5 Useful Raspberry Pi Projects For Your Hangout Space

Picking up a Raspberry Pi opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. If you're trying to liven up a hangout space or man cave, a Raspberry Pi is more than up to the task. Whether you're trying to relive your childhood through a retro game emulator or make something that can play music, you have your choice of projects. Raspberry Pi projects aren't always the easiest to take on, but if you're willing to sift through the various tutorials and follow step-by-step instructions, then you shouldn't run into too much trouble. You will need a specific set of tools to tinker around with, so keep that in mind.

Each project on this list will enhance any hangout space, and they could prove to be a major talking point at your next get-together. Many Raspberry Pi projects are inexpensive outside of buying the Pi itself, so it's a relatively affordable hobby for the most part. You'll see that some projects still require a high upfront investment, so those are better left for dedicated Pi users.

Retro gaming machine

A Raspberry Pi is a perfect way to avoid scouring eBay for older video consoles, as you can create a retro Pi-based console yourself. This is done through emulation, and the Raspberry Pi is a good option. The process itself isn't all too expensive, but you'll likely have to spend somewhere in the $100 to $200 range. You'll need to pick up the Pi board, a micro HDMI to HDMI cable, a power supply, a microSD card, and a controller. These are all things you might have lying around already, so you can save some cash if that's the case. You'll also want to remember that playing something like an SNES game on a modern 4K TV won't look the best, so check your nostalgia goggles at the door.

Another option is to use the 3.5mm composite video output minijack port that is present on several Raspberry Pi models. This will give a lower video quality output, that is more suited to retro-gaming — just make sure your TV has the necessary inputs.

Once you have everything put together, you'll need to load your Pi with a retro game emulator. RetroPie is a popular option, but there are plenty of alternatives if you want to try something else. RetroPie is a go-to option for people because it has many console emulators available, ranging from the Master System and Game Boy Color to the Atari 800 and NES.

Pi-powered smart screen

While something like a Google Nest Hub can provide this service for you, sometimes it's more fun to build a smart screen yourself. For this project, you'll need to grab a Pi and a display screen, as you won't be hooking this one up to a TV like you should with other devices. A 7-inch screen will work, but you can go larger or smaller depending on your preference. In Stanislav Khromov's guide, there's an entire breakdown of what you'll need to pull this project off. It's a little more involved than simply installing software and calling it a day, but beginners can do this without running into too many problems.

The result of the project is something that can act as a clock, a calendar, or even your electricity usage. It's a handy thing to have, and it'll always allow you to know what time it is. In a pinch, it can play music at a get-together if you have a screen with onboard speakers or connect some via Bluetooth.