My First Adventures with the RaspberryPi

My darling wife got me a RaspberryPi for Christmas, probably because I couldn't stop going on about it.
Here's one:

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:

  1. 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)
  2. Setup remote desktop and SSH so I can control the RaspberryPi from my MacBook Air.
  3. 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.
  4. Hooked up an external hard drive to create a cheap alternative to Apple's TimeMachine for our MacBooks
  5. 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?