The Raspberry Pi debuted on February 29th, 2012. Wow, has it been 10 years already? Makes me feel old.
The original concept of the Pi was to teach British schoolchildren how to program and code. What really made it stand out was the COST which was $35. It also used Linux which meant it was relatively fast and ran on limited resources. The original Pi had some bottlenecks, especially around USB and Ethernet but it did all work and at a $35 price tag it was ripe for hacking and that’s just what the geeks did.
My first Pi was a breeze to set up and my first project was something called Logitechmediaserver (LMS) and Squeezelite which was a streaming media server and client for Pandora, Spotify, and a now defunct music platform called MOG. A comparable platform these days is something called Sonos. I challenge you build a Sonos System for as cheap as you can build an LMS server.
If you plugged in a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) to the USB of the pi you could stream to any stereo aux input. To this day I have several Pi LMS clients in my house. Our current house has built in speakers all over the house and we can stream anything we want to them. Right now I just use Spotify and TuneIn. They have since added Tidal to their lineup as well.
Even if I never used a Pi for anything other than this, I’d have gotten my monies worth. The fact is that I have done so much with the Pi Platform. Currently in my home I do the following with Raspberry Pi:
- Home Automation with Home Assistant – The entirety of my automation runs on a single Raspberry Pi
- Police Scanner – I have a Software Defined Radio plugged into a Pi and mounted on the back of a TV. It pulls in the local and state services and gives a visual representation of the scanner calls.
- GOES weather satellite tracking – When the weather gets tough………..I download images from the NOAA GOES weather satellites.
- Network Attached Storage – I have servers all over the place but I have a Pi with a 2TB SATA drive specifically for my CNC files.
- Router – I have a Pi Compute Module 4 with a router carrier board that branches off of network that supplies a guest network.
- Media Server – As mentioned above. I have several stereos with Pi’s attached to them. I have also built in Pi’s integrated into tube headphone amplifiers.
- Temp and Humidity monitoring – Not currently doing it here but I once used a Pi for monitoring my hot tub temps with a DS108 waterproof temp probe.
- Pi with 433 MHz receiver and transmitter – Lots of wireless devices use 433 MHz. You can snatch those signals out of the air and push them to automation software to display such things as temp, humidity, wind speed, etc. Also once I saw a Simply Safe system of my neighbors transmitting its PIN number and switch states IN THE CLEAR. Simply Safe my ass.
- Reprogramming ESP8266 chips – Some WiFi Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be flashed via Pi.
- Learned Linux – This may be the best part of the whole Pi Evolution. I dabbled with Linux before 2012 but my skills got sharper when the Pi came along. I’m not a coder but I can futz through some stuff.
Anyway, I can probably list 10 more things. Maybe 20, but those are the big ones. Raspberry Pi has sold over 45 million units and sparked plenty of developers to make all kinds of devices and kits for the Pi’s. The things you can do with them are almost unlimited.
And they are still relatively cheap, that is if you can find them. The global semiconductor shortage has made many Pi’s unobtanium. That’s a sad state of affairs. The good news for me is I have several Pi 4’s around here that I’m able to mess with every time I see something cool come down the pike.
It’s not too late to jump on the Pi bandwagon if you haven’t already. It’s been really gratifying to me and has definitely improved the quality of life around here. Most of all its FUN and has made me a tad bit smarter and best of all it keeps me out of trouble.
So……..Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi. Here’s to 10 more!