for that, there are some tools pre-installed on the Raspberry Pi operating system.
Scratch is a fun programming language designed specifically for children. The idea is to use blocks of statements to create a basic algorithm. You can move the character, make him talk, interact with him, etc.
It looks like this: alt=width=800 height=525 data-ez= data-ezsrc=http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1618650210_243_15-Easy-Projects-for-Raspberry-Pi-Beginners-With-Links–.jpg-.jpg />
I think this is the only project I don’t have a manual for yet, but there is a lesson in my video course, Raspberry Pi Bootcamp. This is a course where I will help you get started with your Raspberry Pi, choose your hardware, install your first applications and start your first 5 projects to make sure you have understood everything and can proceed independently.
6 – Set up the interface and stop with thecommands.
I’ve told you before that commands are mandatory on the Raspberry Pi, but now I offer you a way to get around that and set up an interface that lets you do anything.
Yes, it is possible, and depending on your goals with the Raspberry Pi, it could be a good solution.
Not everyone wants to master everything on the Raspberry Pi. If you use it primarily as an office with few services, command training may not be your priority.
The good news: There is a program called Webmin which allows you to manage everything through the web interface.
From there, you can configure your Raspberry Pi and any services you install on it. You can even install new packages through the interface and add new modules for specific applications.
You can find all the details and how to install this application here.
It’s worth a try, whatever your goals are.
7 – Playing Steam games on the Raspberry Pi
After some serious thoughts, let’s get back to the fun stuff. When we think of games on the Raspberry Pi, we usually think of retro games: Play Super Nintendo games on it. It’s nice, and we’ll come back to it later, but that’s not the point. alt=width playback steam link=900 height=506 data-ez= data-ezsrc=http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1618650212_904_15-Easy-Projects-for-Raspberry-Pi-Beginners-With-Links–.jpg-.jpg />
In case you didn’t know: Steam is the most popular gaming platform on the PC, and most new games are published directly there. On average, 25 million players are connected, which is a great way for game publishers to promote a new product.
Either way, you can play some fun games on the Raspberry Pi. Yes, we need more power to run new games that the Raspberry Pi can handle, but the smart idea here is that the computer does all the work. The Raspberry Pi is just an advanced representation of the game.
You plug the controller into the Pi, connect it to your computer, and you’re ready to play all the latest games on the Pi (Grand Theft Auto V, PUBG, CS:GO, Rust, etc.).
As always, you can find the link with all the details here.
8 – Crypto-currency mining experiment
Crypto-mining is now a trend, and more and more people are trying to make money by running a computer idle or building huge GPU farms.
Unfortunately, Crimson Pi can’t compete with them. The more resources you have, the more likely you are to be rewarded. But the goal here is not to make money, but to learn how it works.
Crypto-currencies and crypto-currency mining are fascinating topics, and you don’t have to be a Raspberry Pi expert to learn about them.
Within minutes, you can install the miner on your Raspberry Pi and connect it to a dedicated crypto-currency network.
You can watch this video for more information:
Or a version of the blog post here, if you like: How to mine Monero with Crimson P.
9 – Turn your gun into aSIN.
Generally, the Raspberry Pi is used with a small SD card (32 to 64G – most common according to a survey I did of readers). However, you can also use a larger SD card (up to 1 TB) or an external hard drive (with virtually unlimited storage for a small fee).
Okay, we can add a few terabytes of storage to your Raspberry Pi, but why?
The idea is to build a server where you can store your files and share them over the network.
So you can access it from any computer or device (even remotely). This is what we call NAS or Network Attached Storage.
There are a few simple solutions you can install on your Raspberry Pi (tutorial here), and it’s a great way to share unimportant files (movies, software, etc.) or to have an external backup of your important files.
10 – Installing NextCloud
NextCloud can be considered an upgrade from a NAS server. One of the differences is that you can access the files through a web interface, but the main advantage is that there is a client that synchronizes the files in real time between your computer(s) and the server. alt=width=800 height=379 data-ezsrc=http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1618650212_329_15-Easy-Projects-for-Raspberry-Pi-Beginners-With-Links–.jpg-.jpg />
It is also a better way to access files remotely, as it is more secure and you can easily access files from your smartphone or tablet.
