Fun Raspberry Pi projects in 2020
2020 has showcased some of the best Raspberry Pi projects to date partly due to the lockdown period and partly due to the new model Raspberry Pi 4 devices that have hit the shelves. People have dived right in and started to build and invent many weird and wonderful projects using the Raspberry Pi.
Here are some projects that were completed in 2020 using the Raspberry Pi
This retro aesthetic project is based on hardware from the 80’s and 90’ era. Martin Mander, the creator, used the Raspberry Pi to and crammed it into an old cassette tape in order to use it to power a small scrolling LED display that gets data over the Internet via IFTT (If This Then That) scripts. This project threw in some wonderful and useful functions and looks incredibly retro. All in all, an excellent project to build.
This Raspberry Pi tricorder project was invented by Gabe Emerson. This thermal imaging camera was housed inside a plastic container with the final build being totally waterproof as well as an ability to function as an RF scanner. This project is totally out of the box and is an excellent example of how to show the world how portable and functional the Raspberry Pi can be when used the way it is supposed to.
This automated air hockey table was built using a Raspberry Pi to control the stick as well as to play against other opponents in real-time. This is a fun project to build and is an amazing robotic setup. The air hockey table technology allows you to compete against the machine as well as ask for a rematch! This project was originally shared by Marasadu on Reddit.
This is an extremely entertaining project to build especially because is it built with electronic components in order to form a weather station. If you follow this project closely and investigate the project requirements it can be relatively simple. This project allows its user to collect weather data by using a variety of sensors and has since been listed on the Raspberry Pi’s official website.
Now who wouldn’t want a Parent Detector! This project comes from Raspberry Pi’s official website and is made to use minimal hardware to set up a motion detector. This motion detector triggers a video recording using the Raspberry Pi camera and can give parents the ability to keep an eye on their children once they have entered a certain room. This is also a handy tool to have as a security measure to keep your eye on the front door to see who is arriving at your house.
This project is made to simulate a 90s spy or heist movie and is built to deter unwanted intruders from entering your premises. It is suitable for use in any apartment-wide Nerf Gun battle. This Raspberry Pi tripwire works almost the sane as one that you would see in a 90’s spy movie. A laser is ejected from your Raspberry Pi device and if it is broken then you are alerted immediately to the threat of any potential intruders. There are a few items that are needed to complete this project as well as a lot of creative applications that can also be used. This project is ideal to help refine your skills to become the ultimate Raspberry Pi master.
This Raspberry Pi project is comprised of a playable Game Boy that has been housed inside a fresh watermelon! This Raspberry Pi is connected to a small LCD screen with buttons and an external battery pack and is all then jammed into a hollowed-out watermelon. Known as the Melon Boy it was created during the Covid-19 lockdown in order to build a gaming console. The watermelon makes a nice hard casing to hold the hardware and is malleable and snug enough to fit the buttons in the rind of the fruit. You can play games such as Pokémon Emerald on the Melon Boy and use it anywhere, even a train or a bus. This project works better with a smaller sized watermelon to improve portability.
Project Building Recipes
Here are two step by step guides for projects that you can try and build yourself.
The base of this project will be any version of the Raspberry Pi device. It is to be noted that this is an excellent project for beginners to try their hand at.
What you need:
Two wheels with grippy rubber tires to snap onto the motor shafts
L293D motor controller
Six AA batteries
5-volt USB mobile phone battery pack for power
Chassis: Preferably something flat such as a laser-cut plastic, cardboard. If you want, you can add feet to stabilize
Sticky Tack adhesive
Start with the Wires
Mount the Pi and breadboard to the top of your chassis by using an adhesive Sticky Tack. Push the L293D motor controller into the breadboard and then connect your jumper wires to the pins on the Pi and on the breadboard. Now it is time to connect the two wires on each DC motor to the output pins of the motor controller.
Attach the motors, wheels, and battery box to the Gobots underside and then run the power wires up to your breadboard. Next step is to connect them to the motor power input of the L293D. Thereafter you need to mount the 5V battery pack and plug it into the Pi.
Get your SD card ready
Go to raspberrypi.org/downloads and download, unzip, and copy the NOOBS Operating System files onto your SD card. Now it is time to insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi. The next step is to plug your keyboard, mouse, and monitor into the Pi and when prompted, install your operating system.
