Ceefax from an previous Raspberry Pi

Obtained an previous Raspberry Pi? Nostalgic for the golden age of teletext? Why not make your individual in-house teletext server?

For many who could also be unaware, teletext was a service frequent in European (PAL TV customary) nations that transmitted information and different data on analogue TV by sending digital indicators in unused strains on the prime of the TV display that have been usually unseen. The BBC’s teletext service was referred to as Ceefax, the ITV had Oracle. Pre-smartphones and family broadband, each have been massively common as a supply of breaking information, sports activities outcomes, reserving holidays and watching programmes with subtitles (closed captions). Most teletext companies are long-gone, however fans are doing digital archaeology to get well previous pages from off-air S-VHS recordings, in addition to creating new teletext companies you entry over the web.

Right here’s what you want:

  • Any previous Pi, I used a mannequin B, I’d suggest a ‘lite’ model of Raspberry Pi OS with no desktop and I added a USB wifi dongle – not wanted on newer fashions
  • A phono/RCA lead for video out
  • Non-compulsory mini jack to phono lead for audio
  • A TV with a teletext decoder and a composite video AV enter
  • Some web

The TV I used is an inexpensive flat-screen one I purchased in a grocery store only a few years in the past, so I used to be shocked to find it had a teletext decoder. The decoder has by no means been used, clearly, as analogue TV transmissions ended within the UK earlier than I purchased it and no Freeview DTV companies broadcast old style steam teletext.

Ceefax page 100

The software program it is advisable to set up is known as vbit2 – head on over to https://github.com/peterkvt80/vbit2/wiki the place you’ll discover some directions. I adopted the first video guide linked from there.

I had issues getting analogue composite PAL video out as a result of I forgot to unplug the HDMI cable to power it. Word that some fashions of Pi have the composite video on the identical jack because the analogue audio out, so in case your Pi doesn’t have that phono/RCA socket for video, you’ll want a lead that breaks out a type of additional lengthy 2.5mm 4 pole jack plugs into one thing you may plug into your TV.

I put in Ceefax within the configuration settings in vbit2. It’s a good suggestion to set it to run at boot and replace – word that to tick the related packing containers it's important to press the house bar. Took me ages to determine that out!

The TV I used has a USB socket for a fundamental media participant mode and I discovered that gave sufficient juice to energy my Pi, which saves one other mains socket and takes the Raspberry Pi energy provide out of the equation.

When the teletext service begins it is best to see the textual content on the display bounce up a bit. I feel it is because it’s utilizing the highest line of the video to output the teletext strains and it wants to maneuver it to the highest strains which are usually unseen on a composite video out.

I fancied some music whereas looking teletext, so I additionally put in mpc / mpd
sudo apt-get set up mpc mpd

and added a radio station
mpc add http://icecast.radiofrance.fr/fip-midfi.mp3

and made it play – this appears to stay and play when rebooted which is good.
mpc play 1

Join the audio and composite video to your TV, choose the suitable AV enter – and press the teletext button!

Ceefax weather map

The Ceefax pages are created by volunteer-coded software program from a mix of sources, together with BBC Information internet pages and the Met Workplace for the climate. It’s nice enjoyable having the ability to browse up-to-date information tales by urgent numbers on a distant management like within the previous days, and makes a welcome change from Twitter doomscrolling. If something it’s barely too quick, besides it might make a helpful historical past challenge exhibiting college students how we used to get up-to-date information and sports activities outcomes earlier than smartphones and widespread broadband web.

Raspberry Pi generating teletext

You'll be able to view the brand new Ceefax pages in your browser on Nathan Dane’s pages right here https://www.nathanmediaservices.co.uk/teletext-viewer/ and discover out a bit extra about how they work. Kudos additionally to Peter Kwan, designer of the primary vbit hardware and software.

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