But NextCloud is not just a file sharing app, you can install many other add-ons on the interface to do a wide range of things (for example, I store passwords and contacts on mine).
Try it now by following my NextCloud installation guide here.
11 – Install an ad blocker on your network
This one is popular among Raspberry Pi users, so you may already know it. Still, it’s a good project for beginners, so I had to put it on this list.
Perhaps you use tools like AdBlock on your computer to remove ads on certain websites (if so, you have an exception!).
The idea here is to install an ad blocker on the Raspberry Pi and use the Raspberry Pi as a DNS server.
That way, all devices on your network that use the Pi as a DNS server will no longer display ads (this includes computers, smartphones, and tablets).
Interested? You can install it in a few minutes with this guide.
You have a clear web interface that allows you to view statistics and block or whitelist domains to customize your experience.
12 – Have fun with Sense HAT
The HAT card is an expansion card that you can add to the Raspberry Pi by plugging it into the GPIO pins. This means that the device is installed on top.
Sense HAT is one of the most popular. It contains many sensors (temperature, magnetometer, gyroscope, …), a joystick and an LED display matrix. So this is the best start in this area. alt=width=800 height=486 data-ez= data-ezsrc=http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/1618650214_667_15-Easy-Projects-for-Raspberry-Pi-Beginners-With-Links–.jpg-.jpg />
The projects you can do with it are almost limitless, and it’s a great way to learn Python while having fun (you can write and draw fun things on an LED matrix).
I have two detailed guides on this topic, so I think that’s the best way to proceed from here.
You should buy the Sense HAT if you don’t already have it, but it’s not expensive at all and well worth it.
13 – Learn the basics of Python / GPIO
The next natural step is to learn Python and GPIO (general purpose input/output) pins. Using HAT is a good way to get started in this area, but you can do more.
Since Python is an important part of the Raspberry Pi system (hence the name), it’s also important to learn it as soon as possible. Many projects include Python scripts to take care of everything.
GPIO pins, for example, are very well integrated into Python. You will find Python libraries to interact with them (like for Sense HAT). Various sensors can be connected (inputs) or external accessories such as LEDs, displays and motors can be controlled (outputs).
I have a beginner’s guide for Python and another for GPIO pins. I recommend you read them in this order if you want to continue:
Along the way, I learned a lot about Python and GPIO capabilities with SunFounder’s Da Vinci kit. It comes with many accessories and a PDF manual where you can learn how to use it. I recommend it if you are serious about starting it.
14 – Turn your gun into a music box
Let’s round out this list with two fun and easy to do projects.
The idea is to use a Raspberry P to play music at home. You can do it with bluetooth and a computer, but the advantage of using a Raspberry Pi is that you can control it even when the computer is off (or too far away ^^).
There are several solutions you can try with many options. Sure, you can play local files like MP3s, but you can also connect to other sources to listen to podcasts, web radios, or even Spotify.
You will find 3 recommended solutions here, and my favorite is to use Volumio :
15 – Retro game console assembly
This last point will not surprise most of you, since many people buy a Raspberry Pi for this very purpose :).
I’ve already proposed this idea, but the goal is to play old games on the Raspberry Pi.
It’s not powerful enough to play the latest games, but it’s a performance monster compared to the SNES, Game Boy or even the PlayStation 1.
I have a lot of tutorials on this subject on my site, so you can find everything you need (use the search engine if you have questions).
Basically, the idea is to install an operating system designed to easily play ROMs like Super Mario, download the games you want and transfer them to the Raspberry Pi.
Here are the most popular systems you can try:
If you don’t know which one to choose, I compared them in this video:
You need a controller to play games on your Raspberry Pi. Here is my current recommendation. It’s not very expensive and fits any console (even the N64, which had a dedicated controller).
I also recommend you find an SD card with thousands of games on it, because downloading them one by one is a waste of time and you risk getting malware, depending on the source you use.
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