Connect to the Internet using either your Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable and then type the following command into the terminal: GIT CLONE HTTPS://GITHUB.COM/THE-RASPBERRY-PI-GUY/WIRED. You then need to type: CD WIRED. You will see a simple to read Python program in this terminal where you then use the following command: NANO FIRST_MOVE.PY. This command opens the code in Nano which is the Raspberry Pi’s native text editor.
Run the Program
Now it is time to make your robot move around! In order to execute this code, you need to use the following command: PYTHON3 FIRST_MOVE.PY. Your GoBot will move around in a rough Square like pattern. The next step is to go back into the program using the Nano editor and modify the time delays as well as change the commands for forward, backward, left, and right so that you can create your GoBots own movements.
Add to your GoBots capabilities
There are so many extras that can be added to your GoBot. You can add sensors, write new code, add an infrared sensor, or even add a camera to integrate the computer vision. This is the perfect project for Raspberry Pi beginners and allows for you to continually learn while adding more capabilities to your GoBot.
How to Guide: Setup Surfshark on the Raspberry Pi
Set up the Surfshark VPN on your Raspberry Pi
Surfshark, although relatively new has built up a lot of popularity due to it security, speed and privacy. A VPN like Surfshark allows you to remain private when you are browsing through the web. This is a great project that can be used to compliment a torrent box or any other web browser. Remember to sign up for a Surfshark account before completing this project.
What you will need:
- Raspberry Pi
- Micro SD Card
- Ethernet Cable or Wi-Fi dongle
- Power Adaptor
- Raspberry Pi Case
- USB keyboard and mouse
How to get your Surfshark Service Credentials
- Login to your new Surfshark account by using your service credentials. To get these credentials you need to open a Surfshark account.
- Once you have logged in go to DEVICES and then to MANUAL.
- Find your service credentials at the bottom of the page. Use the username and password to log into the Surfshark VPN from your Raspberry Pi device.
Setting up Surfshark on the Raspberry Pi
The Open VPN client software will be used to connect to Surfshark from your Raspberry PI device.
- Make sure that everything is up to date before beginning the Surfshark setup process by running these two commands on your Raspberry Pi.
- sudo apt update
- sudo apt upgrade
- Now it is time to install the packages that are needed to set up Surfshark on your Raspberry Pi. The first package is OpenVPN which it used to connect to the Surfsharks VPN Servers.
- The second package is the unzip package that is used to extract the Surfshark OpenVPN configuration files that are needed. To install this, enter:
- sudo apt install openvpn unzip.
- You can use the following two commands to change the openvpn directory and then download the configuration files.
- sudo wget http://account.surfshark.com/api/v1/server/configurations
- The Surfshark configuration files will now be ready to unzip onto your Raspberry Pi device. In order to extract the files, you need to run the following command:
- sudo unzip configurations
- You no longer need to have the configuration archive on your devices so you can delete this archive by using the following command:
- sudo rm configurations
- Now you can use the IS command so that you can list all the config files that you have access to:
- Now you can use this list of files to work out exactly which VPN server you would like to connect to.
9) Use Open VPN to connect to Surfshark by using the following command while making sure that you replace YOUR_FILENAME with the file for the VPN you would like to connect to:
- sudo openvpn YOUR_FILENAME
10) Once you have connected to the server you will be asked to enter your Surfshark credentials that were found in the first section of this guide.
11) You will now be successfully connected to Surfshark from your Raspberry Pi device.
12) To disconnect from Surfshark all you need to do is quit the current running terminal by pressing CTL + C. If you would lie to kill all the current VPN running processes, then you can use:
- sudo killal openvpn
How to Guide: Build a Raspberry Pi retrogaming emulation console
What you will need:
HDMI Cable to hook the Pi to the Television set
An SD card
A Raspberry Pi Case
Windows or Mac computer system
To set up RetroPie, you’ll also need another computer system (Windows or Mac) that can write to SD cards.
Choose a storage option
An SD card is what holds the operating system, emulators, and game files. A bigger SD card means more room for games.
Choose a keyboard option
You need a basic USB keyboard for the initial setup. After that, you can use gaming consoles unless you want to change to more advanced options in the future.
Choose a controller option
It is best to use a multipurpose controller so that you can play games using many different systems. The Raspberry Pi has a built in Bluetooth so wireless controllers will work well.
Download the software
The RetroPie distribution disk image
An SD card image writing tool for Windows or Mac
Write the software to the SD card
The RetroPie disk image is going to be compressed. If you are using windows and you cannot extract the file, then you can then download 7-Zip which is a free compression tool and will assist you to extract the file you need. Now you need to run the installation program for your SD card image write tool. Install and then run the tool.
