5 Cool Uses for the $35 Raspberry Pi 3

Who wants Pi?

The Raspberry Pi Foundation just released the Raspberry Pi 3. It’s a full computer, as small as a credit card, and can be purchased from online sites including Element14 and RS Components. Its specs include 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

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This tiny machine is, as mentioned, a full running desktop PC. It is being used for everything from teaching coding to creating crazy hacks, such as turning this old Xbox controller turned into a gaming console.

There is a host of things one can do with a little imagination and know-how with the Raspberry Pi. And since the computer is affordable, it’s a great system to really learn on and experiment with. If you are new to using a Raspberry Pi computer, here are five cool beginner’s projects to try:

1. Make a full desktop PC

From Stuff.tv: You can turn a Raspberry Pi into a full desktop computer. You will need to head to the Raspberry Pi website and download the NOOBS operating system. You will also need an at minimum 8GB SD card. Format the card, copy NOOBS onto it, and then install the NOOBS software. A USB mouse and keyboard can be used with the Raspberry Pi (it has 4 USB 2.0 ports).

2. Create a media center

Also, from Stuff are instructions for turning the Raspberry Pi into a media center. From the NOOBS installation screen, look for an install package called “Openelec.” This is the media center. Once it’s installed the Raspberry Pi will boot right to this software. Copy music, movie, and images into folders you set up within the media center.

3. Build a TOR router

TOR routers are used to surf the web anonymously. Hacakday.io has instructions for turning a Raspberry Pi into a TOR router. Instead of using NOOBS, the site recommends installing the Raspbian software. The rest of the instructions detail step-by-step the commands you need to run and how to set up the Raspberry Pi as an access point.

4. Set up video surveillance

RaspberryPi.org  has some great instructions  for turning the Raspberry Pi into a video surveillance system. The instructions teach you how to setup the Raspberry Pi as a camera and how to record video with it and set up motion detection.

5. Run Windows virtually

Hackster.io has instructions on how to make the Raspberry Pi into a thin client that can run a Windows desktop session. This is done by downloading and installing WTware for Raspberry Pi and ensuring that the Windows machine is running Remote Desktop Services.