some uses for a raspberry pi computer – introduction

A Raspberry Pi is a small inexpensive low power computer that hopefully has a use that chimes for you. I don’t think you’d want to use a Pi for emails and web browsing – it’s a tad inconvenient when compared to a laptop or Chromebook. But that is one negative out of many positives. The Pi is silent and it can be left running 24/7. And because of its low price, I can dedicate this computer to a single task. I have four and this is not a world record but the success of the RPi does however break a few world records.

Coincidentally the Raspberry Pi was designed here in Cambridge – at the time when my uni team was working with their uni team. When I first heard of it, I wasn’t sure it would rip through schools, though it pretty much did! I scooped this interview with two of the Raspberry Pi’s designers.

Some uses for a Raspberry Pi

  • A RPi will run Home Assistant, a home automation server that manages the lights, the heating and more. A chunk of this website is dedicated to showing why that’s useful.
  • I use a RPi to continuously display a web page showing all the information that my home automation server collects about train times, the weather, the amount of electricity and heating oil I’m using.
  • I use another RPi to run Octoprint which allows me to keep an eye on a 3D printer. It’s wonderful how much more functional that printer has become.
  • A RPi can take the role of the printer server called CUPS. Old printers don’t have wifi but CUPS connects them to the wifi and makes them available via Google Cloud Print. This same RPi has access to a disc where I can backup and archive files. This is network attached storage. Rarely do I copy a file with a USB stick.
  • There are other uses to toy with. You can use a Pi to run Volumio to deliver all your stored music. It’s an excellent app, but these days I listen to streamed music and my stored MP3s and CDs are history.
  • You can use a Pi to run Kodi or Plex – capable media apps that deliver your home movies, stored movies, music, photos to your TV. If your TV was a plain TV, Kodi or Plex would make it cleverer. It’s an alternative to having an Amazon Fire Stick but with full control over your media.
  • You can use a Pi to run Openhab, which like Home Assistant, is a home automation platform.
  • You can access a huge array of server software that runs as Docker containers. These server packages include Bittorrent for background downloading of huge files; Pi-hole for removing ads; Shinobi Video for a CCTV setup; Wireguard for safe remote access to the home network. To do this first install RaspOS Lite, then Open mediavault, then Docker and Portainer. Open Media Vault is the key to sharing files on an external drive. See the Youtube projects by Dave aka ‘DB Tech’.
  • For more uses for a Pi, see this article: 26 Awesome Uses for a Raspberry Pi
This is the web view of octoprint (or octopi), a outstanding, featureful 3D printer controller. One can also film time lapse video as an item is made.

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