Raspberry Pi Retro-Looking TV




About: Hi, I love electronics, 3d printing and sharing what i make. I mostly try making useful things, but sometimes I also make some just for fun and for learning something new. And if you like what you see, foll...

This guide shows you how to make and setup a retro-looking TV, with a Raspberry Pi, a Touchscreen and some 3D printed parts, so you end up with something in the neighborhood of a retro tv/monitor.

I have also posted the same guide on my website here.

And if you like what you see, follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@Anders644PI) to keep up with what I make.

You will need:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 (or Pi 2, B+ and A+ with WiFi dongle or ethernet cable plucked in)
  • Adafruit PiTFT 3.5" Touchscreen for Raspberry Pi
  • 5V 2.4A Power Supply for Raspberry Pi
  • 4GB or higher Micro SD Card - An Emty USB Stick
  • Keyboard and a mouse - A connection to a monitor or TV
  • 3D printer and a spool of any color PLA (or you could use a 3D service like 3D Hubs to print it for you)
  • Glue of some sort (I used wood glue)
  • Grey spray paint (optional: you could just stick with the color of the filament)
  • Spool of wood filament (optional)

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Step 1: Enclosure

I made a 3D printed enclosure, to house all the electronics. But you could also make it out of cardboard, wood, etc.

3D printing:

The base of the 3D printed enclosure, were design by the Ruiz Brothers on Adafruit, but I designed the bezel and the legs, to give it a retro-looking theme.

1. Start by downloading the files from the link below, or directly from my Thingiverse page, and print them out. I printed the front and back panel in some ordinary PLA, and the bezel and the legs in a wood-like PLA. But you can use whatever you like, or have on hand.

2. The back of the base has a hinge, that you need to cut free, so it can swing in and out.

3. Spray the outside of the base with some ordinary grey spray paint. I recommend giving it multiple coats.

Remember to paint outside, or in a well ventilated room.

4. Then glue the bezel to the front of the base. I ended up using wood glue for this, because my other glues didn't work. But you can use whatever works for you. Remember to lay something heavy on top, so the glue can settle.

5. At last glue the 4 legs to the bottom.

Notice the orientation and keep pressure on it, while the glue is settling.

6. Put it all together!

  • Start by setting the Touchscreen on top of the Raspberry Pi's GPIO header.
  • Then set the Raspberry Pi with the Touchscreen face down, into the front panel, so the screen and USB-ports line up with the 3D printed case.
  • At last line up the Raspberry Pi's ports on the side, with the back panel, and snap the two halves together. Dont be afraid of it cracking, just work your way from corner to corner.

Step 2: SD Card

It is completely up to you to decide what operating system you will use. You could fx. instead of RetroPie use Raspian, Kodi, etc. But you still have to configure the touch screen, as i will show.

Burning the operating system to the Micro SD Card:

This is only for mac-users! But if you have PC you can easily find a tutorial online, and return to Step 3.

1. Start by downloading your desired operating system from the internet, in my case from https://retropie.org.uk/download/. Be sure to download the latest for Raspberry Pi 2 and 3. Now unzip it.

2. Then use SDFormatter (here or here) to clean the SD Card, and delete everything on it. Do this by selcting your SD Card and setting it to Quick Format, and then clicking Format.

3. Now burn the operating system to the SD Card, with ApplePi-Baker. Again select your SD Card, then select the unzipped operating system, and at last press Restore Backup. This can take som time...

4. Once it's done, you can put the SD Card into the Pi.

Step 3: RetroPie Setup

We will now configure the keyboard and install our ROMs.

1. If you haven't already plugged in all the cables, go ahead and do that now.

Remember to connect power at last!

2. When it have booted up you can configure your keyboard. Start by holding down a key, and then you have to configure the following: "D-PAD UP", "D-PAD DOWN", "D-PAD LEFT", "D-PAD RIGHT", "START", "SELECT", "A" and "B", the rest you can skip by holding down a random key.

Transferring ROMs to the Pi:

You can watch this video as a reference, so check it out if you don't understand it.

1. Insert an empty USB-stick to your computer.

2. On your USB-stick make a new folder called "retropie" and eject the USB-stick.

3. While the Pi is turned on, insert the USB-stick. Wait about 1 min. and take it out again.

4. Now put the SD-card back into your computer, and you should see that there is created some folders in the "retropie"-folder.

