As with any other community, the interests of makers can’t be easily explained through cold logic and rationality. A modern OLED display is better in every conceivable way than the displays of the past, and yet Nixie tubes remain incredibly popular with makers. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, or maybe there is some other intangible factor at play, but we seem to be drawn to outdated and impractical technology. That’s proven in the music video for Zacharias Zachrisson’s song Shadow, which features a wall of tube TVs built by Johanna Tano and powered by Raspberry Pis.
We feature many Raspberry Pi-based projects on the Hackster blog because they’re extremely versatile. Tano herself has used them in a variety of engaging art projects, and they were the perfect tool for this job too. Most of the Raspberry Pi models include a very convenient composite video output, which you can use to send an analog video signal to old CRT television sets. That’s simple enough if you want to just show a video on a single TV, but it gets much more complicated for a project like this that has multiple TVs going at the same time.
If you watch the music video, you’ll see that some of the TVs are showing complete videos feeds, while others have the same video feed split among them. To achieve that effect, every TV had its own Raspberry Pi connected. Working behind the scenes, Tano used a separate computer to split up and crop the video, then send the parts to the corresponding TVs. That can also be adjusted on the fly to change the look and feel of the TV wall. This project is no small feat, but the music video proves that Tano’s efforts were worth the work.