90 thoughts on “HackIt: New Uses For Old CRT Monitors

  1. How about a DIY projector? just set the contrast to crazy (may require modding to increase the contrast/brightness enough to be useable) and put a big ‘ol Fresnel lens in front. a little bulky though. (i actually tried that on an old crt viewfinder, small but very low-res.) or you could just gut the control circuitry and make a vector monitor/oscilicope. You could also harvest all the capacitors and make a small emp cannon to ‘test electronic equipment’ (just use an exploding wire in a parabolic reflector)

  2. yeeeah, um, a lot of interesting ideas, and a lot of insanely dangerous ones…

    How about a “how-to” on how not not kill yourself freaking around with old monitors and tvs for starters?

    by the way, the three best projects for old monitors are the spirograph effect, the O-scope mod (essentially the spirograph effect with some circuitry to make it a lot more accurate) and the reversed image mod (great for teleprompters or game cabinets – reverse the image, reflect off a mirror, the greater the distance between the screen and the mirror, the larger the image).

    As far as safety goes: one person mentioned removing the high voltage line from the tube (red line with a suction cup). Please baby jebus dont do this unless you know what you are doing! briefly: unplug monitor (duh) clip a wire to a long flat blade screw driver. Clip other end to the chasis frame of the monitor. slip the blade under and make contact with the connector under the cup. occasionally you may even hear a slight pop.

    I always hear people warn of the large caps on the pcb being dangerous. Yeah, they are large, and can give you a snap. what most people fail to mention, is that the tube is the biggest cap of all! it *will* kill you.

  3. #51, no in most cases. The majority of arcade games sync at 15khz, whereas VGA starts at 30khz (IIRC). Doesn’t work the same way.

    Some arcade games, such as those that run on the NAOMI and AtomisWave motherboards, natively output VGA. You can use those!

    Hey, old CRTs+speakers make for a nice compact game system setup for Dreamcast, 360, etc. But I think we all knew that.

  4. I joked around about it, but MRE is exactly right.

    When I started scrounging as a kid I was given a very specific lecture by my older brother about old TVs and how they can kill even after years of being outdoors in a dump and I never forgot it.

    Anything posted about working with this stuff should include _lots_ of safety-related information as well.

  5. This was posted on the Musical Instrument Makers Forum (MIMF.COM) — discharge all high-voltage components, then extract and use the fine magnet wire inside the transformers and deflection yokes to wind pickups for electric guitars.

  6. Right now rather than going out to buy a HD TV or a new LCD monitor, I picked up a VGA Female-Female adapter from a local PC store and am using it for a HD 360 monitor.

  7. I’ve a couple of dead crt’s that I’ve gutted and turned into bins :-) the perfect thing for a nerd to have in his house.

    Just put the front and back sections back together, add some hooks on the inside if you want it to hold a garbage bag and be very careful with the insides of the monitor.. act as if it’s all going to zap you :-P

  8. Wow, lots of really bad dangerous and wasteful uses!
    Let me add one by suggesting keeping them as-is (maybe with a power cut-off so an unacceptably high quescent draw of 20W doesn’t pollute and impoverish) and using them by sending your own NTSC broadcasts at them; monitors for VHS stuff you haven’t trashed^Wrecycled, sure, but moreover:
    House it high in a corner or center of a room, under cloth dust blinds, where either the front-heavy weight is of some use as >> ballast for a bass speaker

  9. Doh! Monitors; no IrDA, no tuner; use the twisted-pair video Tx/Rx (plus 0-power power-on-when-video-present switching) methods Maxim’s advertising with (and selling via the usual distributors) and add a kenpo-mask kind of thing for the front controls so it’s hardened against mishap.
    It’s fine to use it in winter of course if you need the room temperature kept up. With that in mind, may as well attach a few rowing ropes to opposing walls and wire those up to a 64-bit paint program on a some box; you can then paint violently without feeling as bad about it.
    If you like NO enough, you could power the monitor and some Jacob’s Ladders (n.b.: that air arc gets hot; have a ceramic ceiling!) off the rowing gearboxes. (Then row or do kenpo.)

    Maybe finally sculpt and paint (test compatibility first), dye or antique the cabinet to offer a better matte, comping and facing angles than _| , add light tables to the sides of it, and generally treat it as less deferentially than you did when it was an irreplaceable investment.

    Put a big acrylic block over the front and use it as a video cutting jig.

