The days of cathode ray tubes, or CRTs, are firmly behind us, and that’s generally a good thing. Display tubes were heavy, bulky and fragile, and needed complicated high-voltage electronics in order to work. But not all of them were actually large: miniature display tubes were also produced, for things like camcorder viewfinders, and [Tavis] from Sideburn Studios decided to turn one of those into a slightly creepy art project.
The heart of this build is a one-inch CRT that was salvaged from an RCA video camera. [Tavis] mounted the tiny tube inside an acrylic box on a 3D printed base. Inside that base sits a Raspberry Pi along with a high-voltage driver and a power management board. The Pi continuously plays a video that shows a human eye blinking and looking in various directions. Just an eye, floating in space, looking at the world around it.
The magic is briefly lost when the Pi starts up, because it then shows a microscopic version of the Pi’s standard bootup sequence, but once the thing is running it adds a weird vibe to a room. It actually looks like something you’d find in an avant-garde art exhibition — in the video (embedded below) it’s accompanied by eerie music that gives it an even more unsettling feel. Electronic eyes are always a bit scary, especially when they’re actually looking at you.
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Since its debut back in 2012 there have been a variety of inventive displays used with the Raspberry Pi. Perhaps you remember the repurposed Motorola phone docks, or you have one of those little displays that plugs into the expansion port. Inevitably the smaller options become disappointing as desktop displays, because while the advert triumphantly shows them sporting a Raspberry Pi OS desktop the reality is almost unusable. Until now.
Along comes [igbit] with a solution in the form of a little SPI display with a different approach to displaying a desktop. Instead of displaying a matchbox-sized desktop over the whole screen it divides into two halves. At the top is a representation of the desktop, while below it is a close-up on the area around the mouse pointer.
Unexpectedly its mode of operation is very accessible to the non-Linux guru, because it works through a Python script that takes screenshots of both areas and passes them as a composite to the display. An area the size of the magnified window is drawn around the mouse pointer, allowing it to be easily located on the tiny desktop. It relies on the main display being pushed to the HDMI output, so if the Pi is otherwise headless then its configuration has to be such that it forces HDMI use. The result isn’t something that would help you with the more demanding desktop tasks, but it provides a neat solution to being able to use a Pi desktop on a tiny screen.
Of course, in a pinch you can always use your mobile phone.