Raspberry Pi might not be the newest kid on the block anymore, but it is one of the most accessible. It is strong enough to display HD movies and small enough to make wearable – this makes it a tool to be trifled with. This is not the first, nor last single-board computer to hit the market, but it is one of the more visible ones right now. Measuring 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm (or roughly 3.37″ x 2.21″ x 0.83″), this small scale computer lets you make it wearable, put it up on the wall, hide it behind your computer screen and more. It uses SD cards for storing the operating system, so you can easily switch between several. Another fun feature of the Pi is that it has pins broken out for more low level communications that you can find on most computers. Need UART? SPI? GPIO? The Pi is ready to go, whereas your desktop or laptop is going to need a USB adapter. This makes it great when you need to interface to sensors or other low level electronics. For example, Michael Castor made a tablet which quickly spread across the Internet, showing us how powerful a tool the Pi could be.
A lot of new Augmented Reality (AR) tech has come out lately, from the pricey Google Glass, to the not-yet-released MetaAR and CastAR, and even the recently announced Microsoft HoloLens. With the Raspberry Pi we don’t have to wait for a release, we can make it ourselves; just connect a camera and a small screen. The image below shows the “Raspberry Eye,” a project from hackday.io, but there are more like it out there.
We can augment our reality and we can bring our tech with us as we wish. Another project which can be created with the the Pi is a virtual reality (VR) headset like such as The Nova. By displaying a different image to each eye, a VR headset can give the user a 3D image of a virtual world- whether that be The Matrix or OASIS.
If none of those take your fancy, how about a Star Trek-inspired controller for lights, checking if doors are open, checking the temperature inside and out? Many of the features can be useful, while others are fun. In most cases, more features can be added.
For those in the US, you can grab yourself a Raspberry Pi Starter Kit for about $55 (latest B+ model, WiFi, pre-loaded SD card, case, etc) or spend an extra 10 bucks on the Ultimate Starter Kit to get some additional cables, LEDs, switches and other stuff to make yourself something truly interesting.
Whether you’re jacking into the matrix or just looking to build an embedded device, the Raspberry Pi is one of the best and fastest tools to get your hardware hacking started.
What would you make if you picked one up?
I want one now.
Isaac L. Wheeler (Veritas)
This makes me want to spend more time at my local makerspace.