Raspberry Pi is the name of a series of inexpensive single-board computers that can serve as the core of many hobbyist projects. It’s easy to get started with a kit, or you can put the pieces together yourself. Here are a handful of fun things you can do with a Raspberry Pi 4, the current model.
Build a Retro Game Console
If you love playing old video games but don’t have room to collect the actual consoles and cartridges or discs (which are getting pricey), you can use a Raspberry Pi as an inexpensive retro console. All you need is a Raspberry Pi, the RetroPie OS, a controller, and a display.
It’s worth noting that downloading ROMs or disc images of games you don’t already own is illegal, so proceed at your own risk. But if you find a legal source of games (such as Public Domain homebrew releases, or ROMs you can legally purchase on itch.io), you can have a lot of fun on the cheap.
Build a Network Storage Device
Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are great for backups, but they can be pricey. If you have a Raspberry Pi, some USB hard disks, and a little spare time, you can roll your own NAS on a budget.
To do so, you’ll need to prep your Raspberry Pi with a Linux operating system, Samba support (which allows the creation of Windows network shares), and NTFS support, among other steps. If you prefer Macs, you can use your Raspberry Pi for Time Machine backups as well. There are several ways to go about the details, but we’ve written a guide about it that you can consult for more ideas.
Build a Low-Cost Media Center
Although the popularity of Netflix and other streaming services has made home media centers less popular these days, if you still have a library of digital video (including home movies) you’d like to stream over a local network, you can install software called Kodi on your Raspberry Pi that can let you play videos, display photos, record live TV, stream files from the network, and even play some games.
To set it up, you’ll need to download Kodi for the Raspberry Pi, a microSD card with enough storage, and optionally, a FLIRC infra-red interface if you want to control your new media center with a remote control. Sometimes it’s nice to take control of your own digital media display options.
Build a Streaming Game Machine
Once you have a PC with the GeForce Experience software installed, you can run Steam on that PC and connect to it remotely with your Raspberry Pi. If your local network is fast enough, you’ll have a compelling gaming experience without needing to relocate your gaming PC.
Build a Tiny Windows PC
The Raspberry Pi 4 is an ARM-based platform, which means it can’t run Intel versions of Windows. But believe it or not, it can run special ARM-based versions of Windows 10 and 11. Using a script called WoR-flasher and a USB drive with 8 GB or more of storage, you can transform your Pi into a tiny, cheap Windows PC.
The results are reportedly sluggish, since a Raspberry Pi is somewhat under-powered for the task—and you’ll only be able to use a limited set of ARM-compatible apps—but running Windows on a Raspberry Pi might just be the ultimate nerd trick. Have fun out there!
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