The Raspberry Pi went on sale in February of 2012, and since then hardware hackers have customized the super-cheap personal computer to be everything from a mini Linux laptop to a game console to a supercomputer. Since its release, sales of the credit-card sized PC have skyrocketed, with more than an estimated one million PC hobbyists scooping one up.
Although the original intentions of the cheap Raspberry Pi was to inspire kids to write code and build computers, these PCs have also become popular with curious adults. The Raspberry Pi consists of a tiny circuit board, a graphics processor, an ARM-based CPU, and several pins and ports. And from that blank circuit board, people are able to do just about anything.
With that being said, here are 7 of the coolest Raspberry Pi Hacks.
Image via Flickr by CesarCardoso
The Beet Machine
Scott Garner’s Raspberry Pi creation mixes music, wordplay, and vegetables. His BeetBox lets users play drumbeats by touching real beets. Garner admits that his BeetBox creation was easy to put together because of the Pi platform’s versatility, but he admitted that the biggest challenge was getting the PC to communicate with the capacitive touch sensor.
Ultimately, the beets proved less pliable than the Raspberry Pi itself, being that the vegetables dried out. In turn, the capacitance changed and it threw the sensor off. But this hack works great while the beets are still fresh.
The Beer Keyboard
While this beer keyboard isn’t the most practical device in the world, it’s about as enticing as an ice-cold one out of your refrigerator. Powered by the Raspberry Pi, this QWERTY keyboard is tricked out with 44 beer cans from a brewery in Prague. The system was built by Robofun Create, and requires users over 21 years old to tap the letters on the tops of the beer cans to produce letters on the plasma screen above it.
The Drone Boat
Measuring 20 inches from stern to stem, a group by the name of FishPi is ready to put the Raspberry Pi out to sea to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a drone boat. The boat, controlled by the single-board computer, is powered by a 130-watt solar panel. As the boat travels across the Atlantic, it’ll collect scientific measurements. The group explained on its website that it wanted to do something outside of the normal limits of conventional thinking.
The Tiny Arcade
Jeroen Domburg says he didn’t know what he was going to do with the Raspberry Pi when he first bought it, and that he made the purchase because he wanted to expand his toolset with something cheap and powerful. In the end, Domburg created the smallest arcade-style gaming cabinet in the world. The gaming cabinet has a 2.4-inch TFT display and is constructed out of laser-cut plastic.
The Solar-Powered FTP Server
Anyone who owns a Raspberry Pi and is up for a building challenge can tackle this solar-powered project, being that you can find out how to make a solar-powered FTP Server here. What this solar-powered FTP server includes is a custom-built Raspberry Pi case with a solar panel on one side and a compartment for the computer on the other, holes for the I/O ports, and four rechargeable AA batteries.
David Hawward, creator of the project, says that with this device you’ll always have access to your digital files as long as you have an Internet connection. And you won’t have to spend a penny on your electricity bill doing it ever again.
The Picture Taker
David Hunt, a Linux software engineer and photographer, was thinking about embedding a computer in a DSLR camera for a long time before costs became a barrier and discouraged him.
That was until the Raspberry Pi got into his hands, and he re-purposed one of his old battery grips into a camera accessory that could send images in real-time to a computer via Wi-Fi. He could also control the camera remotely from a computer.
Although Hunt admits there’s plenty of work to get done on the software side of the project, he states that the prototype works well. If he gets too frustrated, he could easily pick up an Eye-Fi wireless card instead. Of course, that would be too easy.
The Pi in the Sky
Tracking down high-altitude balloons has become a sport for people who send their GPS-enabled gear to the outer limits of the atmosphere only to chase it after it falls back down to Earth. Dave Akerman, one of these people, customized a Raspberry Pi to sport a GPS radio, various sensors, and a webcam. Thanks to his Pi in the Sky setup, he was able to connect using Verizon high speed internet, RI and received some of the highest images ever taken during an amateur flight.
Think you have what it takes to use the Raspberry Pi to come up with your own creation? Let us know what you came up with and if it worked in a comment below.
Author Bio: Joe Fortunato is a freelance writer from Tampa, Florida. He enjoys learning about new subjects, following his Baltimore Orioles, and traveling the country for fishing. You can find Joe on Twitter at @thesocialj.