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12/25/2015
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Best Raspberry Pi, Arduino DIY Projects For Your Holiday Downtime

Looking for an escape from egg nog this holiday season? Here are 10 tech projects based on either Raspberry Pi or Arduino to keep you busy, happy, and geeky through the New Year.
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(Image: KlausHausmann via Pixabay)

(Image: KlausHausmann via Pixabay)

The kids are home from school, the winter winds are howling outside (OK, this year, if you're in the Eastern US, the air-conditioning is humming inside), and boredom is threatening the peace and good will of the season. What, oh what, to do?

If you're like me, what you really want is a nice project. Not one of those projects that's been cluttering up your guilt-list for the last six months, but a nice, fresh, electronics project that lets you learn a little, practice a little, and end up with something that punches your geek card for another few months.

If you have kids (or friends' kids, or grandkids) who need something to do and could use a dose of engineering, so much the better. Now, you can have fun, pass the electronic torch to a new generation, and end up making some great holiday memories, all at the same time.

[ Those were the days, my friends. Read 11 Things Computer Users Will Never Experience Again.]

To help get your ideas flowing, I went out and looked on the Web for some fun projects that could take up an afternoon (or a weekend) and offer a ton of fun. These projects come from a number of different places. (I make sure to give you links to the originating project.) They make use of a variety of skills and can help you improve your hardware building, your code development, or both. Even better, each one makes something happen, whether it's as simple as blinky lights or as complex as 3D fabrication.

I've split the list between Arduino-based projects and those that use Raspberry Pi as their foundation. I know that there are other systems out there, from BeagleBone to PicAXE, that can be used for simple projects, and I promise that I'll do an article on them in the near future. For now, though, I'm going to concentrate on two very popular platforms for building cool things.

Since it's the season for giving, I'm going to ask you for something, too: Are there cool projects that you've built this year? Any that you're planning to build yourself, or with a young person, during the end-of-year holidays? How about projects that you'd like to see me talk about here at InformationWeek? I'd love to hear from you -- maybe we can start a project-based conversation that extends beyond the holidays into the new year.

So here's to happy project-building. Ping me in the comments section below and I'll tell you about the project I remember most: It's the one that taught my son to solder.

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Curtis Franklin Jr. is executive editor for technical content at InformationWeek. In this role he oversees product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he acts as executive producer for InformationWeek Radio and Interop Radio where he works with ... View Full Bio

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PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2016 | 3:51:24 PM
Re: DIY for Higher Functionality
@ li Tan.  I have an old PC and I have added Genesis and super nintendo emulators. I love it.  I bought a retro, supernintendo game controller.  It feels like i'm back in the 90s. 
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2016 | 4:23:14 PM
Re: DIY for Higher Functionality
@Li Tan, in my books any old technology do still have value....
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2016 | 1:54:36 AM
Re: DIY for Higher Functionality
This is a very good post. Not only old desktop, but also old laptop can be of some use - for example, why not use it to be an emulator for old Sega game box?
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 7:15:16 PM
Camera Pi
I really like the camera Pi projects. We have other activies planned so we won't be building during this break. Maybe next year. 
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2015 | 5:57:53 PM
Re: DIY for Higher Functionality
the most interesting project was the DIY computer. Who doesn't have an old computer lying around that needs to be put into some good use.  I was thinking since it is Chritsmas a lighting for a nativity scene wouldn't be so bad as well. 
leggleston140
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leggleston140,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/28/2015 | 2:20:35 PM
How about projects that you'd like to see me talk about here at InformationWeek?
How about an inexpensive 120 VAC or 220VAC motor controller, ala VFD. All that is needed is adjustable speed.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2015 | 7:17:03 PM
DIY for Higher Functionality
The DIY Augmented Reality Laser Cutter is great for businesses that would like to brand and customize their products.

I have been thinking to utilize the Arduino to create a MPPT solar charge controller. As the market develops new sensors and charging algorithms, the Arduino would enable upgradability to existing hardware. And, if the sensors already exist but, its price is too high for its functionality for instance, digital specific gravity sensors have a higher price than an Arduino at the moment then, the user could wait for economics to push the price down of the sensors before including it into their environment.
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