When it comes to tech devices, the fewer cables the better. Unfortunately, going wireless often means buying a new product with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capability, or else spending a premium on products that convert wired devices to wireless.
Luckily, with just a humble Raspberry Pi, there is a brilliant DIY solution to this problem. With minimal components required, you can convert a printer into a wireless printing station; turn your old hi-fi sound system into a wireless audio player; or simply share a USB device wirelessly over a network.
The Benefits of Going Wireless With Raspberry Pi
Besides how convenient wireless devices are, you can also save another piece of tech going to waste. If you have an old printer or sound system lying around at home, chances are it still works. You can use a Raspberry Pi to add wireless capability to these old devices and give them a new lease of life. But that’s not the only benefit. You can also:
- Avoid premium prices on commercial wireless solutions
- Get rid of clutter
- Make your tech more convenient to use
If you already have a spare Raspberry Pi 3B or 4B model then you can put it to good use. But even if you don’t, buying one can cost less than $50. It’s well worth the price when you consider the long list of other things you can use the small single-board computer for, including Raspberry Pi IoT projects and Raspberry Pi powered robots.
1. Make Your Printer Wireless With Raspberry Pi
While office printers have long been wireless, you might still have a USB wired printer at home. Upgrading to a new wireless printer is an option, but one that might not be worth the cost, especially if your current printer is a good-quality model. A more affordable option is to instead use a Raspberry Pi as a print server.
For about the same time it would take to go out and look for a new printer (likely less than that even), you can follow our step-by-step guide for how to make your own wireless printer with a Raspberry Pi.
The process couldn’t be more simple as the only hardware that you need is a USB printer connected to your Raspberry Pi. Any Wi-Fi enabled board will work in this case, including the Raspberry Pi 3B or 4B, as well as the Raspberry Pi Zero W. Beyond those two hardware components, the rest of the work involves configuring your Raspberry Pi and installing the necessary software.
2. Convert Your Sound System Into a Wireless Audio Player With Raspberry Pi
Old sound systems can be well worth reviving because of some of the functions they have to offer. These include large speakers, powerful amplifiers, and stereo and surround sound features. If you have a high-quality sound system at home (analog or digital), don’t throw it away if wireless capability is all you are after. Simply hook up a Raspberry Pi and follow this great guide on Balena Sound.
Balena Sound is an open-source software that allows you to stream music through Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and more. When compared to commercial solutions, this DIY method has the benefit of being free, open-source, and untethered from platforms and subscriptions. You don’t even need to connect to the internet to play music, which means you can simply play music from your local library if you choose.
The quick deploy option will install all the necessary tools required for Balena Sound to work on your Raspberry Pi. But you can also take the traditional and more advanced route of manually deploying applications if you want, which allows you to remove things like the Spotify integration from the code if you don’t want it.
On the hardware end, you only need a Raspberry Pi 3B+ or 4B, an 8GB microSD card, and a 3.5mm audio cable. Beyond that, using the one-click deploy button will have you set up and ready in no time.
Everything is available on GitHub if you want a deeper look at the software.
3. Use a Raspberry Pi to Wirelessly Share Any USB Device
With a Raspberry Pi, you no longer have to plug a USB device into your main computer locally in order to access it. Your USB device can be sitting in a room far away from you while you control it remotely. It’s an unassuming solution, but one that can be extremely useful.
Some uses for this setup might include, for example, setting up a web camera from a different angle in your workspace. Because it’s entirely wireless, you can move the camera to any position you like and still be able to use it like you normally would if it were connected locally to your computer with a USB cable.
Another use for this setup is to gain remote access to software license dongles. Normally you need to connect your dongle directly to a computer, and if you want to use the license on any other computer, you have to physically move it to that device. To make life easier, you can plug the dongle into a Raspberry Pi and wirelessly share the license across your network.
A Simple Way to Wirelessly Share USB Devices
Setting up a wireless connection between your USB device and your computer couldn’t be any simpler using just a Raspberry Pi. The host of Novaspirit Tech on YouTube explains just how easy it is to achieve using a software called VirtualHere.
This software has a free version which lets you connect one USB device with no time limit on your trial. Following that, you can make a one-time purchase for $49 which gets you a perpetual license and free updates going forward. The paid version will mean you can connect 122 devices; however, the free version is more than enough to run something like a wireless dongle or webcam.
This software is quick and painless to install and is available for virtually any operating system, including Linux, macOS, and Windows. You can find a dedicated Raspberry Pi Image for your specific model listed on the VirtualHere Linux USB Server page. It’s free from subscriptions and also doesn’t require the internet to operate your USB device wirelessly; for these reasons alone, it’s a fantastic option.
If you are looking for more examples of what to do with a wireless USB setup, consider wireless gaming controllers, untethered audio controllers, setting up a remote radio with software or internet, wireless 3D printing, and live-controlling remote LEDs.
DIY Wireless Devices With Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi has a lot of brilliant uses, which now include helping you to add wireless functionality to old wired devices.
With a Raspberry Pi, you can avoid paying for premium solutions that might come bundled with subscription fees or data security concerns. Beyond that, it gives you the option of using free and open-source software to control your devices just the way you want.
Discover the $70 Raspberry Pi desktop PC integrated into a keyboard and explore what you can do with it.
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