Best Raspberry Pi projects Besides a Retro Gaming Console

The Raspberry is an incredible maker board. A powerful, functional, yet tiny single-board computer (SBC), the Raspberry Pi handles tons of tasks. Often, it's used as a retro gaming console running RetroPie, Lakka, or Recalbox. But it's capable of far more than gaming. Check out the best Raspberry Pi projects besides a retro gaming console.

1. Raspberry Pi Web Server

Though many websites run off of dedicated server hardware, a Raspberry Pi functions as a web server with ease. You can install WordPress, Drupal, Apache, NGINX, and Python on a Raspberry Pi for a Raspberry Pi web server. While performance won't match that of a robust server or hosting solution, it's a viable alternative for basic, low to moderate traffic websites. Plus, installation of WordPress on the Raspberry Pi as well as Drupal and other software options is pretty simple. 

2. Raspberry Pi Media Server

In addition to Raspberry Pi web servers, the Pi runs media server software with ease. Plex, Emby, Madsonic, Subsonic, and OpenMediaVault offer means to transform a Raspberry Pi into a media server. These allow for remote access to videos, music, and pictures. Essentially, you can create a do-it-yourself Netflix or DIY Spotify for streaming movies, TV shows, and music. 

3. Raspberry Pi HTPC

Local media playback functions flawlessly on the Raspberry Pi. Because running files from local storage such as a hard drive or Samba share uses few system resources, a Raspberry Pi home theatre PC. Standalone Raspberry Pi HTPC Kodi-based distros such as Open-source Media Center (OSMC), LibreELEC, OpenELEC, and Xbian abound. Or, try installing Kodi on top of an existing Linux operating system such as Raspbian. 

4. Raspberry Pi Smart Home Hub

Since the Raspberry Pi boasts a tiny footprint and low power draw, it's ideal for use in the smart home arena. Similar to its server applications, the Raspberry Pi operates as an efficient always-on device. Hassio transforms into a smart home assistant. Then, you can sync with various devices such as Z-Wave and Zigbee controllers. 

Alternatively, try creating a smart voice assistant with Mycroft on the Raspberry Pi. Then there's a full-on smart home complete with blockchain implementation, chore tracking, and more. There's ample room for smart home automation using a Raspberry Pi, with the ability to connect smoke detectors, sprinklers, cooling fans, and more. Plus, you can make door locks, connect with specific devices like a Dyson Pure Link

5. Robotics Projects

Likewise, its small form factor lends the Raspberry Pi tons of advantages in robotics projects. A Balancerbot using a Raspberry Pi 3 and a program running on Linux written in C++ works like a champ. Other neat builds include a "The Terminator" inspired The Raspbinator project or LEGO Raspberry Pirate skull. Grab some random items from around your house and create a junkbot

6. Wearables

Whether it's a Raspberry Pi 3 B+, Raspberry Pi Zero, or Raspberry Pi A+, Pi SBCs serve as excellent foundations for wearables. The Windows Wrist Watch is a super cool application. Or, the Piglass offers a Google Glass type experience with a Raspberry Pi.

7. Smart Agriculture

Smart agriculture remains a budding space. With the rise of tech across all industries, smart farming continues to evolve. On a small scale, the Raspberry Pi provides an inexpensive means of making a hydromazing smart garden system, crop growth monitor, and more. 

8. Music Projects

Aside from a music server and HTPC, the Pi plays music files well and as such may be utilized as a music player. The Pipod, lovingly named after the iPod, is as the name suggests is a portable music player. You might consider building a Raspberry Pi boombox, or even an Android Auto head unit with a Raspberry Pi. 

9. Raspberry Pi Torrent Box

A Raspberry Pi seedbox is ridiculously easy to create, but also useful. Since there's a ton of free, legal content including software like Linux operating systems, as well as public domain movies and TV shows. Sure, there's more powerful hardware available, but on a budget, the Raspberry Pi works wonderfully for torrenting. 

10. Basic Desktop

A simple, effective Raspberry Pi project is a desktop. Install a Linux OS such as Ubuntu, Raspbian, Linux Mint, Ubuntu MATE, or an Android OS. There are even Chrome OS releases for the Raspberry Pi. Though a Raspberry Pi won't win any benchmarking tests, it's still a solid board for web browsing, recording audio, and more. 

Best Raspberry Pi Projects Besides a Retro Game Console: Final Thoughts

The Raspberry Pi truly is a utilitarian single-board computer. There's no shortage of Raspberry Pi projects available, and you're only really limited by your creativity. Though at times it appears the majority of Raspberry Pi users are simply running RetroPie, there's a lot more to the powerful, versatile development board than just retro gaming. One of my favorite projects is a basic Linux desktop. Raspbian, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint run with ease. 

What are your favorite Rasberry Pi projects besides a retro game console? 

Moe Long

Moe Long is an editor, writer, and tech buff with a particular appreciation for Linux, Raspberry Pis, and retro gaming. When he's not hammering away at his keyboard, he enjoys running, reading, watching cinema, and listening to vinyl. You can read his writings on film and pop culture at CupOfMoe.com and check out his thoughts on movies on the Celluloid Fiends podcast.


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