25 Powerful Raspberry Pi Projects: Part I

By PJ Evans. Posted

It’s common to do a bit of head-scratching when you get your first Raspberry Pi. Sure, it’s a cool bit of technology at an amazing price, but what to do with it?
Here at The MagPi, we work hard to stuff your imagination full of ideas that are hopefully accessible to all our readers. Still, we thought it might be fun to take a look at what happens when a maker gets ambitious and decides to go all‑out on their new project. We present some of our favourite advanced Raspberry Pi makes…

Photo projects

Take amazing shots with Raspberry Pi.

Drop Pi

Maker: David Hunt Take incredible shots of water droplets, using a Raspberry Pi as a controller for a solenoid valve and camera trigger. The valve is hooked up to the GPIO pins and a small piece of code opens the valve and triggers the camera. The code is timed for a valve 40 cm above the surface of the water. It’s a great example of how Raspberry Pi can be used to control an environment and camera, plus a good excuse to learn how to control valves.

The Drop Pi takes incredible macro detail photos

StereoPi

Maker: Eugene Pomazov Since 2014, Raspbian has offered built-in support for stereoscopic photography. With two cameras attached to a Raspberry Pi, you can create 3D photographs and record 3D video. You’ll need a Raspberry Pi Compute Module (which has support for two Camera Modules). The compact and light nature of StereoPi makes it particularly useful for attaching to drones and robots.

StereoPi enables you to take stereoscopic photos using your Raspberry Pi

Advanced gaming builds

Strictly for fun, these masterful makes put a smile on your face.

Heverlee Sjoelen

Maker: Grant Gibson When Belgium beer brand Heverlee approached prolific maker Grant Gibson for promotional ideas, he was reminded of Sjoelen, a shuffleboard game popular in Germany and Belgium. The result was a Raspberry Pi-powered physical game and vending machine mash-up that dispensed cold cans of beer to the winners.

Heverlee Sjoelen is a Raspberry Pi-controlled shuffleboard game

The Claw

Maker: Ryan Walmsley Ryan’s ever-popular claw machine is often seen at Raspberry Pi events throughout the UK. An upcycled bar-top ‘grabber’ game, this one can be played over the internet. Use your computer or mobile phone to try to grab Babbage the Bear (gently) as the results are live-streamed to you.

The Claw, a Raspberry Pi-controlled teddypicker, asks you to grab Babbage The Bear

OutRun Bar-top

Maker: Matt Brailsford (aka Circuitbeard) What separates Matt from the crowd is his exquisite attention to detail. This OutRun Deluxe bar-top features fully working controls, such as gear shifting and a steering wheel. Add the pedals, repurposed from an wheel controller, and custom bodywork and this is a classy project.

Matt's Outrun tabletop games console is fantastically faithful to the original

Take to the seas in your autonomous yacht

Maker: AI Coventry (Coventry University) Balazs Bordas, Mark Tyers, Sergiu Harjau, Shahzad Haider, also known as AI Coventry, AI Coventry is making serious progress with autonomous vehicle technology. Sergiu Harjau and team entered their aquatic vehicle, ‘The Rabb__it’, in an autonomous boat challenge in China. We asked Sergiu all about it.

What inspired you to build a self-sailing boat?

I first started having an interest in autonomous vehicles when I had to choose a project for a second-year module. I first built an autonomous RC Car, driven by Raspberry Pi Zero[…]. That got some traction in the university and then a lecturer offered me a spot on the autonomous boat team in Finland. We use the project as a way to broaden our skill set, both from a software standpoint but also when it comes to electrical engineering, and so far it’s been working wonderfully.

The Rabb, AI Coventry's autonomous yacht, on the water

What challenges did you face?

Autonomous vehicles are a bit like chess in some ways. It’s very easy to understand how it’s all meant to work, but it’s really hard to go ‘deep’ and create beautiful systems which work without a single flaw[…]. In China, our biggest challenge which we didn’t foresee was the weather. The humidity and extreme heat rendered some of our sensors faulty, spitting out random data at unpredictable times. Even still, we pursued our goals and in the end managed to fix some of the issues and came home with a pretty good result.

boat-team

Are you happy with the outcome?

Yes, in our latest trip we did way better than our past ones, but even still we weren’t perfect. We’re very happy to call it a learning experience and go from there. On the flip side, we were very organised, more prepared than any team out there if I’m honest, and that allowed us to quickly fix our issues when we needed to. In the end, we managed to get third prize, and we’re very happy with the result.

Any improvements planned?

We’re going to be looking at spending a little bit extra on our compass sensor to ensure it doesn’t get de-calibrated as often as it did in China. We suspected there were power lines under the lake, and that didn’t help our autonomous sailing.

Autonomous boat designed at Coventry University and controlled by Raspberry Pi

What plans do you have for your next vehicle?

Since autonomous vehicles and embedded systems are two of my favourite pastime activities, my next big project will again bring the two together. I’ll be helping my lecturer Dr David Croft to deliver a hardware-software platform for a new master’s course next year: ‘Connected autonomous vehicles systems’. We’re planning on building an RC car with capabilities to become autonomous on an ROS software interface. It’s not going to be easy, to say the least, but I hope that through my other projects I have managed to gain the necessary skills to pursue yet another interesting endeavour.

Inspired by these amazing Raspberry Pi makes? Look out for part II of our amazing projects feature tomorrow...

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