So the other day I remembered the location of an old TV/VCR combo, and I my first thought was how can I hook a Raspberry Pi up to this? I lugged it off to my desk, and after realizing how large (and heavy) these small TVs were, I decided to put it on my nightstand; the only flat, non-coffee table, surface I had remaining. I initially assumed this would be a plug-and-play project I could get done in one evening, as I had an HDMI-to-RCA converter on hand (read: stashed away in my closet tangled up with other wires inside a tote bag) already. So I grabbed a MicroSD, fired up balenaEtcher, and set off to work.
Then I realized why I thew the HDMI-to-RCA converter into the bag with all my VGA cables in the first place. It distorted the resolution to the point where the Pi was unusable. I literally could not see half the screen, just like when I used it with an XBox One. So, after looking at my old Raspberry Pi 1 that I got way back in High School, I wondered about RCA output on the Raspberry Pi 3. Would I have to shell out more money for a decent HDMI to RCA converter? Turns out, the 3 still does have RCA output, but now it runs through the 3.5mm Headphone Jack. A quick order on Amazon to grab this adapter, a few days to wait for shipping, a WalMart run to get an RCA audio Y adapter, and then it begins once more.
I grabbed a spare surge protector and keyboard, plugged everything in where it needed to go, and then prepared to boot. I did get sidetracked when I tried hooking up a digital TV antenna to the TV to turn this combo into a triple threat but being in a basement, I wasn’t able to get any reception, so I scrapped that. Maybe I’ll try again if I get a window.
After some trial and error, I found this post that helped me get the Pi to output to the TV. And instead of a black screen with green letters that said LINE 2 in the upper right, there was the boot screen in all of it’s pixelated glory. I did however, have more resolution issues. Nowhere near what I faced with the HDMI-to-RCA converter though.
Upon my initial boot, a handful of pixels were cut off on the left side. I could only see aspberrypi: ~$ at the prompt, so I googled again (actually DuckDuckGo’d). Turns out, for old CRT TVs, I had to once again edit /boot/config.txt (
sudo vim /boot/config.txt). After playing around with some of the overscan values I found I had to make sure disable_overscan was commented out and that the overscan_left, overscan_right, overscan_top, and overscan_bottom values were set to 24, 28, 4, and 4 respectively. Afterwards, it booted up just fine. If anyone out there has a desire to do a similar project, your overscan values may vary.
Once that was sorted, I rebooted, connected to my network, and installed neofetch, the program that lets you show off your system specs to everyone on r/unixporn and that I show my friends each time I upgrade my desktop only to get “cool I guess?” in response. I guess no one else cares about me getting Nvidia drivers to work.
It may not fit on my desk, but with it on my nightstand I can watch all the VHS tapes I want AND browse the internet via lynx. All from the comfort of my bed. What could be more convenient in 2019?