These Raspberry Pi Applications Are Probably Better Than Yours

March 02, 2016 by Tim Youngblood

See how people around the world are using Raspberry Pis to spread information freely.

See how people around the world are using Raspberry Pis to spread information freely.

The Raspberry Pi 3 came out earlier this week, and with the addition of WiFi and Bluetooth capability, Raspberry Pi will bring access to information for even more people around the world. The future looks bright for the spread of free information, so I thought this would be a good time to look back on some of the things people have used Pis to help people.

Portable Radio Transmitters in Syria

In Syria, people are using Raspberry Pis as radio transmitters to provide information to areas outside of the Assad regime. The RPi has been the device of choice due to their small size and low power requirements. These Pocket FMs are about the size of a shoebox, and can be powered by solar panels, batteries, and generators. The devices can broadcast almost 4 miles, making them ideal for covering rural towns. The PocketFMs transmit an FM signal that normal radios can pick up, enabling locals to receive information about developing conflicts, locations of aid drops, and other important information. Since FM radio is relatively old technology, the Pocket FMs can operate in places that don't have internet access or reliable electricity.

The PocketFMs are ideal for conflict zones because they're easy to transport, and only allow transmission when a correct code is entered. MiCT (Media in Cooperation and Transition) has built several Pocket FMs that are used to receive transmissions from a network called Syrnet, which is a collection of radio stations that are independent of government and extremist propaganda. Many of these stations broadcast from highly dangerous areas. You can learn more about MiCT and Syrnet from their recently released video:

Low Power Computer Lab in Cameroon

In 2013, a volunteer group provided 30 Pis for an under-developed village in Cameroon. Binshua, the village in northwest Cameroon, has no reliable source of water or electricity. In fact, the computer lab was powered by a generator, with the nearest internet access in a village 3 hours away. The computers do, however, have office suite software to prepare students for higher education. The computers are also equipped with Scratch, to get young people into coding and computer science.


The Saint Marcellin Comprehensive College's computer lab. Image courtesy of the Raspberry Pi Foundation

WiFi VPN Hotspot in China

In the People's Republic of China, one Redditor found a great use for his RPi. He made a mobile Wifi hotspot using his RPi to circumvent internet censorship. Although it's fairly easy to bypass China's firewall on a personal computer using a VPN, it's more difficult to bypass on mobile devices, especially if you're somebody who uses multiple devices. 


Thank you, Reddit


There are a lot of ways to bypass censorship in China, but I'm a sucker for things made with RPis. Now that the RPi 3 has Wifi capability, /u/JaiPasInternet can upgrade their setup!

We love to hearing about new uses for low-cost single-board computers like the RPi. If you know of any interesting stories from around the world, or if you've made any cool devices yourself, let us know in the comment section.

1 Comment
  • P
    picopi March 19, 2016

    I got a Raspberry PI2 Model B+ and I can’t even play HD (1280x720p) on it.
    That’s what I bought it for. To install VLC and have it as my HD TV/movie theater.
    Useless hardware for video playback.

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