I had a very enjoyable day last week working with other local volunteers and the good folks from DaneNet for this year’s IT Day of Service event here in Madison, WI! Thanks Matt! Our project this year: find creative ways to help local non-profits through the “Internet of Things”, with the things in this case being tiny little Raspberry Pi single board computers.
You might be wondering how something like a $35 credit card sized single board computer could be used to help to a non-profit organization. Well it turns out there are actually many interesting applications and I was amazed at what we could accomplish in just a short few hours of hacking through various solutions. One application we discovered was setting up a Raspberry Pi device connected to WIFI and a refurbished LCD computer monitor to create a very cost effective and easy to use welcome display. Simply tape the device to the back of the monitor and voila, you’ve got digital signage at a fraction of the price of a commercial system. You’ve probably seen this in office settings displaying a welcome message, employee news, or announcing visiting dignitaries.
Another interesting application we found was using a Raspberry Pi connected to one or many digital temperature sensors. This turned out to be very useful for the folks at DaneNet, who wanted to be able to monitor the temperature of their client’s server rooms and server equipment remotely. A combination of some open source PHP code, a Maxim digital temperature sensor, and a handful of discrete components yielded a highly cost effective remote data center monitor accessible over the Internet.
If you have not had the opportunity to try out a Raspberry Pi, here is another idea to add to your “Things I’d like to learn in 2015” list, especially as an educational project with children. We had a number of kids at our IT Day of Service event and they all had a lot of fun.
Note: “Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation”