With the recent release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the excitement is at fever pitch. Whether you are a purist who just follows the movies, or someone who is deeply ingrained in the wider universe and lore, the force is on everyone’s mind.
If you are into tinkering with DIY electronics, Star Wars can be the perfect muse for projects. We have already covered some fantastic Arduino Star Wars projects, along with some frankly mind blowing DIY Jedi builds. Now it’s time to concentrate on everyone’s favorite single board computer: the Raspberry Pi.
In this article we will cover various Raspberry Pi Star Wars builds. From the simple beginner project to the absurdly complicated, there will surely be something here to fire off your creativity!
1. Buzzer Wars
Many Raspberry Pi boards are sold with a starter kit, made up of various components useful to beginners. Most of these kits come with a Piezo buzzer (you can make sure of this and save money by making your own beginner kit). What better way to familiarize yourself with basic circuitry and coding than by recreating the infamous Imperial Death March?
This video comes from YouTuber Leon Anavi and explains in excellent detail everything required in order to create your own dark side anthem. The code is provided in the video description, though the tutorial also takes you through how to clone it directly from GitHub.
This simple project is a great way to get to grips with the Pi terminal, and how simple programs can affect your components to great effect! Check out our beginner Tutorial for the Raspberry Pi for an in-depth guide to get you started!
No self respecting Jedi or Sith would be seen without their trusty Lightsaber, and the tiny footprint of the Pi Zero makes it perfect to drive a DIY light sword. Maker Richard Hayler clearly thought so and used the Pi Zero as the driving force behind his pool noodle pi powered light saber, or PiSaber for short.
By combining cheap building materials with an LED matrix, an accelerometer, and a few extra simple components, this build manages to be high tech while looking cartoonish and fun at the same time. The code, available from the PiSaber GitHub repository, uses the accelerometer to detect movement and light up the string of LEDs on the “blade” accordingly.
The 8×8 LED matrix in the handle cycles through colors at random to create a shimmering effect, and the whole unit fits nicely into the pool tube, powered by a small phone battery charging bank.
This build shows the huge potential that the Pi Zero could have in this role, and by combining this tech with a more authentic looking Lightsaber build you could just end up the coolest Jedi on the block.
3. R2-D2 Pi-0
Everyone should have their own personal R2-D2. While there are some fantastic Star Wars toys available it’s hard to beat the feeling of making your own robot.
This comes with its own set of challenges however, and recreating the look of the iconic droid can prove to be both difficult and costly. Maker Les Pounder found a great way to solve this issue by using a cheap R2-D2 toy as the basis for his custom Pi Zero droid.
This ingenious little bot combines an Explorer pHat board with some basic robotics components to bring Artoo to life. The full tutorial takes you through the build along with some basic coding using the Explorer pHat library to get you moving.
The beauty of this build is the possibilities it presents. With the easy sensor integration the pHat breakout board provides along with the processing power of the Pi Zero, this little R2-D2 has the potential to get very smart indeed!
This is a great project to get you started with robotics in general, and as well as using the Pi as the brains of the operation!
4. Star Wars Christmas Lights
With the release of The Last Jedi falling so close to Christmas, it is a perfect opportunity to include a large dose of Star Wars in your seasonal decorations.
Maker Chivalry Timbers takes this idea to a whole new level by synchronising the Christmas lights covering their house to the Star Wars main theme.
The hardware of this build consists of a Raspberry Pi along with a cheap relay board to control different sets of Christmas lights. On the software side, Timidity and Alsa allow MIDI files to be used in code as triggers for the lighting. Since the same encoded MIDI used to control the lights plays through the speaker, it syncs up perfectly.
The full build is described in detail on Chivalry Timbers’s blog. The beauty of this project is its scalability. Whether you go for a small indoor build, or cover your entire property with synced musical lights, the core ideas remain the same.
5. Online Force Battle
This build contains so many things we love. Combining the internet of Things (IoT) ethos with simple but functional electronics, all in the name of Star Wars?
It even has Lego in it!
This interactive Lego Jedi battlecam really needs to be seen in action to do it justice. Links on the webpage communicate with multiple Raspberry Pis using PHP, triggering the servo mounted Jedi or Dark side battle scenarios, along with color appropriate lighting and dialogue on the LCD screen. Visitors to the website can choose the general ambient lighting color, as well as pushing a custom message to the LCD screen.
This is just one of the Raspberry Pi based projects documented on maker Richard Anthony Arellano’s website. While there is no tutorial on how this is made, the workflow is similar to many DIY internet enabled devices and home security systems.
6. Telnet Wars
Telnet, network communication client of ancient prestige, is holding an old secret. Before panic sets in about vulnerabilities and network backdoors — it’s not that kind of secret! In fact it is much cooler than that. You can watch Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in Telnet. Yes, that’s right… Telnet.
The mammoth task of turning an entire film into ASCI was taken on by a “wacked Dutch hardware geek” called Sten. Other than the fact that the film comes in at just under 14,000 frames that is all we know about this frankly amazing accomplishment.
In order to enjoy your own lo-fi cinema experience, you’ll need to install Telnet by opening a terminal window and entering:
sudo apt-get install telnet
Once it is installed, start the movie by typing:
Grab your popcorn, sit back, and curse these modern fools with their HD and their sound!
7. Death Pi
One aspect of the Raspberry Pi community that took off stratospherically was the designing, build, and printing of custom cases. It makes sense as the Pi does not come with a case as standard and 3D printing allows the manufacture of both practical cases for small computers and awesome props for Star Wars geeks alike!
Why not combine both of these things by making the ultimate case that is not a moon?
This case is provided by myminifactory user Darren Furniss and is a perfect blend of something that is easy to print on a variety of 3D printers, and also looks great. The case is designed with the Pi 3 in mind, though as with most cases it can be modified to fit almost any small single board computer.
A case for your Pi is the perfect way to get started printing your own designs too. Don’t forget to check out our full beginner’s guide to 3D printing here if you’re looking for some printing advice.
8. Be the Jedi
One popular use for the Pi is as a retro gaming machine. The Raspberry Pi is well suited for old Star Wars video games. Most old systems are well supported and there is even the custom RetroPie operating system dedicated to running games of yesteryear.
There has never been a better time to explore the many great Star Wars games from times gone past!
The above image is taken from Super Star Wars, released originally for the Super Nintendo in 1992. This game is as brutally difficult as most other platform games of the time period, but remains a classic to this day, and was re-released on the PlayStation in 2005.
Naturally, there are many more games from the Star Wars universe playable through RetroPie, though there are also options that do not require emulation at all. We have covered some great games which work natively on the Raspberry Pi, and much loved classic Jedi Outcast is among them!
9. Minewars? Star…craft!
Finally for today, we have a software Star Wars cinema spectacular. Martin O’Hanlon (co-writer of Adventures in Minecraft) has used his extensive knowledge of both the Raspberry Pi and Minecraft Pi Edition to recreate the infamous Death Star run sequence as a Minecraft Animation
Use the Pi Luke!
The Raspberry Pi is such a varied and interesting piece of kit that it is no surprise that it has found its way into almost every aspect of the Star Wars fan universe. While there are loads of options for making your own Jedi equipment at home, there are also a huge amount of things you can do with your Pi.
Whether you are just getting started, or are looking for a new way to experience your music or film collection, the Pi could be exactly the droid you are looking for. Come to think of it, you can even run Android OS on one!
Have you used a Pi to use the force? Are you planning a Raspberry based build to thwart the Dark Side? Are we missing something awesome we really need to know about? Let us know in the comment section below!