I'm a scrapper and hacker of vintage electronics. I found this wacky old portable TV with a small B&W screen and I really love the look of it. I want to feed it video (or something) from a Raspberry Pi. However, it does not have any kind of video input. It doesn't have RCA Composite in, or HDMI in. I'm including a couple photos of the electronics to give you an idea what I'm working with.

Ideally, I would like to input video. Alternatively, I would be happy displaying something like PONG or any kind of vector line display.

Any ideas? Old Portable TV TV Guts

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Since the TV doesn't have a composite input this is really an electronics question rather than a Raspberry Pi question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Craig
    Apr 19 '18 at 15:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would replace the cathode ray tube by a touch display (connected to RPi) and keep the enclosure (this would give you some space inside for the RPi and other stuff) \$\endgroup\$
    – user184871
    Apr 19 '18 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why tho? Leave the tube in. You could still fit a standard pi or better yet a zero in there. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Apr 19 '18 at 18:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "It doesn't have ... or HDMI in" - I love the optimism in the question ;) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 19 '18 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does it have an antenna (coax) input? \$\endgroup\$
    – Bort
    Apr 19 '18 at 18:57

You'll want an old-school RF modulator: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RF_modulator. These were common in the days prior to baseband composite inputs on TVs. They basically are an upconverter-in-a-box: they take the composite signal and upconvert it to the VHF broadcast band so that it looks like an over-the-air signal to the TV. You simply tune to the channel the modulator upconverts to, and presto, you've got video.

If the TV doesn't have a coaxial input for the antenna (ie: it has integrated rabbit ears), you'll need wire one in place of the antenna. In this case, you may also need an attenuator between the modulator and the antenna input, as the RF frontend of the TV might saturate above a certain input level. I would try without an attenuator first, though.


You will need to ensure that the frame rate, num lines video parameters are the same as TV.

An RF modulator is a great suggestion. (if you can't buy one, you might find it is inside an old video player which has rf out)

There will however be a point inside where the signal is composite. This will be about the output of the tuner, which is a little tin box. You can probably feed composite in here.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Why would they use vga? RPi natively has composite out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Apr 19 '18 at 22:54

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