Bring Saturday Mornings Back To Life With This Cartoon Server

It was an American ritual for over four decades: wake up early on Saturday morning, prepare a bowl of sugar, and occupy the couch for four glorious hours of cartoons. The only interruptions came when the least-significant sibling had to be commanded to get up to change the channel to one of the two other networks, or when your mom decided to vacuum the TV room. It was a beautiful ritual, but now it’s gone.

Or is it? If you really want to recapture your misspent youth, you can try this Raspberry Pi multi-channel cartoon server with retro TV display. [FozzTexx] started with a yard sale 13″ Zenith set, which languished in his shop for want of a mission. When he found a four-channel video modulator, he knew he had the makings of the full channel-changing Saturday morning experience.

Four Raspberry Pis were configured to serve up four separate streams of cartoons from his Plex server, and after a late Friday night of hacking the whole thing together, each stream was ready to go live at 7:00 AM on Saturday. [FozzTexx] thought of everything — from the pre-“broadcast day” test pattern to actual commercials spliced into the cartoons to the static between the channels, it’s all there in low-definition glory. He even printed up faux TV Guide pages! You can watch a brief demo on [FozzTexx]’ Twitter feed, or you can watch the entire 2-hour Periscope feed if you’re feeling nostalgic.

[FozzTexx] chose UHF channels for his “stations,” so if you want to replicate this build it may pay to bone up on analog TV tuner basics. Or if it’s just the retro look you’re going for, this custom case inspired by a 40s TV might be nice to check out.

28 thoughts on “Bring Saturday Mornings Back To Life With This Cartoon Server

        1. …and those that protest the significant other’s interruption with ‘The Look’, quickly find themselves longing for the balmy warmth of liquid nitrogen, and learn the hardest way possible that you can NEVER outdo a woman when it comes to ‘The Look’.

  1. Your kids are not going to appreciate the nostalgia.

    We cut the cord long before my daughter was born, she’s only ever known Netflix. The first time she was exposed to cable TV during a hospital visit was interesting:

    “Daddy, why do they keep interrupting the cartoon?”
    “What’s a commercial?”
    “How do you change to another cartoon? Where’s the menu?”
    “what do you mean change the channel, what’s a channel?”
    “How do you pause it? I have to use the bathroom”


      1. You realise you’ve become so used to adverts you’re no longer noticing just how intrusive they are?

        That kid is from a generation that skips or blocks ads, and doesn’t accept their experience being degraded for advertising. I call that progress.

        1. Impressive… obviously you haven’t used the internet… ever. “Intrusive” advertisements used to be relegated to few-minute-long bursts, every 15 or so minutes, which were perfect time for bathroom-breaks and snack-breaks. Easy to mute, or even check up on other stations. And when you went to the library, dictionary, thesaurus, or an encyclopedia, when you made a phone-call, or read a letter, when you looked up a schematic, or even watched a movie, you didn’t have to look at (nor choose not to look at) even one advertisement, intrusive or otherwise. When you listened to your CD-collection, or put your iPod on random… And you didn’t even have to pay monthly-fees for the privilege.
          You call *this* era progress?

    1. Yeahhh… something has been lost with kids getting excited about getting up early and watching cartoons in a particular order, and seeing the cool adverts for toys you really really really wanted and so on.

      But that is progress..!

      *goes back to playing Doom on his 486*

      1. I don’t think anyone is suggesting it was as cause, but rather an indication. Television itself, on the other hand was a factor in the transition from active to passive leisure, and this did cause a major shift in our culture as a whole.

        1. Yup. …and with the introduction of the ultimate gateway drug, Western society was doomed. (Think about it for a minute; how many people do you know who constantly binged on TV/movies/etc. that ended up addicted to something and didn’t live up to their potential? When your parents turned off the tv before your show was finished, did you act rationally or emotionally? Hmmm…)

  2. Migrating to Netflix has taught me that it’s… boring. It’s a lot of work trying to figure out what to watch next too.

    I kind of like having random things showing on TV, that hey, you either watch it, or you don’t. It teaches they hey, you can’t save everything for later, this movie might not come on for another month, or another couple of years! It teaches patience too. Because you know you’ve only got what you’ve got. It teaches the ability to tune out “noise” (Those commercials) And you end up watching things, that maybe you would not have watched otherwise. Sometimes to your great benefit.

  3. Wow when the video started and i saw his movement in the tv i had to look behind me. when you see a reflection in the tv screen. ah brings me back.

    funny, the last couple saturdays i’ve turned on cartoons and ate cereal. netflix has cartoons!

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