    This safety stuff kind of kills it given the logo here; just have someone willing to do chest compressions around (100bpm) in case you forget to bleed a capacitor on that 40″ 2300×1900 CRT you were going to shoot up. Maybe you expect something like the mirror scene from Army of Darkness to happen if you get in there and bust things?

  10. Sorry if anone’s posted anything similar, didn’t seen anything. Anyway, you could use them to make holograms, like the following link shows:


    But, what I’m thinking is if you keep the brightness settings normal, get some cheap wood and build a cabinet around it (or convert a suitable cabinet), you’ll have your own retro gaming machine, just need to chuck in a joystick and an old console, or better yet an old pc with loads of emulators on.

  11. Me and my brother built an portible xbox. simely take out the ctr, put in a moderen LCD screen. Simply attack an xbox in the rear, connect (Tight squeeze) then rig up a power supply then boom, portable xbox, perfect for road trips.

  12. Lol…awesome ideas…was well interested in what answers were going to be posted.In my 3rd year studying electronics and computer engineering…already taken on some old computer projects like making old pcs into firewall/spam filter,media server…the likes….
    Put up an advert on my uni site saying stuff about it and if anyone had old electronics they wanted to get rid of….one guy offered an old CRT monitor…Lol…had no idea what to do with it and remembered that it stores high voltage even after its unplug…Lol…go a way to go with life so decided not to mess with old CRT monitors :)…
    But awesome ideas guys…thanks.

  13. You could (carefully) replace part of the front with a thin sheet of metal to create a Lenard Window (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philipp_Lenard ). This allows electrons to escape the tube and be used for some purpose. The tube should carry on functioning, so a video signal could be used to control the beam.

    Of course, cutting a hole in the front of an evacuated glass tube is not an easy task. I was thinking the most straightforward way would be to score the outline onto the glass, attach the metal over it (eg. using some form of epoxy) then tapping the metal to snap the glass where it was scored; the circle falling backwards into the tube. Would take a lot of prior experiments on glass scoring, metal thickness, material adhesion, etc.

    1. I think you’d probably have too much air trapped between the metal and the glass, which would ruin the vacuum inside the tube once you knock the glass out (if you can even do that cleanly). So you’d need to reevacuate the tube after adding the window anyway, in which case you might as well make everything easier for yourself by venting the tube to begin with and not trying to maintain a vacuum while replacing part of the vacuum chamber’s wall.

  14. There are tons of things still in perfect condition inside your CRT. If you disassemble the glass off the front of the monitor and reach in the back you will find that CRT monitor was powered by 12 AA rechargable batteries (reuse them). Look to the left of that and remove the Graphics card. You will find that behind the it is a eee Asus Netbook. If you then remove the back cover of the bulb you will find a portable DVD player. Finally remove the motherboard and you will see that there is a Troll guarding the prized possession of a brand NEW iPhone 4. Enjoy! CRT technology was far too advanced for our fathers’ generation.

  15. Chachee sir, you have -almost- made me vomit from the sheer amount of ridiculousness encountered in your post. Good job. Maybe next time I’ll actually throw up on my Asus Netbook. Then I’ll take your advice and gut up that ol’ russian television from the attic. Who knows what I’ll find. Vacuum tubes maybe… ENIAC will live again.

  16. hi guyz,
    I m stuck with this Crt monitor since last 5 years, I have loads of work i complained to my boss and company manager but none of them takes it serious. they think this dosnt effect my job performance but in actual it does long story short im in need of a LCD to relax my eyes. is there any possible way i can destory my crt without my boss or anyone knowing about it.???

  17. I’d also like to know if turning an old flat-glass Samsung CRT into an all-in-one PC with a small motherboard and an LCD panel would work okay. I’m wondering if a computer and monitor can be run off the same PSU without doing too much electrical work

  18. I made an old crt into an all in one pc, all school hardware, and with what someone said above, about reversing leads to flip image, I could make a projector that isn’t mirrored, slap it on the floor, and wala your ceiling is now a tv

  19. So while this idea is many moons later and not exactly super tehcnical–use them has HDTV displays with a tuner box that outputs vga. There were several boxes like this available for a while that could also use atsc/ntsc signals, so they could be small, hd televisions with some speakers. Great for the poorer people of the world that could never afford HD. Of course, now that 4k is here, this idea doesn’t have as much merit except it keeps working electronics out of landfills.

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