The Raspberry Pi has been a phenomenal success within computing, it was originally developed to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries. However, due to its low costs, small size and complete single board design it has been far more popular than originally intended with huge sales outside its target market.
It has been adopted widely in many markets; consumers love it as a low-cost way to set up a server or media player, whereas industrial markets frequently use it for robotics, automation, and prototyping.
By November 2016 they had sold 11 million units, and 12.5m by March 2017, making it the third best-selling general-purpose computer sitting behind the PC and Mac but now outselling the legendary Commodore 64.
Recently the RPi foundation updated the RPi3 with the Model B+ which improves the processor, graphics and networking options.
So, what are some of the top uses for the Raspberry Pi? Here are our top picks:
1. Desktop PC
With it being single board computer, with processor, GPU and RAM, the RPi3 can work just like any other desktop PC. You will need some storage via the MicroSD and ideally you will use a Linux distribution on it. You are not going to play the latest games on it, but it will work perfectly fine for general office use. With it costing less than £30 and using less than 10W in electricity this is an extremely affordable way to have a desktop PC.
2. Media Player
This is possibly the most popular consumer application, you can install Kodi or Plex on the device and it will happily play your local media content.
3. Retro Gaming Machine
RetroPi is another popular consumer application; the RPI3 has enough processing power to handle games from the SNES, Megadrive, PS1 and many more.
4. Web Server
If you want to experiment with your own web server, possible to learn about servers, or for programming, the RPI3 makes a great budget choice. You can run it 24/7 and it will cost just a few pounds per year to run, so you run various server applications that require the device to be on all the time.
5. Home Automation System / industrial automation
Combing the RPI with a web server, or other software, then one of the many sensors that are available to integrate with it, you can run complex automation systems using the raspberry pi. You can have sensors that will check for water leaks or gas leaks which then warn you of problems. Temperature monitors can be used to control heaters, HVAC systems, and air conditioning. Using a DIN rail mounting enclosure you can integrate the RPi discretely with other electronics in the home or business locations.
A lot of companies will use an RPi to develop prototypes for new products; this allows them to buy an off the shelf product at a low cost to develop their own product.
Hitaltech is specialist manufacturers of a large range of plastic enclosures including din rail mounted enclosures and flexible interconnect solutions such as FFC Cable for a wide range of electronics including embedded platforms.