The Raspberry Pi 3 is an impressive project and an evolution of multiple iterations of the original model that started it all off. The third iteration of the product is available now, and there are several projects and modifications you can do to using this tiny computer. However, not every project is easy to learn, while some require relative expertise in the field of coding and/or robotics.
You will be pleased to know that you can create a proper desktop PC using just a Raspberry Pi. But this is not where its functionality ends, however. There are several independent projects that have taught us the true potential of this miniature device. We’re going to discuss a few projects today in an attempt to encourage you to try them out on your own. As we’ve mentioned already, not every project is easy, so make sure you choose your projects wisely.
21 Raspberry Pi 3 Projects You Can Try Yourself
Build a desktop PC
The Raspberry Pie 3 is an incredibly capable device. The device’s official distributor has released a full desktop kit for the product, which allows you to instantly convert this tiny device into a Windows 10 running desktop. This kit comes included with a proper case, a heat sink, and the ability to hold SATA hard drives of up to 1TB. Needless to say, the hard drive isn’t included with the kit. This kit can be purchased from Elements14’s official website. In terms of functionality alone, this PC kit is one of the best you can find out there. The best part is that the seller is only charging $49.99 for this kit, which when combined with the Raspberry Pi 3 comes under $100.
Be advised that you will only get a standard computer with this setup. If you’re expecting a graphics powerhouse with this mod, you’re bound for disappointment. In any case, this is an excellent project to get you acquainted with Raspberry Pi 3 and its wide range of capabilities.
DIY Raspberry Pi Projects (Android app)
There’s no better place than the internet to learn about all the potential features of the Raspberry Pi and its variants. However, this third party app gives us a collection of projects with varying expertise levels, thus appealing to all users. The app will detail all the materials and components you will need for your project. More complicated projects might require some programming knowhow, however. This app can also help you install Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi 3. This is a free operating system that is based on the Raspberry Pi hardware.
There are other projects like adding an LCD touchscreen to your Pi, or setting up a web based home automation system, and so on. Luckily, more projects are added overtime, so there’s no dearth of projects to try out when you’ve already done it all. This is also an educational app which means your kids can definitely try out some of the projects mentioned here. The app requires a smartphone running at least Android 4.1, and is free to download. There are no ads or in-app purchases.
Building a digital picture frame
The Raspberry Pi can be used as a spare digital picture frame if you have a spare display or a monitor at home. This can also work on existing digital picture frames with a USB connection. The creator of this mod, Cameron Wiebe, has detailed the process in a Google+ post and also mentioned how you can automatically add images from Deviant Art periodically to keep the picture frame fresh. Understandably, the user has to write in some scripts and the process isn’t all that easy. But if you have some time to learn and follow instructions, your Raspberry Pi can be extremely helpful in making projects like these.
Build a media center
Using popular Kodi builds like OSMC and OpenElec builds, this mod can help you turn your Raspberry Pi into a full blown media center based on Kodi. The best part here is that you can only install Kodi on your device so that you have it available for other projects. Since this isn’t a first party mod, there are some expected issues on board. The add ons are sparsely available, and mostly directed towards pirated content. Keeping this in mind, this mod may not be for everyone. But if you’re still in the mood to try out what’s possible from that tiny Raspberry Pi, there’s no reason why you can’t try this out.
This is a mod that requires the standard GPO 746 model telephone and that’s pretty much it. Beyond this, you will need to replace the internal components of the phone with the Raspberry Pi. Using C#, the Raspberry Pi is then connected to the dial-pulse system, essentially making this a fully working internet phone.
Use your Pi as a VPN server
This is one of those complex projects, so it might not be for everyone. Basically, this requires you to connect to a VPN server using command line. In turn, this will help you hide your web address from the world, which is why this is also one of the most sought after services in the world today. To get started, the user will need to install Raspbian on their Pi and enter command line. The user can then use the PiVPN script which will install a VPN server thus scrambling all your data traffic. There are several ways to do it, but we found the best instructions here.
Try out facial recognition
This is a project that uses a combination of OpenCV, Python and deep learning, so proceed only if you’re acquainted with either of these coding languages. Luckily, there are plenty of tutorials available online, allowing us to get an excellent understanding of how it works. Naturally, you will also need a bunch of cameras (and plenty of time) to get through this successfully.
However, through the process, you will learn how to train your Raspberry Pi to recognize faces. Interested users can find all the details they need from this link here.
Build a robot powered by Raspberry Pi
As you can imagine, we’re stepping into the more complex projects now. Building a robot using anything is not an easy task, and is not any easier on the Raspberry Pi. However, with the help of some detailed tutorials, you can be on your way to building that robot. This is one of the few projects that does not need coding knowledge, so all you need is understanding of how electricity works. Granted it’s not one of those projects that you can finish in one day, building a robot using nothing but a Raspberry Pi can be immensely satisfying. If you’re up for it, be sure to check out this guide here.
Building a laptop
While this may seem a little redundant, you can technically build a full blown laptop using the Raspberry Pi. This is possible with the Pi Top accessory which comes with all that you need for a computer, including a laptop chassis, a 14-inch 1080p display, as well as keyboard and trackpad. This makes it an easy solution for those considering a laptop out of the Raspberry Pi.
However, the Pi Top is not a good option for those looking to conduct projects on the cheap. Although it does bring multiple functionalities to the table, the price tag of $319.99 appears to be a little too steep. What’s noteworthy here, though, is the fact that this can also provide 8 hours of battery life, making this a viable replacement for conventional laptops.
