Before the proliferation of high-quality digital cameras, everyone was stuck using good old fashioned film. Film cameras didn’t have any provisions for viewing the pictures you took, and most people didn’t know how their photos had turned out until they got them developed. Professionals, however, would use simple analog film viewers to check out their photos before hand. Now, thanks to guide from Martin Burlus, you can convert a vintage film viewer into a RetroPie console and display.
Film viewers are extremely simple devices, and usually just have a magnifying lens and a back light mounted inside of a sturdy enclosure. Because they’re mostly obsolete today, you can find used models for sale for next to nothing. But they have a very classy appearance that makes them great for DIY projects like this. All you’re really doing is placing a small screen at the right focal point for the magnifying lens. That makes it look like you’re looking at the video game on a small CRT display.
As Burlus explains, the build process is straightforward. Start by disassembling the film viewer, and remove the projector light. Then connect a 2.8″ TFT display to a Raspberry Pi Zero’s header pins. If you like, you can wire the Raspberry Pi’s power supply through the original power switch. Then just place the screen in the right position so that it fills up the whole lens, and be sure to use electrical tape to insulate the Raspberry Pi from shorts. Finally, add a USB hub and put the film viewer back together. Now you’ve got a RetroPie console in an awesome vintage case that doubles as a display!