Some baller used a Raspberry Pi to play YouTube on the Commodore PET

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Who knew it was possible to play YouTube videos on a Commodore PET? The PET might be a 40 year old PC with not much modern-day grunt behind it, but it still has some use for consuming today’s media. Thorbjörn Jemander (opens in new tab) has proven so, and the results are utterly stunning.

This amazing modder used a Raspberry Pi Zero, with its built in Wi-Fi, to convert OpenCV images into “ready to use character screens that the Pet can display.” Essentially it ends up looking like some matrix dreamland simulacrum and its totally badass.

While the video goes into a lot of detail that might seem overwhelming, the basic steps the Raspberry Pi takes to create such a cool image are simple:

  • First it scales and decolorizes the YouTube video
  • The grayscale images are then replaced with a black and white dot pattern
  • And finally the dot pattern is mapped onto the PET character set

Thorbjörn holds a power cable over their creation.

(Image credit: Thorbjörn Jemander)

The process involves a lot of mathematics, including the use of the Temporal Floyd-Steinberg Dithering process. All that honestly goes straight over my head, but it looks like it paid off. The end result is even displayed at 30fps.

Some mistakes were made, as the modder admits, such as the placement of the LEDs, and a signal being connected to the wrong pin, but the biggest fumble was the orientation of the Pi connector being wrong by 180 degrees.

It took Thorbjörn three good weeks to get all the issues fixed up, but as they say, “by the magic of filmmaking, it was done in the blink of an eye.”

If you were the lucky purchaser of something like this Commodore 65 prototype (opens in new tab), and have a hankering for uniting the ancient and the trendy, why not give it a go yourself?