Playing retro games or watching older movies on your Raspberry Pi Zero board over a modern digital video interface like HDMI clearly ruins the experience! 😉 While it should be possible to use to 2-pin reserved for video composite on the Raspberry Pi Zero to connect to an old TV, PiMod Zero HAT allows you to get back that retro feeling even with TVs lacking RCA composite and audio inputs by broadcasting video over VHF to older NTSC compatible televisions.
PiMod Zero specifications:
- Operating frequency – VHF channels 2 and 3 (55.25 MHz and 61.25 MHz)
- Broadcast format – NTSC
- RF output power – 0.005 mW
- Impedance – 75 Ω
- Supply voltage – 5 V
- Power draw – 100 mW
- Dimensions – pHAT form factor
The expansion board supports both color and B&W video, as well as audio. There were already solutions to achieve the same results, but Isotope Engineering says existing Composite or HDMI RF modulators, and PiMod Zero is more compact, does not require an external power supply, and the design is open-source hardware with KiCad hardware design files available on Github.
You’ll have some assembly and soldering to do, as the PiMod Zero ships with hex standoffs and screws for mounting, a 2-pin header to solder to the composite pins of Raspberry Pi Zero, and a stick. You’ll also need to have a coaxial cable, and possibly a matching transformer if your old TV comes with two screw lugs instead of an F-type connector. I suppose it should be also possible to as using NTSC with ESP8266 using a simple antenna was demonstrated in the past, but this option is not discussed by the developer.
Pimod Zero has just launched on Crowd Supply with a $1 funding target. A $62 pledge is asked for the HAT and accessories. Shipping is free to the US, $15 to the rest of the world, and deliveries scheduled to start at the end of August.