Author: Darhan Saami
The Raspberry Pi model was initially made for teaching purposes in developing countries. Its design attributes and extremely low price-points allowed it to be marketed to developing countries and schools nationwide; however, it outshone expectations and attracted many firms from other markets. The initial release in 2012 created a huge impact amongst tech enthusiasts since they could benefit from using these small one board computers in their own projects. It started being used in professional (industrial) projects related to robotics (like weather monitoring etc.). This phenomenon gave birth to the idea of using these small computers in personal projects to achieve a higher level of efficiency at a cheaper rate.
Many models have been released since 2012 to cater to the wide range of demand for one board computers. The following post explains what some of the more famous Raspberry Pi models can do and how you can utilize them in your projects. The post also looks at some popular small scale technological projects and how they can benefit from using a Raspberry Pi computer.
Capabilities of the Models
The company claims that tech enthusiasts, professionals, and hobbyists can integrate these small computers in projects that involve making games, music, robots, digital art, websites, and other problem-solving computing projects. To facilitate the different kinds of projects, there exist several models. This section explains the capabilities of some of the more powerful and popular models of Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B: The pi 3 had been a flagship model of the company for the past couple of years. However, the company dropped this new product as an upgrade to the 3. It comes at a similar price-point but with better features. With this model, you can run up to two displays at once. Users can run both displays in 4K resolution. The size and is similar to the 3 so that it can be fitted into older projects easily. The upgrade comes in the USB port department as users can now two USB 3 ports with the USB 2 ports from the previous model. The processor has also been upgraded, giving better performance and higher clock speeds in early tests. It comes with onboard wireless, Bluetooth, and an ethernet port so that the device has the best connectivity facilities. Customers can choose what RAM they want according to the project they want to make. If your project benefits from multiple displays and having wireless connectivity, then this may be the model for you. It is the latest addition to the Raspberry Pi flagship models and is perfect for gaming emulation, designing, along with the usuals (web surfing, spreadsheet processing, etc.).
Raspberry Pi 400: This computer has been built into a keyboard, which boasts a neat and compact design. The keyboard has a couple of ports to connect your input and output devices, and there is not much more to it. The quad-core processor inside the keyboard is supported by 4 GB RAM as well as a 40 pin GPIO header. It also has a dual display capability and supports 4K video playback. It is based on the board of the Pi 4, so it has similar capabilities. However, if you are a neat freak and like everything to be organized, then this model is for you. It will give your project a sophisticated look along with the same features of the Raspberry Pi 4. It is not just a single board, so make sure your set-up has enough space to incorporate a medium-sized keyboard rather than just a small board. It is integral to teaching and other educational programs.
Raspberry Pi Pico: This small micro-controller board costs less than $5! Yes, you read that correctly. It boasts a 264 KB internal memory and a range of I/O options to fit just about any small-scale project. It can be programmable in languages like C and MicroPython, allowing it to be used by beginners and experts alike. You can program it to work with appliances, displays, lights, and just about any other component of your project. It is a cheap entry point into the world of “microcomputers” while being a very efficient and versatile board that is almost always the experts’ first choice.
This section has covered some of the newer and more famous products from Raspberry Pi; however, if you are just a beginner or have an older Raspberry Pi lying around, then that would work with most projects too. Suppose the project does not require dual displays or very high clock speeds than older Raspberry Pis would work perfectly fine. If you want to upgrade from that older version to one of the new ones mentioned above, you could do so very easily since all Raspberry Pi’s products are backward compatible.
Popular Projects Made Using Raspberry Pi Models
The immense capability of this credit-card-sized computer means that it can be used in almost any computing project. It also means that we cannot cover every project out there to explain which one uses which model. Therefore, this section goes over some famous projects that use Raspberry Pi’s different models and gives you tips on how you can integrate Raspberry Pi and projects similar to them. The projects below illustrate the range of possibilities of this small computer to inspire you into using this product in a new and innovative way.
One of the most interesting projects made from a Raspberry Pi was a portable weather station. You can choose from a number of physical sensors and the Python libraries in the model to program it to analyze data for you. It can be used to collect and interpret data from your surroundings. With a few tweaks and an expertly written program, it has the capability to be used on moderately sized farms. It is a cheap alternative to relying on other sources for your weather information. You can get the sensors needed for low prices too! The model used in this project requires a built-in wireless system that is found in the Raspberry Pi 3 and 4 models. A wireless dongle can also be used with models that do not have wireless support. Similarly, you can use other software for leveraging powerful Python API’s to serve other similar projects, such as monitoring gas levels in a greenhouse or water levels in a well. Even a security system dependent on motion sensors can be built with this model of Raspberry Pi.
You can use your Raspberry Pi to make a portable FM station as well! You would need a wire (to be used as an antenna) and a program (that can be downloaded and compiled) to build this project. You can even customize it to transmit your signals live. You would need a connection to the internet as well as a microphone to help you complete this project.
Using Java and some build tools, you can run Minecraft on your model of Raspberry Pi too! A Lan cable is all that is required after you have installed Minecraft on to the computer. Launch the server from the Pi and enable it so that any computer around your house can connect to it. The idea from this is that Raspberry Pi can be used to create game servers, print servers, network file servers, and even VPN servers. With the correct programming tools and software, anything can be done on this computer. The new Pi 400, as well as the models that support Wi-Fi, can all be used for similar purposes.
A more technical project would be based around artificial intelligence (AI). You can try your hand with AI by using Google’s assistant and cloud SDK to program your Raspberry Pi models. Some configurations would be required to run it. There are many AI options available on the model, but starting with Google can be the easiest way around this field of technology.
Along with all the other projects, the Raspberry Pi 4 and 400 can be used to make bots (based on Twitch, Twitter, and other websites), Wi-Fi extenders, automation systems, and some music applications! This technology truly is limitless. The most famous models are also the most flexible ones; thus, they can be utilized in the projects named above or the ones that you come up with in your spare time.
The Raspberry Pi computers outdid their expectations for a reason. They were never meant to just be used in teaching. If they could run programming languages, that means they can be integrated into real-life systems to perform tasks utilizing that programming language. So, in teaching environments, its capabilities are limited to displaying programming languages to the students; however, it actually uses the languages to produce seamless problem-solving tools in real-life projects. The computer is only bound by your imagination so do not hesitate to experiment with the models and the codes running on it.
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