With winter staring to really bite this week it’s getting harder to be creative in the workshop, it was down to 3 degrees in there yesterday evening, as you can see!
As soon as the weather warms up a bit (or I sort out the insulation/heating) I’ll be back to making regular projects and videos, the T-card planning board in my office is full of ideas for 2019 and I can’t wait to get cracking.
If you have any project/video ideas or suggestions let us know on the contact form, and stay tuned for updates!
A quick hack to bring some retro gaming cheer to a USB power bank!
I’m working on a Retropie project at the moment, and want the end result to be as portable as possible, so that only an HDMI cable is needed to connect it to a TV. I needed a power source with enough stamina to run the Pi through a gaming session, but without interfering with the analogue style and portability.
The solution – embed an unused 2500 mah power bank into an old gaming cassette box!
This Guji power bank came free with my phone and was the perfect solution – it’s almost exactly the same size as a cassette box.
A few trims with the Dremel and the box was easily modified to snugly hold the power bank, leaving a good air gap around it.
It’s a nice little solution and only took a few minutes, but the power bank is now much more tactile and will hopefully fit nicely with the finished project.
The Raspberry Pi TV HAT arrived a week or so ago and we’ve had great fun setting it up and using it. It does a great job of streaming a digital TV signal around the house, and I use it daily.
For me though the critical thing was being able to easily stream TV to other Raspberry Pis – I have several converted vintage TVs (Like the Hitachi Pi and Casio Pi) and really wanted them to be able to display actual live TV broadcasts.
With a bit of Python I now have the 1982 TV Experience live on the Hitachi Pi! It uses a script to step through four separate VLC playlists (to match the four channels we had in 1982) using the TV’s original rotary tuning dial. The script is on GitHub and is really simple – you could also just use a push button.
I’ve covered my experiences (with some assistance from the cats) in the “New Spec Review” video below, and the write-up is live on Hackster and Instructables.
The next project is definitely going to be finding and adapting a nice vintage case for the TV server Pi – stay tuned for updates!
This is a great way to make practical use of an old or broken cassette player, securely wall-mounting your Google Home Mini into the bargain.
I had the Home Mini kicking around the workshop in its box for almost a year before getting round to building this, and now I use it literally every day. It’s especially handy when you’re up to your elbows in solder and components and need to change the music or podcast.
So excited to receive my Raspberry Pi TV HAT in the post this week! I’ve converted several old TVs using the Pi recently, like the Casio Pi and the Hitachi Pi but there’s always been something missing – an actual digital TV signal.
With the launch of the TV HAT so many possibilities have opened up, from adding a TV tuner to an OSMC Kodi build to streaming digital TV across the home network to other devices.
I’ll be releasing a “New Spec Review” video once I’ve fully got to grips with it (Mostly done, I’m half-watching a live stream of Carry on Cabby on the other monitor as I type), and I’ll also be testing it with my existing TV conversions – and maybe even making a nice retro case to hold the TV Server Pi in style. Stay tuned for updates!
It’s always a special occasion when we have a project in the MagPi, even more so in this case to be surrounded by so many other inspiring builds – there’s absolutely tons of inspiration to be had from this issue.
You can download the .pdf version for free but I’d recommend nipping to WH Smith or Sainsburys to get the super-tactile foil-cover hard copy!
This is a sweet little Casio portable TV that I’ve converted into a handy CCTV monitor using a Raspberry Pi Zero W. It uses all of the original TV circuitry and the Pi is tucked away inside the battery cover. It’s ideal for keeping an eye on the cats or looking out for the postman!
It plays a video stream from a Pi Zero CCTV camera running MotionEye OS, but can equally play local files or any video stream using Omxplayer – it’s a great way to cheaply add a screen to a Pi project, as these old TVs can be powered from the same USB as the Pi and cost as little as £2 second hand.
The project is pretty straightforward and is fully documented on Instructables at…
The build is also covered step by step on YouTube:
It’s the first project I’ve covered from start to finish with a video and it was a ton of fun. The video’s a bit longer than I would have liked but is split into chapters and these are linked from each section of the build on Instructables and Hackster at the links above. Now that I have the video template working and the recording equipment (mostly) behaving itself I hope to publish videos more regularly!
Another recent car boot find costing £2, a 1986 tabletop #OutRun game (or what’s left of it). This thing is absolutely trashed cosmetically, but has a strong look and an absolute ton of potential.
The main controls are a start button, high-low shifter on the left and that cool wheel. Amazingly it still kind of works, it chirps into life with a few beeps and bloops when you press the button and the LCD screen still partly shows the iconic OutRun car you’d control.
To be honest it was only when I took the LCD closeup pic today and saw the car that I realised it was an OutRun game, from there looking closely at the remaining sticker on the wheel I could just make out “Run”, confirming my hopes.
This would have been a really cool game at the time, and after researching what it looked like originally it’s accelerated quickly from the “to do” shelf onto the workbench.
And here it is in the 1989 Argos catalogue:
The thing is I just loved OutRun as a teenager, both in the arcades and on my Spectrum, playing Forza Horizon 4 with the kids yesterday really reminded me of those days. And oddly enough the cassette I used as a base for the “Old Tech. New Spec” branding is my very own original copy.
So here’s the plan.
Have it apart and figure out how the original controls work
Get the controls working with RetroPie
Possibly install an Adafruit Joy Bonnet in the centre of the wheel (to allow other games to be played, Mario Kart 64 runs great on a Pi 3 Model B+)
Install a 5″ 4:3 LCD TV in place of the existing LCD screen
Make some new bodywork, wheels etc and paint the whole thing, making some decals like the original.
It’ll be a decent-sized project but fun to build and well worth it to have my own unique bar-top OutRun game. Stay tuned for updates!
Back in the summer heatwave I picked up this roasted old game console at the car boot for £3 – it’s an Interton VC 4000, an early German-made 8-bit cartridge system from way back in 1978.
There’s not much left of it, but it was fascinating to read up on its history – it looks like 40 separate games were available, and each of them had multiple variations. Obviously with the limited graphics you’d have to use your imagination a bit for titles like Winter Sports and Outer Space Combat.
What really attracted me to the piece though was that analogue controller, with its tactile joystick and 14 buttons. Some of the games at the time included a cardboard overlay you’d put over the buttons, which I really like the idea of – and that explains why they don’t have any obvious markings.
I learned more about this old console from VectrexRoli’s Youtube Video – he gives a tour of the features and some of the games, with a working console and a charming Austrian accent.
The joystick feels like one you’d see on an R/C plane controller, and with so many button options I think this would be ideal for controlling a Pi-based robot, ideally via bluetooth. It’s in stasis on the “to do” shelf for now until the right project comes along.