Raspberry Pi Projects: A Car With Night Vision, Google Glass-like Translation, And More

Christian Cawley 12-04-2013

raspberry pi projectsOne day it’s a server, the next day it’s a core component in a budget space program. Tomorrow – who knows what?


The Raspberry Pi has become something of a phenomenon, enabling low cost media centres, portable web servers and much more.

We’ve previously looked at some excellent uses for this British minicomputer The Top 5 Amazing Uses For Your Raspberry Pi Computer I’ve recently received my Raspberry Pi after a long wait – and I’ve got quite a few plans for it. The problem is, I’m not totally sure which project I want to attempt first. While... Read More , but the fact is that it is just so versatile that there is always something amazing to talk about. Who would have thought that the Raspberry Pi could be used for so much more than its original purpose of educating, providing a platform for children to learn how to program?

Indeed, who could have imagined its important role in brewing beer, controlling a robot or as a core component to a Project Glass 5 Reasons Why Google's Project Glass Is The Future & Why That's Awesome [Opinion] Google’s Project Glass has everyone talking. It’s a glimpse of the future of augmented reality, wearable computing, and better integration of the Internet and technology in our day-to-day lives. Imagine replacing your smartphone with a... Read More style system? If you are sitting on the fence about the Pi, confused by (irrelevant) comparisons with the Arduino, you’ll be fascinated to learn that the two can run in tandem…

The following Raspberry PI projects can all be completed in a single weekend.


Remarkable as it may seem, it is possible to connect the Raspberry Pi to an Arduino. The main purpose of this is to use the Pi as a web-based controller for the Arduino.


raspberry pi projects

A couple of methods are available for connecting the device. The first is via USB, but this takes up one of the Pi’s valuable USB ports and requires Arduino programming on the Pi. A second, better option is the Pi’s UART port, which can be connected to the Arduino’s Serial port (breakout boards are also an option).

The purpose of all of this, as described above, is to use the Raspberry Pi as a receiver for web-based commands that will control the Arduino. Such a system can prove extremely useful both to hobbyists and enthusiasts and even in the industry.

Full details on the project can be found at


A Raspberry Pi RoboCar

One way in which a combined Pi and Arduino can be employed is as a controller for a robot.

The Dark Pi Rises project sees the two computers combined via USB with a USB battery power pack, USB hub, enabling instructions to be sent to the Arduino to control the LEDs and motors of the robot itself – in this case, a remote-controlled car.

Naturally, the car will continue to be remote controlled, in this case with a PS3 controller, but the really cool element is that it also has a PS3 eye webcam connected, with the IR filter removed, enabling you to drive the car at night and view what it sees!

Find out more on the project’s website (, or checkout the YouTube video for a look at the results.


The Raspberry Pi Space Program

The compact size of the Raspberry Pi and its wide featureset makes it the perfect piece of kit to base a low-altitude space program upon.

raspberry pi project ideas

Dave Akerman, a High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) enthusiast, has used the Pi – in conjunction with a webcam, GPS, and batteries – to take photos of near-space with the data sent back to earth, using a balloon.

What is so amazing about this (yes, it gets better) is that the $25 for the Raspberry Pi and the low price of the other equipment means that any school can run its own space program! There’s no need to worry about the Pi, either – as long as it comes back to earth on land, it should be retrievable, thanks to the GPS.


Find out more about Dave’s PIE1 project on his blog

The RetroPie Project

Along with media centres, one of the most popular uses for the Raspberry Pi has been as a retro gaming device.

At the time of writing, the minicomputer is capable of running MS-DOS, ScummVM, Commodore and Atari ST software thanks to a wide selection of emulators that are available.

raspberry pi project ideas

Perhaps the best emulation solution is ChameleonPi, a remix of the common Raspberry Pi OS Raspbian Optimize The Power Of Your Raspberry Pi With Raspbian As befits a man with too much tech on his hands, I’ve been playing with my Raspberry Pi recently, configuring the device so that it works to its fullest potential. It continues to run as... Read More that has had the GUI removed in favour of a launcher menu. Once loaded up, you can then use the chosen emulator to run ROMs from your SD card. Combine this with controllers (USB is common, but genuine NES gamepads aren’t unusual) and you have yourself an instant retro gaming system. You might even show it off to friends by building it into a carry case!

Details can be found at

Project PiGlass

Google Glass has proved to be a popular talking point on tech websites, but if you’re sick of waiting for it to be released, you don’t have to wait any longer.

raspberry pi project ideas

By pairing up a Raspberry Pi with some Vuzix 1200 Star glasses, you can gain a similar effect, enhanced by Bluetooth microphone and headset – not to mention a wireless Internet connection in order to download and display all of the information you need.