5. In the roms-folder you can insert your ROMs, in there associated emulator folder.

6. Plug it back into your Pi, and reboot the system. Do this by by navigating with "A":

Start by Pressing "START" > Then going down to Quit > Then go down to Restart System > And then Yes

7. Once it's finish rebooting, your games should appear, and you can remove the USB-stick without losing the games.

Step 4: Touchscreen

By now it only gets displayed on the TV or monitor you have hooked it up to. So now you need to configure the Touchscreen.

This will not configure the touch, but you can find some premade image for the display on Adafruit, were the touch is added. Fx. here you can find a Jessie-based PiTFT image for the 3.5" display, that you burn to your SD card, just like I showed. And it works right away.

I'm basically just following this guide on Adafruit, but I have stripped it down, so check it out if you want more information about these steps.

1. Start by connecting to WIFI. Do this by going to RetroPie > WIFI and here you can login to your network. After that just Exit.

2. Now by navigating with "A", go into RetroPie on the menu, go to RASPI-CONFIG.


In here navigate with the ARROW-keys and ENTER:

3. In here go to Advanced Options and go over these steps:

  • Overscan: disable.
  • Device Tree: enable (not an option in newer releases; it’s always enabled).
  • SPI: enable and load kernel module by default. (not an option in newer releases; it’s always enabled).
  • Audio: force 3.5mm headphone jack (since HDMI will be disconnected later).

4. Now go Back > And Finish, and reboot the system.

5. After reboot press F4 on you keyboard, and you will be greeted with the Command Line.

6. Here type these commands:

<p>curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/adafruit/Raspberry-Pi-Installer-Scripts/master/pitft-fbcp.sh</p>

Now type:

sudo bash pitft-fbcp.sh

It should now ask you some configuration questions:

  1. Say "y" to Continue.
  2. Select Configure options manually, with "4".
  3. Select PiTFT Plus 3.5", with "4".
  4. Select Normal (landscape), with"1".
  5. Select 270, with "4".
  6. Again say "y" to Continue.
  7. After that say "y" to Reboot.

Step 5: You're Done!!!

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    21 Discussions


    6 months ago

    great work man looks sick!!


    1 year ago

    Hey guys, didn't your Mothers teach you to nnot say anything at all if you haven't anything nice to say?!? You just pop up and say, "Change your title!" And who are you, to just show up and demand such a thing? He has made this instructable, nnot you, annnd if you don't like what he's titled it feel free to keep it to yourself! Right now all of you who told Anders644PI to change his title sound like a bunch of internnet trolls! The rules of this place are, if you haven't anything good to say, don't say anything at all. So he will change his Title when an Instructables Admin asks him to do so, not some schmuck or schmucks telling him to do so from the comments section. More like the peanut gallery! Anders644PI, you keep makinng th8ings the way you want to make them and call it anything you like, you have the God-Given right to do so! I think your build was particulary cool, because it actually resembled a TV I once owned! I totally appreciate the irony of having a microcomputer in the shape of an old TV (which is what I used to hook up my console games to when I was a teenager! Making it even more appropriate, because no one would be able to use those old console games without a TV being involved!) so full points for your build dude! and when someonne starts to criticize your work for no good reason, is usually because they are jealous. My challenge to people like that is to tell them to build their own, that way they can name it whatever they want, but your Name/Title is what you chose, why should you change it? keep building my friend!

    4 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I had to reread it twice to realize it was a TV in name only. I was looking for a small portable TV and realized it was only referring to the cosmetic look and not function


    Reply 1 year ago

    What are you talking about?

    You are misinterpreting the comment as negative and going off for no reason at all. Who's a troll?! Or a schmuck?! Name calling, really? What happened to "if you haven't anything good to say, don't say anything at all"?

    Anders644PI is a big boy, he can defend himself. If he was offended, I trust he would have said so. As for your evaluation of the work, I totally agree... However, you are way off if you think you have a case against my intentions.

    It was a suggestion that he make his title fit the project. There was no disrespect intended in our comments. In fact, I only chimed in because the author's response to the initial advice from another user was not really addressing the problem; as if he was too close to the project to see why the title was actually wrong. So I wanted him to take another look. By being specific about the error, I figured he'd get it.

