CEEFAX Lives! (Courtesy Of A Raspberry Pi)

As analogue TV slides from memory, there’s a facet of it that’s fondly remembered by a band of enthusiasts. Teletext was an electronic viewdata information service digitally encoded in the frame blanking period, and a TV set with a decoder chip would provide access to many pages of news and other services all displayed in the characteristic brightly colored block graphics. It went the way of the dinosaur with the demise of analog TV, but for [Nathan Dane] the flame is kept alive with his own private version of the BBC’s CEEFAX service.

He has a particular enthusiasm for analog TV, and as such has his own in-house channel served by a UHF modulator. He shares with us the story of how he arrived at a teletext service, before writing code to scrape the BBC news and weather websites and populate his modern-day CEEFAX. Behind it all is a Raspberry Pi, with a vbit-pi board injecting the teletext signal onto the video, and raspi-teletext creating the pages from source material derived from a set of custom scraper scripts.

We like this project a lot, because while it’s not the first Pi teletext system we’ve encountered, the use of a scraped live feed makes it one of the most creative.

Thanks [kwikius] for the tip!

28 thoughts on “CEEFAX Lives! (Courtesy Of A Raspberry Pi)

  1. Very nice, very clever, and took me right back!

    I always admired the Teletext system for the utility they managed to get out of the technology of the era, all as a hack-on to the standard TV signal while remaining compatible with non-teletext TVs.

        1. I forget the name of it, but there was something similar that broadcast web pages in the vbi for a while in the 90s. I had software for one of my wintv tuners that would pick it up off of certain stations. I think PBS was one? I think one of our local CBS stations had some news and weather on it too.

    1. Pretty much got all my information from Teletext from the late 80s until the mid 90s. Saturdays watching the football scores in the afternoon, looking up the news and weather, and TV guides. And the computer game review pages on Channel 4 teletext.

      It got a lot better once TVs came with page caching.

      Site is very authentic, the page generation layer (from the various web sources) is pretty good. Wonder if the output could be piped into a BBC Micro and viewed natively on the teletext mode 7?

    1. Same in Austria! We too have a webpage and app. https://teletext.orf.at/ Very convenient on the TV, but sometimes on the phone too. Even has a bitcoin price tracker since a few weeks. I think we even have the same basemodel for our receiver from our cable provider (Horizon/T-Mobile/UPC) as you guys

      1. mentioned for historical/geographic reasons:
        “Captain system was a Japanese videotex system created by NTT [telecom]. Announced in 1978, it was trialled from 1979 to 1981”
        I’ve got VTXforMac 1.1.1 ©1996 NTT working on a Macintosh here now. Their full machine is called the NTT CAPTAIN Multi-Station (MSX-based).

  2. There was no technical reason why teletext should have been shut off with analog TV. It still survives in Germany, even on the HD channels. They even broadcast subtitles in both teletext and DVB forms. If you want to click and play, try this link to the internet version which offers a little simulator.


    1. Yes this is exactly why I miss “old” Teletext in the UK.

      In the article link each headline takes up two lines. In original teletext this was never the case – each headline had one line (which included the page number).

  3. I just love the 8 bit colors lol

    Black #000000 , Red #FF0000 , Green #00FF00 , Yellow #FFFF00 , Blue #0000FF , Magenta #FF00FF , Cyan #00FFFF , White #FFFFFF

    But there’s only 3 bits lol, Reminds me of the Galaxian Arcade game.

  4. A couple of small corrections, it’s Nathan’s private code that creates the pages for the service from scraped data, and vbit2 which turns those pages into a live datastream (https://github.com/peterkvt80/vbit2).

    raspi-teletext is a software solution for injecting the signal in the vertical blanking interval, but that’s not needed in Nathan’s home setup since he has the hardware solution instead.

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