Use it as a weather station
This is one of the coolest aspects of the Raspberry Pi as you can use it for multiple purposes. Buy purchasing easy to assemble kits online, you can be measuring the temperature of your surroundings (indoor or outdoor) in no time. However, if you’re building a weather station outdoors, you will also need to protect it with a weatherproof case. This of course doesn’t matter if you’re only going to use it indoors. This will allow you to measure metrics like air quality and temperature. If this is something you’re into, be sure to check out this guide here.
Install WhatsApp on Raspberry Pi
One of the most popular social networking platforms out there, WhatsApp can also be installed on your Raspberry Pi. As far as prerequisites are concerned, you will need to install Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi, type in a few lines of code, and confirm your mobile number. You can find the full instructions to install WhatsApp on your Pi here. WhatsApp has nearly a billion users worldwide, which makes this particular mod accessible to a large bulk of the population. However, you will need to know some coding before you go ahead.
Wall mounted live calendar
The Raspberry Pi can easily power a calendar. But how do you get to a working calendar? Well, you can do this by using a spare monitor (even older ones will do) along with some coding knowhow. This particular hack comes from user Piney, who cleverly tweaked the operating system to open Google Calendar at startup. The result is a persistent calendar that changes with each passing day. It’s a relatively easy hack to manage, although when we talk about the Raspberry Pi, nothing really is too easy.
Raspberry Pi Radio
Using nothing but some spare tools, an FM radio, as well as a soldering iron, you can transmit your own radio waves out to the public. The video details the procedure, and we must say, it’s pretty easy in practice. However, we advise users to go ahead only if they’re well versed with electronics. The result, in the words of the creator, is a radio station that can cover an entire football stadium. Pretty cool, right?
Control your DSLR camera
This one is a slightly tricky process, but a very rewarding process nonetheless. As a prerequisite, you will need a DSLR (not every model is compatible), a micro SD card, and power supply. You would usually need an ethernet adapter as well, but the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with Wi-Fi on board. You will get started with the process by compiling the gphoto2 software and then installing it on your Raspberry Pi. It is recommended to check the camera compatibility list before you start with the process. Check this guide out for more details.
Use your Pi as to stream PC games
This is yet another method that requires quite a bit of coding. But thanks to detailed online tutorials, we have a very good idea of where to begin. While a service like Steam Link already exists, this version is worth a mention as it also works with AMD GPUs. This method uses a software called Parsec, allowing you to stream your games over a bigger screen or monitor using the internet. However, it is recommended to use an ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi considering latency issues. With this particular mod, you will be able to enjoy co-op games with your friends who aren’t in the same house as you. You can find more details here.
Train your Raspberry Pi to detect pressure in an area
This one takes some electronics knowhow, which is to say that this project is not as hard as some of the coding oriented projects we’ve seen so far on this list. To start off, you will need a microSD card, a Breadboard, Breadboard wire, a 1m resistor, and of course, a pressure pad. The idea here is to help you determine the amount of pressure applied on a particular surface. The values will differ based on the pressure the user puts in on the surface, with the creator claiming the range to be as high as 100,000 and as low as 0. More details on this particular project can be found here.
Chromecast alternative using Raspicast
This mod uses two key pieces of software, OpenMax and omxplayer. The third and crucial piece of the puzzle is the Raspicast app on Android, which will act as an alternative to Chromecast. All three of these softwares will work in tandem to bring Chromecast like abilities on the Raspberry Pi. While it’s nice to mimic some functionalities of the Chromecast on this tiny device, it must be mentioned that it will not be on the same level as the Chromecast, with some features most likely missing. Keeping this in mind, users are recommended to try this only to satisfy their curiosity.
Data speed monitor
While checking your data speed is not necessarily a tough task in 2024, we can successfully add this among the features of the Raspberry Pi, with some help from other services and softwares, of course. All this mod needs is a USB drive, an ethernet cable, and a microSD card to get started on this project. For this purpose, the creator has used Speedtest-cli to monitor the internet speeds. There’s plenty of coding involved in this project, so it might not be for everyone. But there’s surely no harm in giving it a try.
Connecting PlayStation controllers
This one will definitely strike the attention of gamers. If you’re planning on doing some gaming on the Raspberry Pi, this mod might definitely help you out. Pairing a PS4 controller appears to be a relatively easy process as it simply has to connect to the Bluetooth on the Raspberry Pi. However, if you’re looking to pair a PS3 controller, the process is slightly different and involves installing a six-pair software on the Raspberry Pi. This is not one of the easier mods to try out, but the end result can be incredibly fun, especially if you have the right games for these controllers.
Setting up a distance sensor
While there’s no coding knowledge required here, you will need to know your way around electronics. By default, this project should allow your Raspberry Pi to read distance. You can also train your Raspberry Pi to measure distance using a few lines of Python code. But as for the core project, all you will be needing is the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor to record data for you. While it’s more of a novelty project than a functional motion sensor, it does help us grasp the near endless capabilities of the Raspberry Pi.
Use your Raspberry Pi as a Wi-Fi Extender
This is an extremely simple project that takes not more than a couple of hours. To get started, all you need is two Wi-Fi adapters while making sure that one of them can be setup as an access point. In terms of overall speed, don’t expect things to get any faster than your existing setup given that the network has to bounce off of the Raspberry Pi. This is merely a cool way to illustrate how this mini computer can also be setup as a range extender. This project can come in handy when you’re trying out the aforementioned VPN project, so be sure to give this a closer look.
Do you have a favorite project? Let us know.