10 Awesome Raspberry Pi Zero Project Ideas
1. Make a wearable badge
By combining the Raspberry Pi Zero with an add-on board, you can create a wearable badge. Take the Zero, add a Unicorn pHAT, Scroll pHAT or even a full-sized Unicorn HAT and scroll messages, create animations and attract the envy of your fellow geeks! You’ll need a 5V 1A USB battery pack to make it portable - you can pick one up at pound shops or even find one on eBay!
2. Create a wheeled robot
Take a Raspberry Pi Zero and add movement with the CamJam EduKit 3. Everything you need is there - motors, wheels, a custom motor controller board and other fixings. Alternatively, take a look at our other Zero-sized motor controller boards - the MotoZero and the Picon Zero - they’re ideal if you’ve already got some robotics kit.
3. Create a security camera
Use the Zero in conjunction with the camera module (both standard and night-vision NoIR versions are available), together with the ZeroView mounting system and Zero-compatible camera cable and attach the whole shebang to your window.
4. Create a media centre
The Pi Zero may be small but it can pack a punch when combined with a media centre operating system. Get hold of a Kodi SD card to base your system on, then add a Zero Essentials Kit to get an HDMI and USB adapter. Add a wifi dongle for connectivity and connect the Zero to your television using an HDMI cable. A little set-up and you’ll be able to access all kinds of interesting channels such as NASA TV! You’ll likely want a nice case, too, just to complete the picture!
5. Make a time-lapse GIF
Take your Zero and camera module, add a ZeroView, stick it to a window and follow this handy tutorial to take photographs and join them together to create a time-lapse animated GIF.
6. Read analog sensors
For this, you’ll need to combine your Zero with either the Analog Zero, Explorer pHAT or the full-sized Explorer HAT Pro. Then, plug in your analog sensors (which you can get from our sister site, Makersify) and use programming libraries, such as GPIO Zero or the Pimoroni offerings, to take readings. Alternatively, take a look at the RasPiO Duino for even more functionality and analog input channels.
7. Make a thermometer
Combine the Raspberry Pi Zero with CamJam EduKit 2: there’s a temperature probe included in the kit that can be hooked up to the Zero. A bit of programming later and voila - you've created a thermometer! You can also use the rest of the components to determine whether it’s light or dark and whether movement is detected - extend your system and create a night-time only burglar alarm!
8. Create a Jukebox
Simply add on the DAC pHAT from Pimoroni to give your Pi high-quality audio output. Add one of our speakers and “get down to that funky beat” or listen to classical music, whichever way you roll! If you’ve got phono speakers, add on this little whatsit to provide phono outputs!
9. Conduct scientific experiments
With the Zero, you can go to space… and maybe even beyond. You can use full-sized HATs with the Zero, so why not go the whole hog and add the SenseHAT with it’s multiple sensors and built-in joystick. The SenseHAT recently went to space with British astronaut Tim Peake as Astro Pi. You can find lots of resources around the SenseHAT over at raspberrypi.org including this amazing one that shows you how to conduct scientific experiments.
10. Learn how to solder
The Raspberry Pi Zero comes without a GPIO header and so there’s never been a better time to learn how to solder! The Zero makes an excellent first project if you want to learn and The Pi Hut has all the equipment you need to get started. There are plenty of soldering tutorials out there - we like this one with the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s very own Carrie Anne Philbin. Remember: heat the components then apply the solder!