Raspberry Pi Powers Classic CRT Retro Media Experience

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Mairon Wolniewicz)

The Raspberry Pi is a popular tool for retro gaming rigs and retro media. While many members of the Pi community will recommend using a Pi as a media server, Mairon Wolniewicz has taken it upon himself to create a project dedicated to hosting retro media. His Pi-powered retro media platform amps up the nostalgia factor by using an old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TV as housing for the unit. CRT televisions have generally fallen out of favor, due to their size and weight. But for retro enthusiasts, nothing beats the look of them.

The TV chosen for this project is a CRT TV and VCR combo device sold under Sony’s Trinitron brand name. These TVs were once manufactured out of Sony’s factory in Pencoed (Wales) which today produces the Raspberry Pi. To drive the retro media system, Wolniewicz developed a custom GUI using Qt QML—a programming language geared towards user interfaces.

The end result is a CRT TV with a Pi inside that loads up a blue screen UI with white text in a font resembling what you would find on an old VCR interface. It has a menu that lets users choose been watching media, playing retro titles through Emulationstation and even has a radio option that streams music from Spotify. Retro media can be sorted by type of media as well as decade going back as far as the 1970s.

There were several CRT TV models manufactured under the Trinitron name. This one spans 14-inches across and has a built-in VCR which was tested and confirmed to still work. The exact model of Pi isn’t confirmed but this project would work well with a Raspberry Pi 4B or even an older 3B+.

The clever VCR-themed interface was programmed from scratch by Wolniewicz just for this project. It loads up natively on the Pi and was selected in favor of something web-based as it’s hosted locally on the device and doesn’t require launching Chrome in full-screen view. Spotify is loaded with an application called Spotify-tui which has a gorgeous retro interface that blends beautifully with Wolniewicz’s project design.

If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project and how it goes together, check out the project details shared to Reddit. You can also head over to YouTube to see the Pi-powered CRT in action and soak in the handcrafted retro interface and appreciate all it has to offer.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.