Nominations for the Christmas give-away entry number 4!

We love to hear about your projects! But which is the most ambitious, exciting, or downright crazy?!

  • 6
    While drunk, one of my friends tried to power his RPi with a car battery and it burst into flame... Does that count? :P
    – Jacobm001
    Dec 16, 2015 at 17:50
  • 5
    @Jacobm001 not exactly drunk driving but don't drink and Pi Dec 18, 2015 at 1:43
  • @Jacobm001 That is arguably the funniest thing I've ever pictured in my mind. What model Pi was it? Please don't say that it was a Zero. Dec 22, 2015 at 6:30
  • @PatrickCook: No, this was long before the Pi Zero... I'm not entirely sure, but it was a model B; probably a revision 2, but it may have been an revision 1. I think my favorite part about the whole thing was another friend saying "Well, I guess it failed the smoke test." after it was all said and done.
    – Jacobm001
    Dec 22, 2015 at 16:43

5 Answers 5


Nano, an intelligent assistant for Raspberry Pi.

The project was formerly named Echo, but it was brought to my attention that Amazon Echo had the same name.

Nano is an intelligent assistant for the Raspberry Pi, similar to Jasper or Siri, but fully customizable. It uses pocketsphinx and sphinxbase for speech recognition, but it's brain is built in Python. Nano can tell you the time, the current weather in your area, the temperature of the CPU, play you a song, search WolramAlpha, set an alarm, and much much more.

Nano has been in development by myself since July 2015. The next step of my project is to put it in a Raspberry Pi Zero, and make it mobile. The plan is to have it in my bag, with a microphone clipped to the inside of my shirt, and the command line accessible via bluetooth, even though Nano requires no command line interaction.

As Nano is completely customizable and vary versatile, I have given a few of my friends each a copy to see what they would use it for, here are my favorite uses:

1. Whole Home Music Player

In late August, I emailed a copy to one of my pals from Calculus, and a few weeks later he invited me over to see what he had done. In his house he had a wireless microphone in every major room, living room, kitchen, and his bedroom. Adjacent those microphones were speakers. He had uploaded his 28Gb of music to his Pi, and taught Nano the names for every song, every artist, and every album. All he had to do was say the magic words, and Nano would play whatever he wanted him to play.

2. Home Automation

In mid September, I gave another copy to another friend who had just bought his first Raspberry Pi. Within a few weeks I found out that he had wired relays all over his home, as well as microphones. He could turn on and off every light and every electronic device just by telling Nano what room and what appliance. Sorry if this description isn't very good, I'm more of a software guy, so understanding exactly what he did is a little beyond me.

Over the next coming months I plan to keep improving and adding on to Nano, but sadly in August of 2016 all of my time will most likely be destroyed by the giant time consuming black hole known as college.


An early test of Nano, formerly named Echo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDIiyUAXkFY


Testing for compatibility with LCD screen. Testing for compatibility with LCD screen

