Feb 13, 20176874 views

We need more Pi!


I am a HUGE fan of the Raspberry Pi, and have found so many uses for fun and utility for the Pi around the house. At any given point I have no less than 3 Pi's actively filling some role around my house, with a few more always sitting around for projects/testing/etc. The Pi 3 has really made the Pi a computing powerhouse for the price ($35 retail) and the size, and is not only significantly more powerful and faster than the Pi 2, but has integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well!
I think a common misconception is that Pi's are just for programmers and tech-savvy folks, but that simply is not the case. Because the Pi was created to be an introduction tool for learning some basic programming and understanding to how computers work, there is a massive amount of excellent documentation and tutorials that can walk you through setting up operating systems, installing programs, and creating all sorts of projects with your Pi.
Yes I know Massdrop has had some kits in the past (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/seeed-raspberry-pi-3-b-w-starter-kit), though the kits are not great (for example, the linked post included a USB wireless adapter....even though the Pi 3 already has integrated Wi-Fi), and better kits are cheaper elsewhere. I would LOVE to see some kits actually curated for some specific projects/uses on Massdrop BY Massdrop (I know there are some employees there totally capable of coming up with a great kit!!). Massdrop also already sells some great controllers that can be used with the Pi (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/8bitdo-snes30-sfc30-retro-bluetooth-gamepad) made by 8Bitdo at prices that are lower than anywhere else!
I thought I'd share a little about what I use my Pi's for, hopefully as a way to get even a few other people interested in them! I don't intend for this to be a guide (if more interest is around, I can do some though), just a teaser post to see what the interest actually is.
I think the absolute MOST FUN you can have with a Pi 3 is by setting up RetroPie. RetroPie can turn a Raspberry Pi into a full fledged retro-gaming machine, capable of playing games from early systems like Atari and SNES, handheld games from Gameboy and Gameboy Advanced, all the way up to Nintendo 64 and Playstation. Talk about Nostalgia overload!
For my RetroPie, I wanted it to look the part as well, so had a 3D printed case made and threw in a Green LED that turns on when the system is on just to give it some vintage NES vibes. I also have a case fan that runs constantly just because it can get pretty hot when running games that require a lot of processing power (mainly N64 and Playstation games). For those that are truly terrified to even try to set up RetroPie, you can even buy SD cards preloaded with thousands of games and RetroPie on ebay for relatively cheap (though I'd HIGHLY recommend setting it up yourself!)
The Pi can be used for more than just fun and games though. One of my favorite utility uses for the Pi is as a Pi-Hole (https://pi-hole.net/). Pi-Hole is a piece of software that acts as a network-wide ad blocking solution. This works on any device, regardless of the hardware or OS.
Pi-Hole works with many Linux distros, including Noobs and Raspbian, the software that comes with many Pi 3 kits. Set up is unbelievably simple, requiring a single command in the terminal, which will bring up a GUI to help finish the installation. During the installation you will set a static IP address for your Pi, and when installation is finished you simply need to open up your router configuration and change the DNS server to the IP address of the Pi. That's it.
I have a Pi 2 running Pi-Hole in my house and LOVE it! I had an extra 3.5 inch screen that I use to monitor Pi-Hole in real time:
(Just ignore my utterly obsolete router, forget you even saw it ;)
This is honestly even a little excessive, because you can easily access the admin page (which is being displayed on the screen) on any device on your network, I just wanted to use the screen for something. The admin page gives you detailed info about what the Pi-Hole is up to, and gives you access to features like a whitelist and blacklist.
The last thing I always have Pi's for around the house are as fully functioning computers for web surfing and general use. I have Ubuntu running on a Pi my wife uses as her home PC that mainly just involves checking email, and have a Pi running the stock Raspbian OS in my guestroom. Ubuntu is fun to have, though Raspbian does run noticeably quicker, and comes with everything you need from a browser, a full office software suite, and even Minecraft! When I upgraded my main PC's monitor, it was a no-brainer to put the monitor I replaced to use as the guest computer!
The Raspberry Pi is a very affordable little piece of tech with nearly unlimited potential. I'd love to see what some of you are using your Pi's for! I know many folks that use them as a media center alternative to things like the Roku and Apple TV. If there are any Pi specific things you'd like to see drop, or have ideas for kits, or just want to discuss the Pi in general please comment!
gorian2222, Hasan Öncü, and 67 others

