My darling wife got me a RaspberryPi for Christmas, probably because I couldn't stop going on about it.
The first reaction from most people since has been "What does it do?" to which I have struggled to give an answer to...as it can do so much!
First off, its a hands-on mini computer that can always be on due to low power usage (5V). This means possibilities such as a webserver for either web or your LAN.
Second, its educational. It comes with basic Debian linux installed, so its a good way to brush up on those skills which I have found I needed more of recently, especially as Google Cloud Compute also runs off Debian. It also comes installed with Python and Mathematica (its only a question of time before I put R on there too)
Third it has ok graphics for its size so could function as a media server, serving up films and music.
Forth it has many sensors you can attach to it, such as IR sensors, Bluetooth iBeacons, cameras or voice activated systems. I was thinking some kind of voice activated gadget system, accessible via a web interface, or hooking it up to TechnicLego and making it part of a robot brain :)
The units cost about £40 each with accessories, which means with some skills you can replicate more expensive gadgets and have fun trying, and many people once they find a fixed function buy another one to look for more uses. Since I got it I have also bought a 7 Port USB Powered Hub, as the RaspberryPi can't power things such as external hard-drives on its own.
So far I have put the RaspberryPi next to our Wifi Router so that I can now:
- Connect from the web through our building Firewall via reverse SSH tunnelling, by connecting to a Free Tier Amazon linux box and forwarding ports via the always on connection (nefarious applications talked about here)
- Setup remote desktop and SSH so I can control the RaspberryPi from my MacBook Air.
- Started up an internal LAN homepage, for use in our flat. I'm hoping my talented web designer wife can make us a web-portal gateway for useful things we may need such as calendars.
- Hooked up an external hard drive to create a cheap alternative to Apple's TimeMachine for our MacBooks
- Mounted a 32GB USB stick to experiment with network storage using Samba.
All of which I'd have had no clue about unless I had got the gadget, so this is all WIN for me at the moment :)
Once these basics are done, I'll consider these next projects:
- The aforementioned brain for a LegoRobot
- A timelapse webcam
- A home greeting system - wave your phone at a sensor, a screen lights up with a personalised homepage
- A webcrawler gathering data for a specific project
- Home automation, although will need more gadgets to control...
Any other ideas?