10 Fun Projects for the Raspberry Pi Zero W

Circuit board
Photo: Raspberry Pi

In celebration of its fifth anniversary of building low-cost, powerful, and diminutive single board computers, the Raspberry Pi Foundation decided to take the party wireless.

Earlier this year the nonprofit released the Raspberry Pi Zero W with on-board 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. Also standard is a 1GHz, single-core CPU, 512MB RAM, a Mini-HDMI port, and connections for features like micro-USB power, composite video, and a camera. Total cost? A ridiculously cheap $10.

While this new Pi can handle the same kinds of clever projects as the original, we thought it would be fun to see what the addition of the baked-in wireless is allowing hackers to piece together. On the following pages you'll find just a few of the innovative projects — from toys to security cameras — that the new Pi Zero W can easily tackle.

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Build a Raspberry Pi Zero AirPlay Speaker

Photo: Frederick Vandenbosch/Hackster.io

While this project originally calls for using a Raspberry Pi Zero with a WiFi dongle attachment, the Zero W effectively eliminates the need for this accessory. Coupled with a cheap 5V portable battery, you can easily build yourself a cool, wireless AirPlay speaker for streaming music from your Apple device.

Check out the full step-by-step over at Hackster.

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Build a Raspberry Pi Zero W desk clock

Photo: Nick Sayer/Hackaday.io

Thanks to the Pi Zero W's wireless capabilities, you can now build yourself a desktop clock that's accurate to within a few milliseconds. Once you have all the components (with a display that looks straight out of a Hollywood thriller), you can hook up the clock via WiFi to the Network Time Protocol (NTP) and sleep well knowing you're in sync with the rest of the world.

Check out the step-by-step instructions on Hackaday.

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Build your own Raspberry Pi-powered R2-D2

Photo: Les Pounder/YouTube/Screenshot

For those who have always wanted to hack a toy R2-D2 into something a bit more realistic, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is here to oblige. Les Pounder over at TechRadar has posted a tutorial for adding some wheels and attitude to the beloved droid from the "Star Wars" universe.

Check out the step-by-step instructions here.

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A Pi Zero W security camera

Photo: Matt/raspberrypi-spy.co.uk/

One of the big obvious benefits to having a Raspberry Pi Zero W is its ability to stay connected to the online world in places without an ethernet connection. For security camera applications, this new addition is extremely beneficial.

Over at Raspberry Pi Spy, detailed instructions have been posted to building your own Pi Zero W security camera. Even better, there already exists both an easy way to mount your camera and a dedicated operating system called motionEyeOS to tie it all together.

Check out the full step-by-step here.

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A Raspberry Pi Zero W Amplified Voice Changer

Photo: Matt/raspberrypi-spy.co.uk/

Another brilliant hack from Raspberry Pi Spy is this project for building an amplified voice changer. As the author discovered, this is a great way to modulate one's voice for cosplay moments as a villain or humanoid character. As you'll see in the instructions, taking advantage of the Pi Zero W's WiFi will save you a bunch of time in setting up the code for the voice changer.

Check out the full step-by-step here.

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A Pi Zero W time-lapse camera

Photo: Jeff Geerling

Interested in a low-cost hack to build your own time-lapse camera? Jeff Geerling has thrown together a great tutorial for doing just that, combining a Pi Zero W with a simple $30 camera to create a 4K time-lapse device. Because the device is low-cost and wireless, you can even get away with placing it in outdoor settings, a step you wouldn't dare take with more valuable equipment.

You can check out the full step-by-step here.

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Take to the skies with your Raspberry Pi Drone

Photo: Pi0drone/Hackster.io

While a bit more pricey than the other projects on this list, you can't put a dollar figure on the satisfaction that comes with building your own smart drone. In detailed instructions over a Hackster, you'll learn how to piece together and program a WiFi-controlled "pi0drone." Even better, the project merges your creation with Dronecode, an open-sourced software platform that enables your drone to perform stable flights with advanced functionality.

Check out the full step-by-step here.

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Build your own mini retro Pi Zero W Macintosh

Photo: Jannis Hermanns/Flickr/Creative Commons

When Jannis Hermanns began feeling nostalgic for the original Macintosh he used as a kid, he decided to build a small memento in homage to its classic design. What he lays out in detailed instructions is a true labor of love and includes a custom order of Lego blocks for the case and a wirelessly updated e-paper screen for the display.

You can follow along and build your own miniature classic Apple Macintosh here.

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Throw together a tiny robot army

Photo: PiBorg/Hackster.io

As this tutorial proves, it's easy to throw together a fully functioning rover bot with just a few parts and a 9V battery. Throw in a Playstation 3 controller (which connects easily using the Pi Zero W's Bluetooth capabilities) and you'll be cruising around the office in no time.

Check out the full step-by-step here.

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Turn your Raspberry Pi Zero W into an AI assistant

Photo: MagPi Magazine

In May 2017, Google released a free, open source DIY kit called "AIY Projects" that leverages the power of the Raspberry Pi to create your own A.I. assistant. The kit contains hardware for audio capture and playback, as well as an interface to connect low-voltage components like a micro-servo motor and sensors.

The kit is being bundled in this month's issue of MagPi Magazine available at bookstores nationwide. More projects focused around artificial intelligence from the search giant are planned for release in the coming months.