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Cyclops has been around for a while. I don't know who originally set it up (Widget says it was probably User:Xymax), but it was there when I started hanging out in early/middle 2016. It is the shell of a CCTV camera mounted outside the door of Resistor in the stairwell. The camera and other internals have been removed and replaced with a Raspberry Pi 1 model A connected to a QVGA LCD monitor. It was originally set up to show a close-up still image of an eye, so that it watches you instead of watching you.

Sometime early in 2019 some bits rotted, and it stopped booting correctly and would only show an error message. I couldn't read much of it, but picked out the words "mount" and "fail". It has been one of my favorite installations in the space, so I decided to repair it. I've attempted to put notes together below so that others know how to fix/recreate/modify it. I don't know how it was implemented before, but now it's Raspbian running a close-up video of an eye in VLC Player on infinite repeat.

Get a video[edit]

You'll need a video that is in 480p resolution. If your video is already available in that format, great. If not, you can use a transcoder to resize the video (I ended up using a random website). Save your video as "eye.mp4" (you can use whatever filename you want, but the instructions below assume this name--remember to modify file paths where needed).

Set up the OS[edit]

Install Raspbian (btw, I made the password "clubmate", in case you're changing something and you need it), boot the Pi and copy the video file to the desktop (scp, thumb drive, whatever works for you--the Pi 1 doesn't have wifi, so you'll have to plug the ethernet cable in if you want to download anything directly from the web). Same caveat as above--if you put it somewhere else remember to modify the commands that point to it.

Enable composite video[edit]

The Pi has had a small screen soldered into the composite video plug. To enable it:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Add or uncomment a line that says:


This enables the composite video-out signal (the yellow coax plug). Save and exit. Now, if you unplug the HDMI monitor and reboot the pi, it will display on the little LCD screen. To get the regular monitor back, plug the HDMI cable back in and reboot. Further reading: a blog on how to do this and a general reference on Raspberry Pi configs

Add a boot script[edit]

By default, Raspbian uses the LXDE desktop environment, which has autostart faculties built in. To edit them:

sudo nano /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart

Add the following line before the line that starts with @xscreensaver (if you put it after the xscreensaver command, it won't work reliably):

@vlc --fullscreen --repeat file:///home/pi/Desktop/eye.mp4

Note: it's very difficult to exit VLC Player when it is launched with both --fullscreen and --repeat. Leave one or the other out until things are working correctly.

Be finished[edit]

That's it! Given that I didn't need to [re]solder anything, it's pretty straight-forward. Happy hacking!