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The Raspberry Pi is a great little machine—it’s very affordable, highly portable, and user-friendly. But when you first get one, it can be a challenge to figure out which projects you should take on first. These 10 Raspberry Pi projects for beginners are great for getting an introduction to the hardware and software capabilities of the Pi, and will help you get up and running in no time!

Pi-Powered Motion Sensor and Alarm

Sensors and alarms are often considered to be the domain of the Arduino How To Make a Simple Arduino Alarm System How To Make a Simple Arduino Alarm System Detect movement, then scare the heck out of an intruder with a high pitched alarm sounds and flashing lights. Does that sound fun? Of course it does. That's the goal of today's Arduino project, suitable... Read More , but the Raspberry Pi can work with hardware, too! Creating a simple motion sensor and piezo buzzer alarm will teach you the basics of working with external hardware with the Pi, and this particular project uses Python, so you’ll start learning a bit of that, too. You can get started with just a Pi, an SD card, a passive infrared sensor, a piezo buzzer, a single resistor, and some wires (though a breadboard will be useful, too).

Raspberry Pi Digital Picture Frame

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Although the components for this project are a bit more expensive than some of the others (you should be able to get everything for under $200), this is a really cool project that will result in a nice-looking digital picture frame Turn Your Old iPad Into A Dedicated Family Media Album Or Business Portfolio Turn Your Old iPad Into A Dedicated Family Media Album Or Business Portfolio Ever since I upgraded to the iPad Mini, I quickly realized I will never use my original 16GB iPad 1 in the same way I've used it for the last two years. But instead of... Read More that you can use around your house. Because the Pi is very versatile, you can also use it for movie streaming The Raspberry Pi Home Theater: What You Can And Cannot Do The Raspberry Pi Home Theater: What You Can And Cannot Do If you’ve been following our recent articles about the Raspberry Pi, you’ll know that it can be set up as a media streaming client with a dedicated XBMC build and you should also be aware... Read More or web browsing as well, making this a fun and useful project. A Raspberry Pi, an LCD screen and controller, and a frame are all you need to get it up and running. If you have an old monitor lying around or can scavenge one from somewhere, you’re all set!

Retro Gaming with RetroPie

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Old-school video games are awesome, and the Raspberry Pi can help you replay your childhood favorites Retro Gaming on the Raspberry Pi: Everything You Need to Know Retro Gaming on the Raspberry Pi: Everything You Need to Know Indeed, who in their right mind would have guessed that the little Raspberry Pi could prove so vital as a platform for so-called retro gaming, offering support for a vast array of emulators and different... Read More from NES, SNES, N64, Playstation, and a bunch of other systems. RetroPie is one of the most popular ways to do this, and it’s very easy to set up. Just add a USB controller (like this USB SNES controller) and you’re done. If you want to create a more permanent setup, spend a weekend building this awesome retro game cabinet Weekend Project: Build a RetroPie Arcade Cabinet with Removable Screen Weekend Project: Build a RetroPie Arcade Cabinet with Removable Screen Read More !

A Web Interface for Your Raspberry Pi

pi-interface

Setting up your Raspberry Pi to be controlled remotely is a great way to start learning some of the code that’s required for your Pi to interact with the outside world. This demo shows you how to turn LEDs on and off from your mobile phone through a simple user interface. Scripts are provided, so you won’t need to stumble your way through a lot of complicated coding, but looking through those scripts will teach you a lot about how to set up web-based apps for your Pi.

Personal Pi-Powered Web Server

You might think that setting up a web server would be a complicated endeavor, but it’s actually very easy, especially with utilities like OwnCloud, which will help you get it set up. The Raspberry Pi is great for use as a personal server where you can store photos, music, movies, or even host a small website: “cloud” services without the costs! You’ll need an SD card and an ethernet cord (or a Wi-Fi dongle if you want a wireless-capable server), and that’s about it. If you already have a personal server, you can also your use your Pi to monitor its status Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Network Monitoring Tool Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Network Monitoring Tool Network monitoring software Nagios is quick to install and straightforward to configure –but a waste of a full PC. Raspberry Pi to the rescue. Read More , instead.

Make Your Printer Wireless Make Your Own Wireless Printer With A Raspberry Pi Make Your Own Wireless Printer With A Raspberry Pi Fewer cables, flexibility about where you can put your printer – wireless printing is a win-win. Unless you have an older printer. Raspberry Pi to the rescue! Read More

muo-raspi-wireless-dongle-close

Wireless printers are great, but they can cost quite a bit more than USB printers. If you have one of the latter, a Raspberry Pi can help you turn it into a wireless device with a few simple commands and a Wi-Fi dongle that you can get for just $10. Insert the Wi-Fi dongle, plug in your printer, and run a few commands, and you’ll be printing from afar in no time at all.

Code a Pong Game

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With no extra parts whatsoever, this is a very simple project for starting to code with Python on your Pi. All of the code is provided in this tutorial for creating a version of Pong, the classic arcade game. If you’ve never used Python or Pygame before, this will be a very good introduction, and will help you get a handle on the basics before moving on to more complicated projects. You could also tweak the code to improve performance or change the game however you see fit.

Make Music with Sonic Pi

Sonic Pi turns your Raspberry Pi into a music-coding machine, letting you use basic programming skills The Basics Of Computer Programming 101 - Variables And DataTypes The Basics Of Computer Programming 101 - Variables And DataTypes Having introduced and talked a little about Object Oriented Programming before and where its namesake comes from, I thought it's time we go through the absolute basics of programming in a non-language specific way. This... Read More to make sound effects and music from short samples to full-length songs. Although Sonic Pi uses its own programming language, the principles that you’ll learn while making songs translate very well into more traditional languages. Leave yourself a lot of time to play around with this one—it can be quite addicting!

Ultrasonic Distance Measurement

Another good hardware tutorial, this project shows you how to get an ultrasonic sensor set up with your Pi and a breadboard and use that sensor to measure the distance to other objects. Again, this is a project that’s more often taken on with an Arduino, but the simplicity of the entire setup make sit a good Pi project, too.

Raspberry Pi AirPlay Receiver Turn An Old Amp Into A Smart Streaming Speaker With Raspberry Pi Turn An Old Amp Into A Smart Streaming Speaker With Raspberry Pi The ultimate self-contained music streaming speaker, with support for Spotify, Google Music, SoundCloud and Airplay. Let's do it. Read More

AirPlay speakers AirPlay vs Bluetooth Speakers: Which Do You Actually Need? AirPlay vs Bluetooth Speakers: Which Do You Actually Need? If you're an audiophile with a Mac or an iPhone, you've probably considered getting some wireless speakers and have been faced with the question: AirPlay or Bluetooth? Read More are great, but they can be really expensive. Fortunately, you can use a Raspberry Pi as an AirPlay receiver, giving your old speakers new life. With your Pi, a stereo jack, and a Wi-Fi dongle, you’ll be able to stream music from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to your speakers without dropping a lot of money to upgrade. In the project above, Harry turned his old amp into a smart streaming Airplay receiver that also has a web interface and hooks into loads of streaming services, thanks to the PiMusicBox OS.

Get Cooking

With all of these great Raspberry Pi projects for beginners, you’re sure to come across something you’re interested in. The best way to get started is to just pick a project and get going; you’ll learn the basics of how to use a Pi, and might even get some ideas for your own project!

Which projects have you found to be the best for Raspberry Pi beginners? What did you start out with? Share your experiences below!

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