I have 5 Pi's currently...
Pi 3 - Used as a home front end VPN server, monitoring all the other computers and IoT devices in the home. Pi 3 - Running RetroPie, clipped to the back of the TV. Pi 2 - With pan/tilt camera kit used in the kitchen to keep an eye on our dog when we're out. Pi 2 - Running OpenElec on a TV in the bedroom. Pi 1 - Still in use on my desk at work which I'll occasionally SSH into to convert some certificates with OpenSSL or various other tasks which are just easier with Linux.
As sad as this sounds, I have a pi just to program my qmk keyboards. I started programming them on linux, and was too lazy to figure out how to get it working on windows. I was also tired of dual booting, and the vm was giving me grief. 20/20, this seems ridiculous, but it was a natural evolution for me.
hello guys was thinking about making a system that controls my utilities (gas water electric ) especially during this summer months do you guys think pi would be a good fit , pls let me know your recommendations or ideas. PS: new to the community don't really know how this works.
I'm totally on board. If MD got us a deal on a Pi I'd definitely purchae one.
I like your thinking! How about a PI Zero 360° camera kit. Or a PI Zero battery/solar powered waterproof Wi-Fi security camera? A PI 3 NAS kit?
I just made a Pi 3 NAS a few days ago and a Pi Plex server. So far so good on both. I also have a Pi running a little git server now that is pretty handy.
I'd love to a Pi kit with upto 6 camera's. The camera's need about 3m of cable and a touch screen display to fit a stereo slot in the car... Front, rear and possibly all 4 wheels can be viewed from the drivers seat for the 4wd 👍🏼
camera's what? how many drivers?
Haven’t looked that far, happy for ideas at this stage
There would be a lot of interest, if there was a way to make this mine bit coins which is completely legal. Or if it could be used as a resource generator for some popular games such as clash of clans and war robots on Google play which would also be completely legal. Or if it could be used as a bot for those games. If it could be used for development work such as testing android for vulnerabilities to obtain root which is also not illegal as it is just developer work.
There are already ways to get Pi's working in tandem to mine coins : not worth it. The amount of Pi's you'd need comes close to the cost of what a single GPU costs, and a single GPU can't handle most mining operations these days either. So it's not going to magically boost interest on MD by tossing "Mining" on the box.
Everything else you stated isn't platform dependent...so, once again, no one is going to rush to pick up a Pi for what can already do, and doesn't do any better than a desktop/laptop.
This is awesome! Thank you for the post. These are some great projects.
I have been learning python, mostly for data analysis, and have been looking for a physical project to challenge my skills. I had seen the raspberry pi on massdrop a few times and this was actually the first place that I came for answers!
Yeah the Pi is so great for learning on! Not only is the hardware cheap, but you can use old SD cards you may have and easily try new OS' easily as well.
Kodi is one of the best live streaming apps around. Much better than Plex of Netflix, i have been using Kodi for years now and i don't think about replacement, i suggest you to give it a try you'll forget about Plex or Netflix, i visited a site yesterday it has explained all the installation and updation process of kodi. Here is the link i hope you'd give it a go. https://crumbles.co/update-kodi/
Plex definitely has a few perks over Kodi, but the user interface Kodi has is a lot better. Both are pretty great, though depending on specific needs you may enjoy one better than the other.
I run BOTH Kodi and Plex. There is a Plex add-on for Kodi. The 2 together is a DREAM!! Try it 😉
haha that's my router
you have my condolences =P
Excellent job. I am putting together a retro pi setup right now. Where did you get the Nintendo looking controller with the joysticks and extra buttons?
Massdrop haha!
That's awesome, I'd love a shot at 1 of these. Pretty awesome projects, LSB!
Currently working on getting my pi-hole up and running. ;) Then plan to add in RetroPie for some gaming goodness. Eventually I might tackle the OnionPi project for some Tor network security. All from a little $35 computer. Super cool for sure!
Thanks Andy - definately second this one.
I have 7 Pi's at the moment, five of them are actively employed. 1. Pi 3 Retropie Arcade machine (bartop/full size convertible) http://i.imgur.com/RIot2OT.jpg 2. Pi 3 OSMC - Kodi based media center front-end using TV Addons for streaming shows that aren't available on Netflix, Amazon, or any channel specific apps (ABC, FOX, etc.). LOVE this setup. I recommend an air mouse and learning basic shortcut keys for kodi (M to bring up video controls for example). Setup Instructions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lpDtM2Shsw 3. Pi 1b Musicbox - http://www.pimusicbox.com/ Mine's installed and setup but my receiver is on the fritz so I haven't actually deployed it yet in my living room. It's recommended to use a cheapy USB sound card for better sound output with this one. 4. Pi 3 - Desktop compy in my shop connected to a 32" LCD tv I got for free - I have game nights, shop nights, and hangouts out there all the time and it comes in handy for looking up vid tutorials for something I'm building, researching ideas, youtube watching, etc. 5. Pi 2b - Pi-hole - Haven't deployed yet, I'm working on installing an AP first. https://pi-hole.net/
I've seen some NES/SNES/Atari themed stickers/decals for the official Pi case floating around that would be a fantastic addition to a Retropie themed run - I could certainly design some original ones if MD is inclined to source a case and give me some dimensions. The cheap $5 USB NES/SNES controllers floating around china are surprisingly good as well. Of course you could also do a full arcade kit with buttons, joystick, and usb controller interface.
dude your arcade cabinet is awesome!!
Thanks! I'm definitely in love with it. I can't make up my mind for kiosk art and the base needs a door in the front and it will be officially done on the hardware side; I'll probably always be messing with the software trying new systems and games and software improvements.