Finally answering the longstanding question, “why on earth would I want a 3D printer?,” Brandon Withrow, who goes by ‘buba447' on Reddit, shared a video of what might be the single greatest reason to learn how to use a 3D printer and a Raspberry Pi: a tiny replica of the Simpsons’ living room TV that plays episodes of The Simpsons.
Withrow is currently working on a more complete guide on how anyone can build their own miniature Simpsons’ TV replica, so if this seems like a must-have addition to your knick-knack-filled desk, you’ll need to be patient until they share a more thorough breakdown. But through Reddit, they’ve already laid out the basic details of how this thing came together. The TV itself was designed and modeled using Autodesk Fusion 360, while an Ender 3 Pro 3D printer was used to create all of the set’s plastic parts.
Given The Simpsons wasn’t produced in high-definition and widescreen until season 20, Withrow was able to stick with a 4:3 screen ratio given that they included only the first 11 seasons of the animated series. A 640x480 TFT display is hidden behind a curved frame making it look like the bulging glass of an old-school CRT, while hidden away inside is a Raspberry Pi Zero with a 32GB microSD used for media storage.
All of the episodes from the first 11 seasons were compressed to fit the size of the screen and the microSD card (animated series like The Simpsons compress to smaller file sizes very well). And when the TV is powered up by connecting it to a USB power source, an episode plays at random and moves on to another random episode every time one finishes. Pressing the top button on the tiny TV turns it off, but it will remember where you left off in an episode when powered back on (assuming you don’t disconnect power altogether) while the second button is actually a dial connected to a potentiometer allowing you to turn the volume up and down by twisting it back and forth.
The build is reminiscent of Basic Fun!’s collectible Tiny TV Classics which are a series of miniature TVs that play short clips from popular TV shows and movies, but having all of the good seasons of The Simpsons on your desk and easily accessible is a huge upgrade. And assuming Withrow stays clear of where to source all that Simpsons content in his upcoming build guide, there’s little reason for Disney to try and shut this wonderful creation down.
Correction, 2:14 p.m. EST/EDT: As Withrow explains on Reddit, the power button doesn’t pause the current episode playing, “...the episodes just constantly play. I wanted a classic ‘always on’ tv experience. The GPIO input only turns the screen on an off.”