Another LCD test. Another LCD Test

Nano for the Raspberry Pi Zero

  • 1
    I don't want to sound alarmist but I would check with a lawyer first, A mobile device with concealed microphone can run afoul of wiretapping laws. There is a reason they tell you your call may be recorded. Not likely, but possible. Dec 19, 2015 at 9:49
  • 1
    Wow this looks awesome. Do you plan to make it publicly available?
    – Jivings
    Dec 19, 2015 at 14:03
  • 1
    @SteveRobillard Already checked with my school, they said as long as I can prove that it can't pick up anybody standing less than two feet from me then I'm fine. I have a really short range mic I'm planning on using. Dec 19, 2015 at 14:38
  • @Jivings I've been asked that a few times now, my biggest problem is that all Nano is, is a huge and convoluted cleverly written Python script. That's why it's so customizable and so easily customizable. My plan is to release my full customized version as well as a stripped down version that just contains the necessary lines for Nano to work. This will give people a jumping off point and I place to look for good ideas. I am in the process of writing an auto-install script that installs all of the necessary packages and pulls the project from github. Dec 19, 2015 at 14:49
  • @Jivings So in short, yes, but I don't know how soon. Dec 19, 2015 at 14:50
  • I imagined doing Voice Recognition in my project (other answer) but I wasn't aware that the software was there (yet) - as a Debian user on my PCs I was confused that the sphinx packages on "Wheezy" was for something else entirely - though I eventually saw it was in "Sid" and "Jessie" - glad to see I was wrong... Does it work better on a Pi 2 with more processing power? If I used nano (isn't that a Unix text editor BTW) I think I'd call the unit HAL... 8-) Well done, anyway!
    – SlySven
    Dec 19, 2015 at 16:43
  • @SlySven you could rename him to whatever you wanted, you can even change his voice/accent, that's how customizable it is. Dec 19, 2015 at 16:46
  • 1
    "Open the Pod bay doors please, Hal" ... "I am sorry Dave I'm afraid I can't do that..." from 2001: A Space Odessey
    – SlySven
    Dec 19, 2015 at 16:51
  • Is the Speak Recognition good enough to differentiate between different speakers or conversely understand more than one speaker?
    – SlySven
    Dec 19, 2015 at 16:54
  • 1
    It can't tell who's talking, but it can understand almost all accents and multiple speakers at once. Just in case you have someone that always finishes your sentences (: Dec 19, 2015 at 16:56
  • I guess it wouldn't be wise to use it for security based on voice matching (I'll have a front door that my Pi can unlock) - distinguishing between a real voice and a recording is a much harder task than between an authorised and an unauthorised user I guess.
    – SlySven
    Dec 19, 2015 at 16:59
  • @SlySven you could have a secret passcode, as long as someone doesn't ever hear you say it lol, yah it would be a terrible idea. Dec 19, 2015 at 20:03
  • 1
    As I asked before, is this with a quad-core Pi2?
    – SlySven
    Dec 19, 2015 at 20:32
  • 1
    @SkySven Oops sorry, must've missed it. Yes, it is running on an overclocked Pi 2. Dec 19, 2015 at 21:53
  • @SlySven After two weeks' testing on a Pi Zero, I can't now say that while the Pi 2 is faster, it is only so by maybe 1-3 seconds per recognition. Jan 15, 2016 at 2:28

I feel like my project is a little pedestrian, but since no one else has posted, I'll break the ice.


I've recently (as in the last month or so) started a project to more easily display recipes in the kitchen while cooking, and share with family/friends.


  • Raspberry Pi 2, but any of the models with a screen interface should work.
  • Raspberry Pi touch screen
  • Wifi Dongle

Front End:

The system is built as a responsively designed web application with an oath2 login. Currently it's using HTML5, jQuery, and Bootstrap 3. The primary use will be for the RPi screen and phones, but I want to make sure that the interface is also useable on the desktop.

In the RPi's case, the RPi should boot directly into a web browser in Kiosk mode.

Back End:

Currently the only supported database is PDO sqlite, but I would like to later add support for PostgreSQL and maybe MySQL (I hate MySQL, so, unlikely). The backend API is written in PHP5.

Current Project Status:

The project is in the pretty early phases. I've worked out most of the database storage, and have implemented roughly 200 of my families recipes. Currently, they display well but a lot of work is still needed with the login system, physical RPi implementation, and interface tweaks.


I'm in the initial stages of my Home Automation project which will include:

