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Four great uses of the Raspberry Pi

03 September 2019

In the final part of this exclusive series, Sven Pannewitz, Product Manager, reichelt elektronik, gives you four great uses of the Raspberry Pi.

For makers everywhere, the Raspberry Pi has been a great tool for anyone looking to build their own devices. A small but mighty computer, capable of doing so many things for beginners and above levels for DIY computing projects, it’s a must-have for learning the basics of computing.

Here are four great uses of the Raspberry Pi, just a handful of what this wonderful microcomputer can do:

Create your own Media Centre with Raspberry Pi and KODI

With so many photos, movies and music available to download these days, things can start to get a little cluttered. KODI, free media centre software, and the Raspberry Pi form the perfect way to store and enjoy your whole media collection. With KODI, you can easily manage, play and organise your photos, music, TV shows and movies into a Media Centre.

To build your own media centre, you’ll need the Raspberry Pi, a power supply, SD card, and a case and cooling kit.

Firstly, setting up the KODI on Raspberry Pi is simple with free advice available on the company’s website. Under the basic distribution options, we recommend the widely used LibreELEC and OSMC due to its easy installation.

It’s handy at this point to connect a mouse and a keyboard to your Raspberry Pi, then you can switch between the program items using the arrow keys on your keyboard, select using the cursor and confirm using the enter key.

Enter the SD card type and the desired operating system, insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi, connect it to power and start the installation and follow the instructions on the screen.

Once installed, you can import your media data from a connected hard drive and neatly sort them by media type. Controlling KODI is easy too, as it can be done with a mouse, keyboard, remote control and even via the app Kore. To do this, select the setting “Services – Web server” in the system menu of KODI. If your smartphone or tablet is now on the same network as the Raspberry Pi, then it should be able to detect all running KODI installations on the network.

Own Cloud with the Raspberry Pi

The cloud is everywhere these days, with the big four tech companies all owning a vast version of their own, but anyone who isn’t associated with a billion-dollar firm can have one of their own too.

With NextCloud, an open source software available to all, the Raspberry Pi can be transformed into a cloud server too. It can be used for photo galleries, media playback, data synchronisation, calendars, and also share data with specific participants for collaboration. As more RAM is preferred for this project, we would recommend using the Raspberry Pi 3B+ and later models.

To install NextCloud on your Raspberry Pi you must first set up a complete LAMP environment (Linux, Apache, My SQL, PHP). Then you need to encrypt communication using SSL certificates. The NextCloudPi project offers a simple solution for this. This is an image that is based on Raspbian 9 and contains both NextCloud and the entire environment for it already pre-installed (Apache, the database MariaDB, PHP, etc.) Here you save some time-consuming steps.

Then it’s just a case of following a few more steps, found here on our website, and another cloud will have entered the technosphere.

Build your own Raspberry Pi Smart Home device

Another piece of tech that has become more popular in recent years is the smart home device. Capable of making life at home much easier, smart devices can do many things such as controlling your lighting in different rooms. However, devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have their limitations, such as controlling devices that don’t have a smart interface and integrating all existing smart home systems into one central unit. 

With the Raspberry Pi, the free software openHABian, RPI relay board, a screen, PC keyboard and internet connection, you can do just that.

Once you have all the components, follow the 8 steps on our website to installing the hardware and software, and you’ll have your own home-made smart device to control everything with a touch.

Use Raspberry Pi as an adblocker for your entire network

Online security is a priority in a world where we access the internet through so many different devices. Whether it’s your smartphone, tablet or PC, you can guarantee to be bombarded with annoying and even harmful adverts. The Raspberry Pi, combined with a small open-source programme called ‘pi-Hole’, can protect your network from ads you don’t want to ever see.

The advantage of using the RPi and pi-Hole to protect your network is, unlike traditional adblockers, the adverts won’t even reach your devices from the start. This reduces the volume of data, your device consumes less resources, and the likelihood of malware infection from malicious advertising decreases. It also means that you can be free from adverts on all your mobile devices anytime and anywhere with pi-Hole’s Call-to-Home VPN software.

For this project, you will need the Raspberry Pi, pi-Hole software, screen, PC keyboard and an internet connection. Then follow the steps on our website to set up the devices and software, then feel the bliss of being completely ad-free.

As Raspberry Pi continues to release more powerful versions, there continues to be inventive ways that people can use the microcomputer. This opens up many new avenues that people, from beginner levels and above, can take to experiment and innovate in the world of computing.

Go back to the beginning and read Part 1 of this series: Pi versus Pi: Which is right for your project?

Or read Part 2 of this series: Getting started with the Raspberry Pi 4

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