This Raspberry Pi Terminal is as Small as it is Cool

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Dan Aldred)

No matter how much tech improves, there will always be members of the community determined to revive and emulate the old-school specifications of vintage machines. So instead of using the pixel density of their modern display panels to the fullest extent, they’re doubling up pixels to get that retro feel. This seems to be the case with Dan Aldred’s Raspberry Pi-powered fake terminal project known as the Ferminal.

Aldred is the mastermind behind TeCoEd (Teaching Computing Education), which provides resources for teachers, students and makers who want to expand their knowledge in different areas of microelectronics. He’s even been a guest on our Raspberry Pi-themed podcast, The Pi Cast, highlighting his work.

According to Aldred, the Ferminal project was created using recycled components from his retro video player project. This system featured a small  I2C OLED display housed inside an Argus PreViewer slide viewer shell. You can get a closer look at the retro video player project over at his YouTube channel. Wanting to explore further use cases for the old Argus PreViewer, he refashioned it into the Ferminal system.

The Ferminal project uses the same housing and screen but is much more interactive. It’s powered by a Raspberry Pi 4, which has a keyboard attached via USB. The video outputs to the recycled display, housed behind the Argos PreViewer shell. Once powered up, users are met with a familiar black background and an image-free, text-based interface.

This interface allows users to input text using the USB keyboard. Each line is programmed with a character limit that forces the line to drop when it’s been met to make room for more text. This project is more of a proof of concept than it is a terminal as there is no way to input commands or produce responses. Aldred programmed the interface using Python 3.

If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project or make something similar, check out the original project video on YouTube. You can also check out the official video demo on YouTube and explore the source code over at GitHub.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.