For an interesting example of automation and the Raspberry Pi - the following project by George Koulouris will be of interest. They have created an Internet radio based arouund the Pi, which plays streaming audio from a varierty of services. However as an interesting twist, the start and stop times for the radio are stored in a Google Docs spreadsheet - which is polled by the Pi to determine when to play the radio. And for local control, a play button has also been added to the project.
Even if you're not interested in the remote aspects, this project results with a very neat end product, placed within a 3D-printed enclosure which looks great. All the design files have been made available so you can recreate your own. For inspiration, a demonstration is shown in the following video:
If you need to rig up some hardware interfacing to your Pi, one options is to use our PiBreak board. It provides labelled breakout pins for all GPIOs, a large prototyping area with solder pads, and power rails for easy power connection:
Furthermore the PiBreak also includes mounting hardware to firmly attach it to your Raspberry Pi using a nut, bolt, and spacer - and is compatible with all revisions of both model A and B Raspberry Pi computers. For more information about our PiBreak board, our Getting Started guide, and to order - visit the product page.