Share a Little Slice of Christmas Pi

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Written by Nathan Phelps

December 19, 2017

Share a Little Slice of Christmas Pi

Give the gift of Pi for Christmas!

If you’re reading this, you either need to buy one more last minute Christmas gift, or you missed out on Christmas. (Or maybe you are reading this in May and need an idea for what to get your brother for his birthday in June, Hannah). If you’re looking for an inexpensive awesome gift to give your favorite geek for Christmas, a Raspberry Pi Zero is probably perfect. The cheapest Zero costs $5 (an easy stocking stuffer), but you should go ahead and add the extra $5 for the Zero W for the wireless capabilities (Don’t be that cheap). And to be honest, you should probably supply the rest of the necessary accessories: a case, a power supply, etc. Those come in kits as well as individually.

Raspberry Pis have almost infinite possibilities, because essentially they’re tiny computers. Pis are readily configurable with tons of expandable modules for bazillions of projects and chances are that you know someone who either wants one or wants another one. Don’t just take my word for it, I’ve compiled a list of a few awesome things that you can do with a tiny little Raspberry Pi Zero (W, get them the Zero W).

RetroPie:

Here’s the Classic that pretty much anyone who has heard of a Raspberry Pi knows about. RetroPie lets you turn your Raspberry Pi into an old school game box. Your nerdy little niece can load a rom of almost any classic old-school game on RetroPie, all the up through N64 (Possibly even Dreamcast? Those get pretty iffy, though). So maybe she doesn’t know much about those classic games, but she’ll immediately love blasting Asteroids or ground-slamming Kremlings in Donkey Kong Country.

It doesn’t just stop at having a machine full of old games. There are loads of different RetroPie projects that people have created to make their retro gaming feel truly nostalgic.

Here’s a link to getting it set up on the Pi Zero.

DIY Alexa:

Everyone is gobbling up Echo Dots for Christmas this year. Those handy little lady friends plopped around the house are so convenient for impulse buying and seemingly friendly. Your tech-hipster brother-in-law may want to be a little different and build his own Amazon portal, so here’s how someone else made one of their own using a Razzy Pi Z.

Motion Camera:

For me, as someone who likes to keep his stuff in his apartment and the neighbors completely in the dark about what I own, I am very drawn to the idea of a security camera, and the RPZ is the perfect little computer to run one. Your paranoid cousin just might love locking down his dungeon with a security system he built himself.

Here’s a pretty simple set up.

This reddit post shows the pictures from one redditor’s personal project where he set up his Pi to a camera and then made an Android app to control and view it remotely. He posted the link to his code on Github.

Pi Hole:

Your tech-savvy uncle will learn to love his Pi Hole! Pi Hole is “a black hole for internet advertisements.” It stops ads from getting through your network to your devices, so they never download. You never see them, and they don’t slow down your network because they aren’t downloading. Adafruit can show you how to get it setup on your Zero.

R2-D2:

This one’s pricey and intended for a bigger Raspberry Pi, but it’s impossible to not make note of. Some employees over Adafruit made themselves a functional R2-D2. Capable of being controlled over WiFi from a browser and talking back, this 15” droid roams around the office/home projecting video on the wall and antagonizing pets. The robot itself costs a pretty penny, but who doesn’t want a living Artoo?

That R2 unit requires a lot of power and money, so if you only have a Zero and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on all of the other parts, you could settle for the smaller version of your favorite R2 droid.

Christmas Tree:

Since it’s the Christmas season, I’ll wrap up with this last project. Your favorite nephew might just enjoy making a simple little techno-decoration for next year, so here’s a little light-up tree to make the season bright while showing off his smarts and spirit. This light up Christmas tree would make for a perfect deskoration for a jolly holiday at home or at work.

I hope this helped inspire you to either buy someone the gift that keeps on giving you something to do or give you an idea on what to do with the Raspberry Pi you have now. Don’t stop here, though. There are thousands of different projects out there for your Pi that range from useful to novel to “Why did I do that?”. The Raspberry Pi is an awesome little gadget, and every nerd deserves one!