Alex Marshall Alex Marshall is a marketeer, web developer and designer. He also likes retro technology, classic cars and in his spare time enjoys travelling.

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6 Cool things to do with a Raspberry Pi over Christmas

2 min read

So it’s Christmas Eve and your trying to do some last-minute shopping and stuck for ideas for what to get perhaps some of you have certain gifts in mind, an Xbox One or PS4 perhaps? For Developers, budding developers, kids (and myself) a Raspberry Pi is an ideal gift for Christmas.

You might be thinking why a Raspberry Pi? what can I do with one sitting in front of the fire on Christmas day…Join us as we tell you why and what cool things you can do with the Pi.

Firstly…why a Raspberry Pi?

It’s an extremely small credit-card-sized computer that can be plugged into your TV and a standard PC keyboard. It is highly capable and can be used in a variety of projects from easy things for children to more complex things and for those with more advanced skills, it can be made to be like a desktop PC doing spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games. It can also play high-definition videos.

What cool things can I do?

1. Build a DukePad

DukePad-Front-Home-Screen-WAnnounced at JavaOne 2013 and something that stuck in my mind was a takeaway from JavaOne was ‘the DukePad’. Essentially it is a Do-It-Yourself, tablet computer based on the Raspberry PI  using JavaSE Embedded 8. The plans and instructions for building the DukePad are available from the Open JDK Wiki,  and the DukePad uses Raspbian Linux as the operating system, with an OSGi-based JavaFX environment, used or running the apps.

2. Become a publisher – Convert your PDF’s to HTML5

As you can see it converted successfully and created the directory,The Raspberry Pi is a very capable computer and lots of people like to experiment with it to see what it can do. At IDR solutions our developer Lyndon Armitage previously experimented with getting the Raspberry Pi to convert PDF content into the HTML5 format, with a lot of success.

3. Make a Retro games console

Super-Mario-Brothers-Memories-25-Year-AnniversaryFor some of us our youth was spent playing retro games on our Snes, Nes, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum…the list goes on, but did you know the Raspberry Pi is extremely capable of running these retro consoles. The RetroPie Project is a collection of works that turn the Raspberry Pi into a dedicated retro-gaming console. It uses Raspbian as the OS and integrates a large set of emulators for a wide variety of computer systems from the past that let you relive those nostalgic memories.

4. Build a media centre

XBMC_homeSo you have a lot of music, dvd’s and movies, looking to stream content or you have downloaded, you can always turn your Raspberry Pi into a useful media player using XBMC which is a free and open source media player developed by the XBMC Foundation, a non-profit technology consortium. This way you can keep all your content in one place and not have multiple devices set up to handle movie duties and there are lots of add-ons available too – such as Spotify.

5. Build your own drone…

parrot-ar-drone-2-2With all this news about Amazon wanting to build drones for deliveries, maybe we should use drones for our daily lives to get us a cup of coffee from down the local shop. With the Raspberry Pi you can build your own drone or quad-copter too all you need is some time, some materials and this guide! Give it a try.

6. Build your own weather station

weatherstation03Not sure what the weather is going to be like over Christmas?  Want to know? Using some DIY materials from your local electronic stores such as Maplins (a UK-based electronic store) and a Raspberry Pi you can build your own weather machine! A perfect project for a rainy day or to predict when it’ll be a rainy day.

Hopefully, this guide has given you some useful ideas about why a Raspberry Pi makes an ideal Christmas present and what cool things you can do with one, some have been really adventurous and have boldly gone where no Pi has gone before.

If you have some cool ideas of what you can do with a Pi or doing something adventurous with one, let us know.

Merry Christmas to all our Readers…from everyone at the Java PDF blog and IDR Solutions.

If you’re looking for some good projects to do on the Raspberry Pi why not check out some of the articles which I previously wrote?

Top 8 IDE’s for Programmers, Coders and Beginners on the Raspberry Pi
The 8 Cool Raspberry Pi Operating Systems/Projects for Beginners

We also covered some articles on the blog relating to the Raspberry Pi.

Remotely deploy projects to the Raspberry Pi using NetBeans IDE
Other Raspberry Pi articles


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Alex Marshall Alex Marshall is a marketeer, web developer and designer. He also likes retro technology, classic cars and in his spare time enjoys travelling.

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