Environmentally-friendly Raspberry Pi projects

We take a look at three DIY Raspberry Pi projects that will benefit your local environment

10 killer raspberry pi projects 9
AirPi

The UK’s best-selling computer of all time, the Raspberry Pi, started life at the Raspberry Pi foundation, a charity founded with the aim of teaching computer science in schools.

By allowing anyone in any location to build a fully functioning computer system for an affordable price, the Raspberry Pi has continued to promote the philanthropic intentions first set out by the foundation, providing support and funding to young people and those living in less economically developed countries to learn more about coding and computer science.

However, not only is the Raspberry Pi line good for your conscience, they’re also pretty good for the environment too. The device runs off a very low-voltage micro USB power supply, making it incredibly energy efficient and, providing you take decent care of your Raspberry Pi, the hardware usually has a long life span. This means there is no reason for your Pi to end up in a landfill within a few years or so of purchasing it, unlike a lot of hardware.

The small size of a Raspberry Pi coupled with its compute power makes it the perfect foundation for a whole host of DIY projects. Here, we take a look at three environmentally friendly projects you can try at home.

AirPi

In 2013, two sixth form students at Westminster School in London entered the PA Consulting Raspberry Pi competition. The category was ‘make the world a better place’ so the students decided to build an open-source weather and pollution monitoring system called AirPi.

For the low cost of £55, the AirPi is capable of recording and uploading information about temperature, humidity, air pressure, light levels, UV levels, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and smoke level to the internet.

Once you’ve got the basics sorted – a Raspberry Pi computer, a power supply, the electronic components and an internet connection – you can pick and choose the sensors you want to attach depending on the metrics you wish to record.

The AirPi website has a step by step guide to building the weather monitoring station and includes a shopping list, instructions on how to assemble the circuit and all the necessary code to make the system work.

You can find more information about building an AirPi here.

Flood monitor

As the surface temperature of the earth continues to rise, the side effects of climate change become more destructive. Increased flooding is one such consequence, with some scientists predicting that by 2100 the UK will, on average, see 10 percent more rainfall each year.

This particular Raspberry Pi project uses sensors to alert you when flooding occurs. Theoretically, you will have enough time to get to the location and remove anything that is particularly valuable or susceptible to water damage. It can also collect data and then share the information with others who have embarked on the same project.

Like the previous project, the DIY flood monitor requires a WiFi-enabled Raspberry Pi computer. However, you’ll also need to get your hands on some more specialised equipment, including a liquid level sensor and a real-time clock module.

Although this is one of the more complex Pi projects, the original creator has provided a full, in-depth guide on how to build your own Raspberry Pi flood monitor, including instructional videos and all the code needed to make the monitor work as intended. The creator is looking to roll this project out on a larger scale so, if you feel up to the challenge, why not make your own and start monitoring the weather where you live?

You can find more information about building a flood monitor here.

Make your Pi solar-powered

In comparison to other computers, Rasberry Pis are pretty environmentally friendly. However, like all electronics, a Pi computer needs a power source to make it work and unless your power supply is already 100 percent renewable, the electricity in your home will probably have been generated by fossil fuels.

The good news is you don’t have to wait for the government to start meeting renewable energy targets to power your Raspberry Pi more sustainably. This project claims to be “surprisingly easy” and promises to help you turn your Pi into a lean, green, portable machine.

There is one caveat however – depending on where you live and how much sun you get, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to continuously power your Pi using just solar energy. The original creator therefore suggests you also connect a battery to your power management board, just to be safe.

This project requires no coding, all you need is a Raspberry Pi, a compatible solar panel, a power management board, and a screwdriver. The online guide provides recommendations for the best electronics to invest in if you’re new to the world of solar panels, outlining which size and capacity would be best suited to your Raspberry Pi model.

You can find more information about making your Raspberry Pi solar powered here.

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