Raspberry Pi Technology

The Raspberry Pi is four years old, and in those four years over eight million have been sold. From humble beginnings in Eben and Liz Upton’s garage the Pi has travelled a long way, including at the end of last year, to the International Space Station.

So four years on, and eight million boards later, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of my favourite Pi-powered projects we’ve featured here on the blog, and out in the world.

The Frozen Raspberry


Possibly one of the most impressive projects I’ve seen. Built out of 48 individual Raspberry Pi boards by Andrew Robinson, each with a Pi camera module attached, the Frozen Raspberry is a bullet time rig. Made famous by the fight scenes in The Matrix, the bullet time effect might seem almost commonplace today since it’s been used so many times now in movies, however building a rig to duplicate the effect using the Raspberry Pi is an amazing technical achievement.

Raspberry Pirate Radio


This hack turns your Raspberry Pi into a powerful FM transmitter, with nothing more than a length of wire and software. While the Frozen Raspberry is impressive, this is the coolest and most minimal hack I’ve seen.

A Raspberry Pi Tablet


Built by Michael Castor, the PiPad is an all-in-one system built around the Raspberry Pi. It’s usable, portable and Linux based — it also looks pretty cool and doesn’t scare the TSA.

Bulk Arduino Programmer


If you have the need to program tens, hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of Arduino boards, then you’ll be needing a bulk programmer. This one, built by Ben Prit the creator of Mirobot — who we talked to last year at Maker Faire UK — is of course built around a Raspberry Pi.

Building a Bramble


Now expanded to eight nodes, I couldn’t not mention my own favourite Raspberry Pi project, my Raspberry Pi cluster. Originally put together with just four nodes, three Raspberry Pi 2 boards for compute nodes, and an original Model B for the head node. I wanted the cluster — more commonly known as a ‘bramble’ — to be as compact as possible, with just two cables coming out, one for power and the other for network. I made use of a USB hub to power the boards, and a small Ethernet switch which I could hack to also be powered from the USB hub rather than from a separate wall wart.

In closing…

The Pi has been used for education, for making, and has even gone into space. I’ve seen some amazing things built with the Pi, from an ROV, to a robot that collects ping pong balls.

If you’ve just picked up a Pi there are plenty of things you can plug into it and plenty of projects to inspire your next build. Whilst there are other boards, in the four years it has been around the Pi has come to dominate the single-board computer market and, perhaps more importantly, has built a vibrant community that excels in making stone soup with the Pi.


Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

View more articles by Alasdair Allan