A Raspberry Pi recreates the horrors of retro broadcast TV, but with modern content

Before you complain that there’s nothing to watch on Netflix, check out Rodrigo Feliciano’s powerful reminder of how awful it once was to watch TV broadcasts. Using a Raspberry Pi, this hacked black and white set simulates the classic TV experience using modern content.

Believe it or not, tiny analog TVs that struggled to tune in to over-the-air broadcasts were a mainstay of children’s rooms in the ’80s and ’90s, and were even something to brag about. Before that time, analog black and white TVs were a luxury. It’s nearly impossible to even give away analog tube TVs right now, but Feliciano’s hack has found a new way to breathe new life into a five-inch black-and-white portable set that was abandoned long ago.

That portability is key to the hack, as the empty battery compartment leaves plenty of room for other components. Without the batteries (which would have died quickly anyway), the compartment had more than enough room to hide a Raspberry Pi and other electronics without the need to open or adjust the TV itself: a risky undertaking given the high-voltage tubes TVs carry. trusted .

The Raspberry Pi’s composite video output made it easy to connect the modern hardware to the old TV, and since it’s just about one of the worst ways to connect video equipment, the resulting picture quality is degraded by default, which helps to sell the retro aesthetic. Content is randomly retrieved from video files stored on the Raspberry Pi when you turn the tuning knob on the side of the TV. Remember, before streaming, you never really got to choose what to watch. Turning your TV’s tuning knob was like pulling the arm of a slot machine: sometimes you hit the big moment (a classic) The Simpsons repeat), but usually not.

The retro TV effect is completed by the use of a relay, which switches the video output from the Pi to random static between video files as they load. Today’s kids may moan that they have to wait a few seconds while watching a spinning wheel on the screen while content loads, but in decades past you’d be blasted with deafening noise if you forgot to turn the volume down before you changed channels.