    We simply want other users to be able to FIND the instructable without getting upset when they realize that the title mislead them to something that is NOT a TV. Fine, let it get lost in the shuffle... But, seriously, this guide is way too well done to be lost!

    As for making my own instructables, how is that a necessary step to posting comments? Some of us are here to get ideas, but are not necessarily ready to post anything. I have taken ideas from many sources and made my own projects better because of it. I checked your page: ONE instructable... And a winner no less! Bravo! So, should you be restricted to commenting only on making bread? Of course not.

    Anyway, I will thank you to concern yourself with my comments when they are inaccurate. Otherwise, kindly refrain from inventing your own motivations for what others say or do. I am neither jealous nor am I a troll, or a schmuck. Just evaluating as honestly and clearly as I can. Sure I could have been a little more delicate with my opinion on the aesthetics of his "TV" design, but a little sarcasm never hurt anyone... But, as the author will receive this comment too, I will take this opportunity to apologize for any perceived insult.

    [ Anders644PI, I'm sorry if you were offended by my comment. ]

    But still, I stand by its content. The title is (still) badly worded, and the 'TV-look', although a good idea, is lacking enough detail to make it a total success. Everything else looks brilliant! ...Now go make some bread or something! ;-)


    Reply 1 year ago

    Just so you now, I wasn't at all offended by any of your comments. And I see what you(RobertC2) mean, when you say that my title is a little off. And when I have changed the title now, it's only because I want to. But so what that my title is a little of, that shouldn't be something that make a huge discussion.

    But can we please end it now. IT'S JUST A TITLE!


    1 year ago

    I think OculumForamen is spot-on, with his assessment of the Nay Sayers. Apparently "Please be positive and constructive" is a concept beyond some people's grasp (or agenda).

    Lets see, Anders644PI, you took the time to create and share a multifaceted instructable, including:

    *Custom designing 3D printing enclosure parts, and including the files.

    *Embedding an "exploded view" animation of the enclosure assembly.

    *Offering suggestions of low-tech enclosure options, for the 3D parts (cardboard, wood).

    *Providing detailed installation/set up instructions for the operating system, RetroPie, touch screen, ETC.

    Wow, really well done!

    The thing about trolls is, they're easy to spot. Whether they're the "grammar police" or "efficiency experts" or the "I'm smarter than you" or the "why don't you just go buy one" or even the "I don't like what you named your project" variety, they all seem to share a commonality. They criticize, fault find, and complain about OTHER people's work, but they don't ever actually DO anything creative themselves. I hope you do keep dreaming, planning, building and sharing, cause it drives the trolls absolutely insane. Cheers :)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, and I will keep making :-)

    By the way... Merry Christmas!!!


    1 year ago

    Without a tuner this is a monitor not a TV. Please retitle your instructable.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I don't say it's a TV, I just say it looks like a retro TV.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Sorry, dude, but fly_boy is right.

    Your title says "...retro looking TV..." which, in English, means that it is a TV that is retro-looking. As awkward as it sounds, you want to say it's a portable (dunno 'bout pocket-sized) touchscreen game pad that happens to look like a retro TV (except for the no knobs thing and the big ugly wire coming out the top).

    Just change the title. :-)


    1 year ago

    very nice looking - I don't understand where the input comes from though - antenna, cable, composite video?

    what are the ROM's for?

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks. What input do you mean? Do you mean the screen? And the ROM's are types of games that can be emulated in RetroPie.


    Reply 1 year ago

    sorry, I figured it took an external input - i understand that it's a display for the emulator. nice build..


    1 year ago

    Please correct your title. This is not a TV. No Tuner


    1 year ago

    This is so cool! It's a shame you couldn't get the power cable on the back. You can supply power through the GPIO pins though, and terminate the wires into a DC barrel connector. A few fake knobs and stuff would make it super retro.....perhaps in the next iteration? ;-)

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    I believe there's also a version of OpenELEC that works with the PiTFT, if you want to use a media center rather than a game emulator.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Exactly! You can adapt it to nearly anything, I just showed one example.

    Cool project. You might also consider entering this into the Arduino contest. It is open to all microcontroller projects.