Eight(ish) Raspberry Pi projects for the summer

The sun is actually shining here in Cambridge, and with it, summer-themed Raspberry Pi projects are sprouting like mushrooms across our UK-based community (even though mushrooms don’t like hot weather…). So we thought we’d gather some of our favourite Pi-powered projects perfect for the sun-drenched outdoors.

Air quality monitors and solar radiation

With the sun out in all its glory, we’re spending far more time outside than is usual for UK summer. To protect yourself and your adventurous loved ones, you might want to build a Raspberry Pi device to monitor solar radiation.

Raspberry Pi summer project

“Solar radiation is the radiation, or energy, we get from the sun.” explains project designer Uladzislau Bayouski. “Measurements for solar radiation are higher on clear, sunny day and usually low on cloudy days. When the sun is down, or there are heavy clouds blocking the sun, solar radiation is measured at zero.”

To measure more health-related environmental conditions, you could build this air quality monitor and keep an eye on local pollution.

Particulater air quality Oliver Crask Raspberry Pi summer project

Maker Oliver Crask describes the project:

Data is collected by the particulates sensor and is combined with readings of temperature, humidity, and air pressure. This data is then transferred to the cloud, where it is visualised on a dashboard.

If you’ve been building your own hackable weather station using our free guide, these are also great add-ons to integrate into that project.

Build Your Own weather station kit assembled Raspberry Pi summer project

Automatic pet and plant feeders

While we’re spending our days out in the sun, we need to ensure that our pets and plants are still getting all the attention they need.

This automatic chicken feeder by Instructables user Bertil Vandekerkhove uses a Raspberry Pi to remotely control the release of chicken feed. No more rushing to get home to feed your feathered friends!

Raspberry Pi summer project

And while we’re automating our homes, let us not forget the plants! iPlanty is an automated plant-watering system that will ensure your favourite plant babies get all the moisture they need while you’re away from your home or office.

Electromagnetic bike shed lock

If, like me, you live in constant fear that your beloved bike may be stolen, this electromagnetic bike shed lock is the solution you need.

Raspberry Pi summer project

The lock system allows for only one user per lock at any one time, meaning that your bike needs to be removed before anyone else can use their RFID card to access the shed.

Time-lapse cameras

With so much sunlight available, now is the perfect time to build a time-lapse camera for your garden or local beauty spot. Alex D’s Zero W time-lapse HAT allows for some glorious cinematic sliding that’s really impressed us.

If you don’t think you can match Alex’s PCB milling skills, you can combine our free Raspberry Pi timelapse resource and Adafruit’s motorised camera slider for a similar project!

Infrared laser tag

Raspberry Pi summer project

While it’s sunny and warm, why not make this Raspberry Pi Zero W laser tag for the kids…

…and then lock them outside, and enjoy a Pimms and a sit-down in peace. We’re here for you, suffering summer holiday parents. We understand.

Self-weighing smart suitcase

“We’re all going on a summer holiday”, and pj_dc’s smart suitcase will not only help you track of your case’s location, it’ll also weigh your baggage.

Raspberry Pi summer project

Four 50kg load cells built into the base of the case allow for weight measurement of its contents, while a GPS breakout board and antenna let you track where it is.

Our free resources

While they’re not all summer-themed, our free Raspberry Pi, Code Club, and CoderDojo resources will keep you and your family occupied over the summer months whenever you’ve had a little too much of the great outdoors. From simple Scratch projects through to Python and digital making builds, we’ve got something for makers of all levels and tastes!

Getting started with Raspberry Pi summmer projects

If you’re new to Raspberry Pi, begin with our Getting started guide. And if you’re looking for even more projects to try, our online community shares a sea of tutorials on Twitter every week.


Jongoleur avatar

The self-weighing suitcase is interesting, but not practical. A commercial version foundered because the airlines were not keen on battery-powered always on devices being carried on their flights. It might look too much like a bomb, I suppose.

W. H. Heydt avatar

I was going to make a similar point about the self weighing suitcase.

The problem the airlines have is the use of Lithium batteries in the cargo hold. If you use some other type of battery, it should be possible to build such a project.

Or, of course, if you prefer to travel by train, both the battery type and weight would be moot, though knowing what it weighs might still be useful.

(I once had to ask an Amtrak station agent whet the *real* weight limit for luggage was. He replied, “If you can pick it up and get it on the train, we’ve fine with it.”

James Carroll avatar

Weight doesn’t matter to a locomotive. They weigh cargo by the ton.

Bombern avatar

Weight on a train is not an issue, floor space is. They sell cubic meters/feet on a train.

 avatar

I think any Raspberry Pi project could easily become problematic boarding an airplane.

Liz Upton avatar

You’d be surprised; I’ve been through security approximately a kajillion times with any number of Raspberry Pis, and I’ve never been stopped because of them. (I have, however, been stopped because of a small bottle of eyedrops, and because of my baby’s bottle. Apparently the security people have priorities, but I’m stumped if I know what they are.)

M Daniels avatar

Liz Upton, I think the real problem identified by the unamed respondent that you replied to is that the Pi and other electronics in this project are actually running whilst in the hold of the aircraft. I assume that the Pies you carry are boxed and unpowered.

Airport security priorities are, I think, supposed to be a mystery to the general public with only very specific information being fed to us in order that we can (attempt to) comply with their rules. It gives less possibility for you or I to successfully argue a case for carrying an item onto the plane that they would rather remained behind!

Liz Upton avatar

A very nice man in Japan let me onto a plane last month without having to surrender or repack anything despite the fact he’d just identified a pair of nail scissors in my hand luggage. The fact it was 1.30 am and I had a miserable toddler in one arm probably had something to do with it. The Raspberry Pis went unmentioned.

Nate avatar

How does the suitcase update a cloud service with its GPS location? I didn’t see a sim card/cellular modem in the build. Is it supposed to connect to open airport WiFi, and how does it get through the captive portals?

Martin Bonner avatar

I am worried about the bike shed lock. Security is really hard for an amateur (actually, it’s really hard for professionals too!) – and it’s impossible to test for. There are an *awful* lot of bad “smart locks” out there, and I see no reason to suppose this is any better. As a fun toy, fine; as a way to protect assets of significant value – use a proper lock with a physical key.

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