See how this system can be used to enjoy real-time conversation with someone who speaks a different language using Microsoft’s translation API at

Manage Your Microbrewery with Raspberry Pi

The projects above will all go down very nice if at the end you have a nice pint of beer to sink.

Raspberry Pi Projects: A Car With Night Vision, Google Glass-like Translation, And More muo rpiprojects beer

I was astonished to learn that the Raspberry Pi can be used to help manage the brewing process in concert with an Adafruit Pi Plate, placing the minicomputer in charge of temperature control. By being able to accurately monitor the temperature remotely (thanks to the data that can be output to the Pi and accessed across a network) homebrew beer enthusiasts can work towards perfecting their tipple.

The element14 website has full details on how this was achieved.

Conclusion: Everyone Should Have a Raspberry Pi

I continue to be amazed at the diverse uses for the Raspberry Pi, and I know that its creators are similarly astounded.

raspberry pi projects

There is, of course, every reason to ignore space programs and robot cars in favour of retro gaming and beer, but then, if you did that, you would be missing out on what might be the nearest opportunity you could have for viewing Earth from above.

All of these Raspberry PI projects are affordable and achievable, so get started and let us know how you get on! If you need help getting started, kick things off with our free downloadable Raspberry Pi user guide Raspberry Pi: The Unofficial Tutorial Whether you're a current Pi owner who wants to learn more or a potential owner of this credit-card size device, this isn't a guide you want to miss. Read More .

Image Credit: ArduinoWeather BalloonGamepadGoogle Glass, Homebrew Beer

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  1. Lauren
    May 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm


    Do you know if any of those projects are similar to these at least in terms of skill level?

    Trying to figure out which one I should work on. "If" I were to buy a Raspberry Pi

    Or would it be better to do one of the basic ones that you mentioned Christian?

    • Christian Cawley
      May 16, 2013 at 9:47 am

      If you're new to the Pi and to projects of this sort, stick to media centre, PC and retro gaming to get started, then progress to things like security alarms and controlling other processes. Once you're familiar with everything, move on to breakout boards.

      If you can get hold of a weather balloon, though, don't miss out on starting your own space program!

  2. Chris Marcoe
    April 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    If you use Reddit and are interested in the Raspberry Pi, you can find hundreds of ideas, and help for those ideas, there.

    this is a great article, Christian. Thank you.

  3. Scott M
    April 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    There are so many uses for Raspberry Pi.I have a few projects that I'm considering trying.Make magazine has provided directions and reviewed many projects that are incredibly useful and inexpensive to build. I'm not what is considered to be an adept high builder or coder but these projects all look within my area of expertise.

  4. Pooky Joralyn
    April 13, 2013 at 7:54 am

    What about making an RC plane?

    • Chris Marcoe
      April 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      I think a lot of people who have a Pi are looking into Prototyping and things that haven't been done extensively. Now, if you took the RC plane one step further and thought about making an autonomous RC plane, now THAT would be a great idea.

  5. macwitty
    April 13, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I think "Manage Your Microbrewery with Raspberry Pi" might give it a boost ;)

  6. ReadandShare
    April 12, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Seems like 'every other day' -- we get yet another cool Raspberry article. Nice and all, but I really am curious how many readers here own a Raspberry anyway? A small handful?

    And of course, if I am wrong, I'll probably get flamed mercilessly... but as they say, curiosity kills the cat. And this cat is mighty curious. :)

    • Christian Cawley
      April 13, 2013 at 6:35 am

      I'm not sure it matters how many own a Pi, more how many are interested in the computer.

      As for "every other day" - perhaps the most regular we've managed is two consecutive weeks, so your counting is most certainly out...

    • Andy
      September 17, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      I've got one, and I love it.
      Now, as a side-effect of going for a walk every day, I collect beercans. Yep, you heard.
      In Finland, each can is worth €0,15, so it takes about 600 cans to buy a Pi, case and PSU.
      Sounds a lot, but I get between 10-15 every walk. Many more on a Friday/Saturday evening. So, 2-3 months, I've got a new Pi!
      (What do I use mine for? Detecting fish. You asked (or didn't) )

    • Andy
      September 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Looking at,, adafruit's pages,, designspark, element14 and many, many similar, I reckon about 5 articles/day.

  7. Tom Six
    April 12, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Who knew Raspberry Pi had so many uses...I'm in real shock over this. I want me some Raspberry PI with a slice of raspberry pie!

    • Chris Marcoe
      April 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      If you do a searchn for RasPi ideas, you will litterally get 100s of ideas. In really big chucks too. $0 ideas. #5 ideas. Check it out. Its great.