CRT art: Wobbulator

The Wobbulator is a black and white CRT television that has additional hardware to manipulate the electrons as they bombard the phosphor layer of the screen. It was created by [June Paik] and you can find it at The Experimental Television Center. [Blair Neal] took some time to share the background information and some video on this interesting device.

The television has a second ”yoke” of coils around the ray tube. The TV still functions normally with these coils installed, but running a signal through them can further manipulate the picture. Hook, them up to a function generator and you can get some pretty wild effects. In this case, the signals from a sound generator are controlling the coils, resulting in the audio/video artwork which you can view after the break.

Comments

  1. Fallen says:

    Very cool!

  2. leadacid says:

    Neat! I do wonder about the tube’s phosphor life though, since the original video signal has the potential for a full strength signal (that would normally be spread across the full screen) concentrated in one spot by the secondary coils. Kinda like how I was always warned to avoid strong concentrated stationary signals on oscilloscopes. Mind, CRTs are a dime a dozen these days so it’s likely not that important.

  3. Juan Cubillo says:

    It’s been a while since HaD posted something this freaking cool. Thumbs up on this one. No purpose at all… just amazingly simple and elegant.

  4. karl says:

    Shades of the “Outer Limits” opening credits.

  5. BLuRry says:

    Wonder if this qualifies for a Wile demo compo entry? ;-)

  6. BLuRry says:

    grr… typo… meant to say “Wild”

  7. woutervddn says:

    And I was thinking they used vector images to make cool backgrounds…

  8. Erik Johnson says:

    Haha, I remember back in 1952 we all used to do this.

  9. poot says:

    Nice…old school hacking

  10. Truthhertz says:

    As a matter of historical interest… there is actually a real piece of test equipment called a “wobulator.” What it amounts to is a sweep generator, and was used to align filters and tuned circuits.

    One way to achieve “wobulation” (my term) was to couple the shaft of a variable capacitor to the shaft of a motor. The capacitor was wired to the tank circuit of an oscillator.

  11. echodelta says:

    I hacked a TV into an oscilloscope in 1970. On the way I hooked up a half video horizontal and half vertical audio combination. I also wired the vertical coils out of phase resulting in the X display of live TV, as seen in one of the videos. A crude synth I made a couple of years later made some really cool vector patterns. I watched brightness and never burned a tube.

  12. Hirudinea says:

    “We control the horizontal, we control the vertical…”, neat hack, shame you didn’t post it a few weeks ago, it would have been perfect in a “Mad Scientists Lab” Haunted House.

  13. Dr. West says:

    This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

  14. beaglebreath says:

    As a matter of metrological interest… there is actually a real piece of test equipment called a “wobulator.” What it amounts to is an off-axis rotating table and was used to calibrate accelerometers and vibration test equipment.

  15. AussieTech says:

    @leadacid
    You need a kind of analogue spot-killer; rectify some of the X and Y signals and use it to overcome close-to-cutoff bias on the tube grid – automatic brightness control.

    @Truthhertz
    The term Wobbulator comes from “Wobbling Oscillator” and these are still in use for aligning IF strips and other bandpass
    circuits, generally in the high-kHz to MHz range. By convention a Wobbulator differs from other tools like sweep generators in that the swept range is very confined, and it may have fixed output frequencies on common IF’s.

    e.g.

    http://www.qsl.net/va3iul/Wobbulator/Wobbulator_for_Filter_Charatcerization.htm

    This hack is not a Wobbulator but it is a pretty neat idea that deserves its own descriptive name “Raster Maniuplation Unit ” or RMU for short.

    Get seriously into it here…

    http://www.experimentaltvcenter.org/history/tools/ttool.php3?id=28&page=1

  16. emilio says:

    Nam June Paik’s stuff is super awesome. i had the pleasure of seeing a show of his quite a while ago (10 years?). most of his sculptures there used a CRT in some way, as well as some neat stuff with mini video projectors and mini CRTs. they dealt with the flow of information, active and passive media viewing, and what our expectations of mass media are.

    if Marshall McLuhan were a sculptor, he’d be Nam June Paik.

  17. Nick says:

    Nice! I did an artist residency at the Experimental Television Center last year, and played with this very same Wobbulator for hours.

    If anyone else reading HAD is an artist with an interest in older technology, ETCenter is a true wonderland. They invite you to stay all by yourself in a very large room with nothing but AV equipment and a bed in the corner.

  18. Kuba says:

    it would be cool to take screens at very fast intervals and map them in an z axis to map it in 3d

  19. Gert says:

    Very very nice hack. Cathode Ray Tubes have become obsolete tech in the eyes of the normal consumer.

    But it still is such a nice tech and easy to manipulate. It’s the perfect thing to teach kids about magnetic fields and how to manipulate them. It translates the invisible into something visible.

    Just too bad it’s so bulky, and a bit dangerous (implosion risk).

  20. zeropointmodule says:

    someone should try this with an old laptop display- capture the LVDS traffic for a coloured background from the old machine and store it then play back using a micro and serial E2PROM with high speed RAM buffer chips such as the 23K640.

    should be cool, just shift data around (or change the readback order) on the colour data while leaving the timing intact.

    a little tip, AA1 screens are relatively simple and have fewer LVDS lines so making things easier, as long as a serial e2prom with screen data is connected on the PC side interface to fool the laptop into outputting data no matter what is connected.

  21. Prospero says:

    Does anyone know which track is playing in this video ? It’s friggin’ awesome :D

  22. Dan says:

    LOVE Hammock. Totally made the video that much better.

  23. jim says:

    Genius :3

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94,593 other followers