View-Master Video Player!

view master 3d video player

[Alec] just sent us this great project he’s been working on. Converting an antique View-Master from the early 50’s into a modern 3D video player, capable of reading Mini-CDs.

Most View-Masters don’t have much space for tinkering, let alone adding a Raspberry Pi, two displays and a CD drive, so [Alec] really lucked out when he found this model — complete with light and D-cell battery pack. Tons of space! He originally looked into getting some cheap digital photo frame LCDs from China, but soon realized the effort involved with making those work just wouldn’t be worth it, so instead he picked up some 0.9″ OLED displays from Adafruit. He still forgot to check if they had drivers for the Raspberry Pi though, and ended up on another detour of modifying FBTFT drivers to make it all work.

After that headache he got to the fun part — cramming all the hardware inside. He picked up a cheap laptop CD drive off of eBay, and discovered that using the 80MM Mini-CD standard, the discs would just fit inside of the View-Master, sticking out just a little bit, kind of like the original photo wheels!

Quite a bit of fiddling later, he managed to assemble the entire thing in layers, without damaging the external shell of the View-Master. Since it is an antique, it was important for him that his hack be reversible — and for the most part, it is! Stick around after the break to see a short video explanation!

18 thoughts on “View-Master Video Player!

  1. I second that, there are a few of them at each car boot sale I go to.

    On the flip side, those large beasties with the lenses can be upcycled into poor man’s digital picture frames using an old DS screen or similar.
    I’ve been saving all the dead phones with intact panels and so far the largest is a 1st gen smartphone with about a 2″ diagonal screen.

    Another source for small screens is broken camcorders.

    1. Yeah, I hate that. I wish there was a YouTube preference that disabled all those ‘lol we converted this 2D video to fake 3D for no apparent reason!’ videos…

      I also wish YouTube would share the tech they use to take any type of stereoscopic video uploaded and output it using any other method as well as all types of anaglyph with or without color correction and allow you to swap eyes on the fly and other stuff.

      Because I have yet to find any decent stereo media player that supports formats people actually use like .mkv and will output yellow/blue anaglyph. :(

      1. Hey just wanted to let you know (Stereoscopic Player) lets you do pretty well everything you want and plays almost all formats
        also this is a great hack wish I had the skills to make one of these myself

        1. Wow, I don’t know how my searches didn’t turn that up… Closest I ever found was a nifty little freeware app some Japanese guy made to go with his stereoscopic image authoring/viewing tool. That does look pretty good, thanks for the tip.

          I just tried it out though, and– aside from it costing fifty bucks for a license without unlimited updates, which already doesn’t particularly enthuse me –it seems that its only method of dealing with fixing the aspect ratio of Half-SBS video, is to cut the height of the resultant output in half, too… (BEFORE scaling it up to full-screen!) Giving you just 540 lines of resolution out of a 1080p video.

          Anyway, thanks, I’ll keep an eye on that, maybe shoot them an email about a reduce/enlarge option for the video scaling or something.

      2. John, recent versions of mplayer/mencoder include a video filter called stereo3d that will convert between 3d encodings; ffmpeg can use mplayer filters so you can invoke it from there as well. I don’t doubt that Youtube is using this toolset behind the scenes. FOSS FTW!

        1. Also on linux there’s a player called “Bino” that can convert many forms of (H)SBS/Interlaced/Top-Bottom Videos/Still images to many different kinds of anaglyph (Red Cyan, Magenta Green, Blue Amber) etc.

    1. It’s possible, though you’ll probably find yourself having to solder ribbon cables, which takes a steadier hand than I’ve got. It’s also tricky in my experience to find two matching parts. And then you need documentation to write up a driver. In the end, the Adafruit parts were an easy solution for me, and not actually much more expensive than the scrounging route, when you factor in the details — though I salute anyone determined enough to scrounge, as I love the ethic!

  2. Awesome build! Here’s a possible variant that would allow it to be smaller… Instead of the CD drive – keep the original disk mechanism, replace each image on a viewmaster disk with micro SD cards – click to advance a card to line up the pins of a SD card reader. Voila! You have gigabytes of videos available using much less space and keeping much of the Viewmaster feel and function.

  3. Nice hack. I was impressed he got everything to fit in there. While the video was playing, I was thinking, “cool, but instead of showing video he should use an SD card and a slideshow program that actually showed 3D pictures.” AND THEN he says that the video is in 3D……SWEEET!!!

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