Win32 Disk Imager: Under the Device section of the program, select the drive letter for your SD card and make sure that it is the right one drive. Now click on the folder icon next to the Image File box in the program. Select the “retropie-x.x-rpi2_rpi3.img” file that was downloaded and decompressed earlier. Click the “Write” button.
ApplePi Baker: Under the Pi-Crust section of the program, select the SD card drive you want to write to. You will see “/dev/sda3”. Under the Pi-Ingredients section of the program, click on the […] button next to the white box and then select the “retropie-x.x-rpi2_rpi3.img” that you previously downloaded.
Now click the Restore Backup button, and the image will write to the SD card.
Assemble the hardware
- Assemble the case with the Raspberry Pi inside.
- Attach the optional aluminium heat sinks and now affix those to the tops of the two main black chips on the Pi board.
- Open the Raspberry Pi Case and lie all the pieces on the front of you. Insert the Pi into the case and carefully close it. Now attach the self-adhesive rubber feet to the bottom of the case.
- Remove the SD card from the computer that was used to initially write the images.
- Insert the SD cart into the SC slot at the bottom of the Pi. The label on the SD card should be facing outwards.
- Now plug everything in.
- Before you start up the system hook the HDMI cable to the Pi a well as a Tv set or monitor.
- Now it is time to plug in your USB keyboard and then plug in the USB gamepad.
- If you are using a wired internet connection, then make sure that you have plugged an Ethernet cable into the side of your Raspberry Pi.
- Before starting up the system by plugging it in. Bear in mind that the Pi has no on/off switch, so it will be on as long as it is plugged in. Hook the HDMI cable to the Pi and to a TV set or monitor.
- Plug in a 2.5-amp power adaptor to the AC outlet and then carefully plug in the micro USB connector into the side of your Raspberry Pi.
- The unit should now power up.
Configure the software
You will see a RetroPie splash screen and lot of text messages passing by. These are Linux boot messages and are useful for troubleshooting if something goes wrong. After a few moments the EmulationStation front end will start up and you will see a white screen that says “WELCOME”. Hold a button on your device to now configure a gamepad
Once this has been done you will see a menu called RetroPie that contains a list of shortcuts to set various settings. Configure your settings using your controller. Select RASPI-CONFIG from the list and hit the primary selection button on the controller. Now skip to the “Configure system-wide settings”.
If you’re using a wireless gamepad:
If you would like to use a Bluetooth gamepad you need to press F4 on the USB keyboard and end the Emulation Station. You will then see a black screen with text in the upper-left corner. Hit enter. You will see a blue menu with many text options. Using your keyboard, find the Bluetooth option and select it. Switch your controller into discovery mode and then search for it using the Bluetooth utility. Once you have found the Bluetooth utility you can then sync with it. Once this has been done you need to restart your Raspberry Pi and reboot the system. The EmulationStation will start up again and you will see a screen that says: “WELCOME. No gamepads detected, etc.”. Now you need to hit a few buttons on your game pad until is syncs up with the Pi. You will then be prompted to answer a long list of questions as well as assign buttons to controls. Once you have done this you will see a menu called RetroPie containing a list of shortcuts to set various other settings. Use your controller to select RASPI-CONFIG and then press the primary selection button on the controller. You will now be in the Raspberry Pi system settings program where you will be able to change any settings that you would like to change. The settings are as follows:
Overscan – when asked if you would like to enable compensation for displays with overscan, select no if you are using a HDMI TV or monitor. The only time you would click on yes is if you are using a composite TV set with a special cable.
Now you can click on Finish and then restart your Raspberry Pi.
Copy game files to the Raspberry Pi
Once you have set up both your hardware and software you can now add some game files.
Here is how to copy game files over to the Raspberry Pi
The easiest way is to use a Windows file-sharing program—called “Samba” used for Linux. This can be done whether you have a Mac or a Windows Machine.
Using Windows: Open a new Explorer window and type \\retropie into the location bar at the top.
Using a Mac: Open Finder and select Go from the menu at the top of the window, then select Connect to Server. In the box that appears type smb://retropie and click on connect.
Now that you’ve connected to the Pi via file sharing, click on the roms shared folder. You will see a big list of folders named after various game platforms. Drag-and-drop whatever ROM files or disk images you have into the proper platform-named directories on your Pi. After you’ve copied everything it is time to restart your Raspberry Pi through the EmulationStation “start” button menu. The games will now be recognized automatically.
Now it’s time to play and enjoy