Best Raspberry Pi Projects: January 2023

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We’re kickstarting 2023 with a list of our favorite Raspberry Pi projects. It’s no secret we love this pocket-sized single board computer so let’s dig into some of the most inspirational creations we’ve had the honor of featuring over the last month. There are tons of cool ideas to get you excited including some mind-blowing projects made with vintage hardware that’s old enough to vote!

These makers use the best Raspberry Pi accessories, HAT, and in some cases the best 3D printers around to pull off their clever constructions and we admire their ingenuity every step of the way. Whether you have a project in mind or just need something to springboard your next project, this list is sure to get you started off on the right foot. 

Doomed Christmas Decoration

(Image credit: Sprite_tm)

Decorating the Christmas tree is a family tradition for most, but this Christmas ornament offers much more than festive cheer. This ornament looks like a desktop PC and yes, as the name suggests, it plays Doom. This beautiful craft is guaranteed to add a post-apocalyptic twist to your holiday decor for years to come. This isn’t strictly a Pi project as it is powered by an ESP32 microcontroller, but there is nothing to stop you from replacing the ESP32 with a Raspberry Pi Pico, or spin your own RP2040 board. How do we know this? Because we did it live on an episode of The Pi Cast.

Why we love it:

We’re always amazed at the amount of hardware capable of running Doom and this ornament is no exception. It looks great, works as intended, and definitely got a few laughs out of us. If you’re thinking about recreating it, stop thinking and get to work. It’s totally worth it.

Read: Doomed Christmas Ornament 

Raspberry Pi Christmas Lights Web Server

(Image credit: Zatagado)

The Raspberry Pi is often a go-to board for driving addressable RGB LEDs, it was just a matter of time before someone put them on a Christmas tree. This project not only uses a Pi-powered LED strip but it also features a web server that users can access via browser to change the lights and set custom effects.

Why we love it:

This project looks just as fun to put together as it does to use. Controlling the WS2812B LEDs with a Pi is one thing but we really appreciate the extra steps taken to host a web server with a custom UI for adjusting the lights. It’s just icing on the cake.

Read: Raspberry Pi Christmas Lights 

Raspberry Pi Psion PDA 'Sidecar'

(Image credit: Kian Ryan)

This “sidecar” is a Pi-powered passport to the internet for Kian Ryan’s Psion 5MX PDA handheld. Good luck connecting this old school PDA to the internet without it. It took a bit of ingenuity to throw this project together and the end result was definitely worth the effort.

Why we love it:

Any excuse to combine old school tech with a Raspberry Pi is a winner in our book. We love breathing life into old hardware and this is a great example of one of the many creative ways you can integrate a Pi for some cool end results.

Read: Raspberry Pi Psion PDA Sidecar 

Raspberry Pi Spinning 'Holographic' Christmas Tree

(Image credit: Sean Hodgins)

When a good idea gets around, it really gets around and such is the case with Sean Hodgin’s spinning Pi-powered holographic Christmas tree. This project uses a Pi to rotate an LED strip that changes fast enough to create a holographic effect using persistence of vision. Because it’s the holidays, he’s turned it into a Christmas tree but you can program any animation you want.He even went a step further at New Year’s and played Doom on the tree!

Why we love it:

This project is super dangerous and super cool. Who wouldn’t appreciate a Pi project you’re better off observing from behind bullet proof glass? He made everything from scratch including the code as well as the metal frame used in its construction.

Read: Raspberry Pi Spinning Holographic Christmas Tree 

Raspberry Pi Dr. Who Cluster Ornament

(Image credit: Chris Benson)

If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’re going to love this project. If you’re a cluster fan, you’re also going to love this project. With the help of two Raspberry Pis, Chris Benson has created the coolest TARDIS ornament we’ve ever seen. It even has a blinking light on top that flashes when the ornament moves.

Why we love it:

We’re suckers for Sci-Fi and we’re suckers for Pi. Throw them together and we’re bound to fall in love. It’s cool enough when someone makes a replica of something fun from one of our favorite series but doubly so when that replica has real life functionality. Making this a cluster just adds to the allure.

Read: Raspberry Pi Dr. Who Cluster Ornament 

Raspberry Pi Pico Armachat Touch Doomsday Computer 

(Image credit: Bobricius)

Prepping for doomsday? You’re going to want one of Bobricius’s Picomputer Touch Armachat Doomsday Computers. It lets you communicate wirelessly with other Armachat devices using LoRa. It features a custom PCB and is totally powered by a Raspberry Pi Pico, complete with a display and backlit keyboard.

Why we love it:

Just look at it! This project is amazing not only for what it can do but the design is just on point. We love a good project that uses a custom PCB, especially one that comes out looking this sharp. The backlit keys use rear soldered LEDs to provide a subtle glow to your conversation.Doomsday or not, we definitely want a few of these to play with for fun.

Read: Raspberry Pi Pico Armachat Touch Doomsday Compute 

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.

  • R_1
    Raspbian XP has merged with RaspbianX and is now Twister OS.

    you can get it here
  • princeror
    Admin said:
    Makers this summer are keeping their hands busy with plenty of cool Raspberry Pi projects. Here are some of the best ones we've encountered over the past month.

    Best Raspberry Pi Projects: August 2020 : Read more
    Raspberry Pi Scoreboard is the best Pi project
  • Endymio
    >> "This matrix cube project was created by a maker known as Sebastian Staacks. Using a Raspberry Pi, it constantly displays an animation that changes as his CPU temperature rises ..."
    A quad-core CPU and 20 million lines of Linux OS code-- all to implement a color-changing thermometer? And this is your number one project for the month? As much of a Raspberry Pi fan as I am, there is something indescribably banal in many of these projects.
  • mrv_co
    Wow, judging by what I've seen on Reddit, I thought the only possible RPi projects were 'smart mirror' projects.
  • jtremblant
    @Tomshardware, It's "Pi Labs", you have a typo in your article
  • DotNetMaster777
    Nice review
  • mamasan2000
    If you want a static IP on your RPI and you have it at the same spot (at home for example), go into your router and find Lan Setup or similar. Tie the RPIs MAC-address to an IP. It will always get that IP, even if you have DHCP on. Same goes for all the other devices you set up that way. So you can wipe the PC, RPI, whatever and they will always have the same IP.