  • Keyless front-door entry I have a small USB RFID tag reader (and a 5m active USB extender, because there is a limit to how long a plain USB lead can be) which is to go on the inside side of the door behind the glass. I'm getting got the triple-glazing finished in the New Year and the new door will have has a [Winkhaus AV2E "Bluematic"](http://www.winkhaus.co.uk/products-solutions,5288/in%20doors,5340/multi-point-locks,5370/electronic,5372/eav,5374/) lock. It comes with a 12V 2A PSU module but I'll provide the control gear - which is where the Pi comes in.
  • Override control for 3 domestic mains powered lighting circuits I've installed six outside bulkhead lamps, three in the garden and three on the exterior of the property and whilst I have provided 2-way switching (on outside) for the set of garden lights (and one inside luminare) the other set do not currently have a dedicated light switch and are currently operating via a piggy-back link to the garden lights. Because two of the lighting circuits will be wired in parallel to "normal" switches it is desirable that the Mains Relay circuits to control them also have feedback to the controlling Pi to sense if the lights are already switched on manually - so some opto-isolator feedback on the switched outputs from each Relay is desirable, otherwise I'd be tempted to use some properly designed [SF Innovations](http://www.sf-innovations.co.uk/mains-switch-relay.html) relay units, note the spacing/clearance/fusing/cable-restraints between the "Mains" bit and the "Control-circuitry" - the lack of that is what makes many "RPi Relay Units" NOT SAFE for use in Mains Power applications.
  • Fire/security alarm Having a set of [Aico](http://www.aico.co.uk/Accessories-RadioLINK.html) Fire/Heat/CO alarms with Wired/Wireless interlinks it seems a good idea to interface with those via a wireless Ei413 interface. As for security the design for that is up in the air at the moment, but I am thinking of a shared wired bus system but I will probably keep the precise details to myself (for security)!
  • UPS for some of the above I have a UPiS Basic module from [Pimodules](http://pimodules.com/) to keep the Pi running when the credit runs out on the Prepayment Electricity Meter (it is nice not to have to worry about electricity bills as I pay as I go) eventually I think the 5V input UPS module will be run from a Switch-Mode-Power_Supply module that will vampire its power requirement from the Lead-Acid backed 12V UPS that I will need to put together for the door-lock. The current software package for the Pi UPS does not completely fit the bill (which is why I have been asking questions in that arena).
  • Some sort of display for the above I've got a 16x2 LCD module to which I've added an I2C backpack - it is currently cycling through a display of the UPis status values, local-time and Unix Epoch time (hopefully it will still be working after we get to when Y2K037 will be an issue!) - one nice feature of the backpack is that I can have it can turn the Backlight off when running on batteries - though that will need more work when the UPS is running from another UPS...

I have had other related ideas but this is the current design brief to be going on with.

Note: Some parts of the above require work (in the UK) to be certified to Part P of the UK Building Regulations do not try this at your home unless you know what needs to be done and the right people to do it.

Update: Had the fitters back to tweak a couple of things - one of which was a door chain that was missing (so you can open the door a little to talk to someone without releasing the door completely).

The only trouble was the muppet who drove all four of the fixing screws into the body of the door-lock motor assembly, destroying it (one actually went into the armature, the "spinney-thing" in the centre, of the little electric motor that worked the unit). He wasn't aware of the extra thing inside the body of the door even though I'd previously, proudly, pointed out the "electronic-ness" of my purchase!

Of course the unit also completely jammed, leave the door with its locks also jammed in the open position and thus totally insecure. Fortunately we were able to release the wreckage from the rest of the lock mechanism, leaving it mechanically operable, and I am now awaiting their return with a new unit that they will have to pay for... grrr

  • 1
    I've broken the link limit - sorry about that.
    – SlySven
    Dec 18, 2015 at 2:05
  • The keyless front door entry using an RFID tag reader/writer sounds absolutely awesome, I think I might try my hand at that! Dec 22, 2015 at 6:31

I would like to nominate the following project, coming from this post by user LeoFib.

LeoFib is planning to use his Raspberry Pi as a text-to-speech translator and large-display monitor for a 90yr old lady who is rapidly losing eyesight, so she can use the internet and listen/watch audiobooks and movies.

I think this project is a great candidate for this category, as it is not only a great and not common usage of a Raspberry Pi, but it also scores many points in the "altruistic" category (which I just totally made up), and fits right in with the Christmas spirit.

I'm quoting LeoFib's question to give more details on this project:

I plan to do a project for a ninety-year old mother who is rapidly losing her eyesight and leads a relatively cheerless life.

She sits alone at home watching basic cable and doesn't have an internet connection. She has a huge remote control with 60 tiny buttons and is basically confused by the whole thing.

I just want to put on a hard disk a library of films and/or audiobooks so that she can navigate through them and watch at her leisure.

I've decided she needs a simple joystick with 6 large configurable buttons. I would need to find out some way that titles might be automatically read to her (as she scrolls down prior to selection).

A GUI providing HUGE text on the monitor might suffice...but I believe the text-to-speech feature might be the most difficult problem.

If the titles are read to her, a GUI is almost a moot point.

  • 1
    I've thrown in a small bounty for the first week of Christmas 2015 to help get those creative juices flowing...!
    – SlySven
    Dec 25, 2015 at 19:07

I am working on a Python script for my Pi (or any other device) that analysis a wav file to create Morse code. The Morse code is then decoded to text. Then the text is sent to the serial port, that is being read by an Arduino that then sends the data threw the SPI port to displays it on a 2x16 LCD.

and yes I know the Pi has the GPIO SPI pins but I already had the code and just plugging in the USB to the Pi was way quicker than writing it.

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