Whether you're a hacker, tinkerer, maker or just all-around curious about what people are doing with 'smart' DIY projects these days, you've probably heard a thing or two about the Raspberry Pi development board.
Don't let 'development board' scare the jiggins out of you -- you don't have to have a PhD in computer science to get started with one of these bad boys. As a matter of fact, the Raspberry Pi was designed to be easy to pick up and learn in a matter of minutes.
So what does the dang thing do? Pretty much anything you want it to -- and that's where the magic starts. Raspberry Pi users have been creating everything from internet radios using antique radios found in thrift stores to coffee tables that feature a built-in video game unit.
The credit card-sized computer is the perfect starting point for anybody that wants to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. From browsing the Internet to playing games, the Raspberry Pi has the ability to interact with the outside world and is completely customizable per whatever your digital maker project agenda has in store.
The latest iteration of the do-anything board was released just last month and is available for $39.95 over on Amazon. The updated model features more connectivity options, better power management and more 'digital-making rock awesomeness'.
If you're curious to try out a Raspberry Pi and learn the basics of programming, consider one of these five projects to use as a launch pad:
1) Arcade Pi
Turn your Raspberry Pi into a full-fledged arcade gaming device. While it isn't necessary, you can go all the way and build an arcade game cabinet to house the computer in, too!
2) Internet Radio
We've all grown to love online music services like Spotify and Pandora, but oftentimes, we don't always prefer headphones when listening to the latest Weird Al release. Craft a handy-dandy internet radio and change how you sing in the shower forever.
Also known as 'drones', quadcopter popularity has been on the rise with everybody from filmmakers to Amazon utilizing the size and capabilities of these small aircrafts to get things done. Who knows when you'll want to take an aerial photograph of your backyard BBQ?
4) Internet-Connected Picture Frame
If you have a spare computer monitor or TV that's gathering dust, hook it up to a Raspberry Pi and turn it into a digital media panel to display photos and videos. Similar Internet-connected photo frames are selling for hundreds of dollars. Why not just make your own?
5) Build a Computer
Yep, you heard that right. The Raspberry Pi is perfectly capable of operating as its own computer interface with monitor, keyboard and mouse. While you may not be able to do heavy Photoshop work with it, it's still functional for small tasks.
You can get a Raspberry Pi for $39.95 over at Amazon.