The 3 best starter projects for your Raspberry Pi 3

Start your Pi 3 journey with these simple, step-by-step projects...

The initial excitement of ordering a new £25 tiny-puter can quickly turn into procrastination – do I actually have the time or ability to turn this Pi 3 into an automatic cat feeder?

If the answer is 'probably not', we recommend trying these three starter projects to build your tinkering confidence. All three – the £30 office PC, media centre and retro games arcade – make use of the Pi 3’s boosted power and wireless capabilities. You'll also get a good grounding in terminal commands and the Noobs OS.  

Better still, all you need is your Raspberry Pi 3, an SD card and our handy tips...

The £25 desktop PC

The Raspberry Pi 3's power boost and wireless networking make it a great desktop for web browsing and work. The latest version of Raspbian even includes a fully-featured office suite. Here's how to set it up as your home computer...

1) Download Noobs

The Raspberry Pi 3 is the first generation of circuit board computers with the power and features to make a decent bargain basement PC. It doesn’t come with the software we need, though. For that we need to head over to Head to the Downloads section and grab Noobs.

2) Prep your SD card

Now we need to format our memory card, which will need a full-size SD adapter to fit in your computer unless you have a microSD reader. The card needs to have at least 8GB storage, and we’ll format it using the SD Formatter from It’s available for OS X and Windows. Run it, select Overwrite, then the format button.

3) Copy and unmount

Noobs is so easy to use that all we need to do is extract the files in it and drag them over to our newly-formatted memory card. You don’t get much easier than that. Once you’re done, click on the drive in Explorer/Finder and Eject the drive. That last bit matters.

4) Install Raspbian

Plug the microSD card into your Pi 3 and jam in the microUSB power cable. The Pi will boot up to the Noobs install screen, offering a whole bunch of front-ends we can use. What we want this time is Raspbian, the top selection. This is the Pi’s version of Windows 10 or OS X.

5) Start exploring

After Raspbian is installed, the Pi 3 will boot into the main system UI, which is like a retro version of OS X or Windows. It’s based on Linux, and comes pre-installed will all the goodies an office PC needs. Press the button in top left corner of the screen, and under the Office header is a whole suite. Boom.