LWDW 333: Retro TV with a Raspberry Pi

Two years of living with a PinePhone, Rust is headed to the Linux kernel, a 7 inch mini laptop from MNT Research, and simulating retro analog TV with a Raspberry Pi.


00:00 Intro
09:21 Two years with PinePhone
16:46 Rust headed to the Linux kernel
20:11 MNT Pocket Reform
33:41 Mini RasPi CRT

2 years of Pine (Rtheren)


  • This starts off like most Pinephone experiences. 
  • After the initial “neat” factor wears off you have to deal with reality. 
  • Things like 7 hours of idle battery life. 
  • Things like CRUST firmware came along and helped battery life… if the phone would wake up in time to answer a call. 
  • Then community editions were axed. 
  • In 2022 things have smooth out. 
  • You can process words & browse webs on an OG Pinephone and it’s a stable albeit slow experience. 
  • The big brother PinePhone Pro is still very much a dev device. 
  • In 2022 my answer to should you buy a Pinephone is the same as it was on release. 
  • If you want something inexpensive to tinker with, yes. 
  • That article was written on his Pinephone, probably with an attached Pinephone keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard.
  • I know Mr_Alert in chat uses a PinePhone as a daily driver. 

Rusty Linux soon


  • Something a lot of us in the Linux community have been anticipating, Linus Torvalds says Rust is coming to the Linux kernel really soon.
  • At The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit in Austin, Texas on Tuesday the 21st of June, Linus Torvalds said he expects support for Rust code in the Linux kernel to be merged soon, possibly with the next release, 5.20.
  • Here on LWDW we covered this awesome news when it broke the beginning of last year, and in December, we talked about a patch that added support for Rust as a second language for Linux kernel code.
  • Rust’s integration in the Linux Kernel would lead to better security and stability.
  • And having memory managed drivers that Rust offers is a great idea and can increase the speed of the OS tremendously.

Pocket Reform 


Tv shapes pie

  • Ooohhh, my first thought was, I want that!  A beautiful mini laptop in purple!
  • And, yeah, it has an open source trackball!
  • It has an ortholinear mechanical keyboard.
  • Open hardware, open software, sustainable and takes a standard replaceable battery.
  • I subscribed to the Pocket Reform News to get updates.
  • And look of the list of OSs that the Pocket Reform supports:
    • Debian GNU/Linux
    • Support for other distributions: Arch, Ubuntu, Void
    • Plan 9 (9front), yes, Plan 9!
    • Genode
    • OpenBSD (in development)
  • There’s no pricing details for the Pocket Reform just yet, but MNT says it’ll go into an early beta program with devkits coming soon.
  • The Cortex A53 was a nice bit of kit, in 2015. 
  • Considering the MNT Reform laptop is going for 1.5K this should be priced within reason. 
  • Take a look at their products here
  • They have demonstrated that they can ship products. 

Slice of Pi

4:3 Pi 


  • This is a Raspberry Pi TV simulator, which can make your streaming experience just like the analog TV experience of yore, complete with the 720×486 NTSC analog broadcast resolution and static!
  • The battery compartment underneath the set made the perfect place to mount a Raspberry Pi 3B+, which takes care of streaming a variety of old movies and shorts.
  • The position of the original tuning potentiometer is read by an Arduino mini, which tells the Pi which “channel” you’re currently tuned to.
  • The composite video is fed from the RasPi’s output right into the TV’s video input.
  • I absolutely love the static and snow between channels, for the realistic effect of watching an old Popeye cartoon, Space 1999 or a B rated SciFi movie.
  • Rodrigo used a relay to switch the TV’s tuner back into the circuit for a short bit between channel changes to make the snow effect.
  • That 5” inch portable black and white TV used to be sold in all the drug stores from the 80’s to the early 2ks, and was sold by many different manufacturers, including Coby.
  • I have had one in my eBay watchlist for quite some time, so I can use with my vintage computers and VCRs.

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