The Raspberry Pi is a tinkerer’s dream. If purchased as a package, the 85mm x 56mm unit comes with an SD card that has an operating system loaded onto it. Grab an old keyboard and mouse, slap a monitor on it, and you already have a working computer that I guarantee is more powerful than the one you had when you were growing up. So, what’s so great about that? My PHONE is more powerful than the computer I had five years ago. Five years is a lifetime in tech terms.
Well, the appeal of the Pi is not in its processing power necessarily but in its price point and, more importantly, its flexibility. You can pick one up for around fifty dollars through Amazon, and, at the risk of sounding cliché, your only limit from there is what you can imagine. Pi enthusiasts have developed everything from retro video game consoles to this Xbox controlled VR robot.. The real magic is starting to happen now with the introduction of affordable 3D printing. Raspberry Pi programmers are able to make use of 3D design programs like AutoCAD to create parts and peripherals specific to their own devices rather than repurposing pieces from existing products.
And so, I present to you a collection of some of the more impressive examples of Raspberry Pi CAD Designs:
From Next Thing Co., this is a Pi powered GIF camera that allows users to change configurations via the accompanying smartphone app. This means you can change anything from simple settings like filters and resolution to much more obscure ideas like this project where a user configured OTTO to adjust the color saturation of the image to match the dB level of the drums. The link in the header will take you to their closed Kickstarter campaign, simply because it does a better job of explaining the product’s functionality than their official website.
As I mentioned earlier, throwback systems are an absolute favorite among Pi programmers and although the image above, designed by raspberrypi.org user Wermy uses a modified Gameboy system, many users are finding success with 3D printed designs like this one (available at no cost from adafruit.com). This method is not only easier than tracking down a 25+ year old game system in reasonable condition, it also allows designers to add their own flavor to the project.
Believe me, I had the same first questions; “Why would anybody put this kind of effort into an old Suzuki??” followed by “How is all this mud on the inside??”. That doesn’t make Gregory Holloway’s 3D designed GPS navigation system any less impressive, however. The instructable, available here details his procedure for removing the air bag to make room for this device, so it probably isn’t all that legal to use in most places. Additionally, the scale and expertise necessary for the casing alone (not to mention the actual Pi programming) probably means this would be a project for advanced tinkerers only.
Now here is a project a bit more for the Raspberry Pi/3D Design beginner group. Although, it’s certainly possible to re-use an old security camera housing for your project, many users are turning to 3D modeling in order to design something that is exact to their specifications. The great thing about this idea as well is that it can grow as your understanding of the programming grows. A basic example could record video wirelessly to an external hard drive but with the right tweaks, could be made to pan/tilt/zoom, record only on motion, or record infra-red at night!
Many users are flexing their creative muscles to build an incredible variety of 3D designed cases for their Raspberry Pi, including the delicious-looking example above, created to look like an actual pie. Click here for a gallery of the best custom case designs on display at Thingiverse.
Way way back in the 90’s, we kids had to scrape together the meager wages earned from whatever part time job we had in the evenings, hop a bus from school to the mall and wade through the unwashed masses of people to finally arrive at an HMV, where we would spend hours mulling over whether to take home Will Smith or Limp Bizkit.
No? Was that just me?
The point I’m making is how far along music accessibility has come. For less than ten dollars a month through Google Play, I have access to all the music. Literally. Just all of it. And with that freedom, some Raspberry Pi users have taken things a step further and created their own Raspberry Pi transmitters, making it possible to stream whatever music they like and transmit it only as far as their own proximity.
Once again, Instructable comes to the rescue with a detailed break-down of the process here.
Alright, admittedly this design will only appeal to about three percent of readers here but it will appeal to that three percent a lot. I just had to include the Pip-Boy design from the Fallout series of video games in this list. 3D designer and maker Yvo de Haas explains how he created this Raspberry Pi-powered replica of the iconic piece of arm-wear here. “But Mike,” you might ask, “what benefits would this device bring to me in my daily life?”
Nothing I’m afraid. Some things are just neat.
This last example of great marriages between 3D design and Raspberry Pi technology is, in my opinion, the most impressive and shows the most potential for industry-shaping scalability. Whereas every other example in this list has been of a Pi board inside a 3D printed housing, this article details how to assemble 39 Raspberry Pi cameras to create a complete 360-degree 3D scanner. The scans can then, of course, be sent to a remote 3D printer to be fabricated. This development just has the teleporter feel of science fiction technology to me.
Let’s use the example of someone in need of a prosthetic; imagine the convenience of being able to scan your own body and sending that information to the hospital to have the piece you need fabricated for you. That ability wouldn’t need to remain local either. It could be made portable and transported to less developed countries in order to help people there! That’s just one application for this technology!
That wraps up our list of innovative Raspberry Pi designs.
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