TV Retrofit… Because Flatscreens Just Don’t Take Up Enough Space

[Igor] helped his friend’s family out by retrofitting an old Philco television with a newer flat panel (translated). The original conked out over thirty years ago, but the look of it still held quite a bit of nostalgia for his girlfriend’s Grandmother. She showed it to him on a recent visit and asked if it could be restored. He told her that it would most likely never work again, but that he could use modern components to replace the screen, while preserving the case itself.

The best thing about old hardware like this is that you can actually get the case apart fairly easily. After removing the tube and electronics he traced a pattern of the opening that he could take along to the electronics store to find a TV which would fill the opening. With the new screen in hand he found that using the threaded holes intended for VESA mounting brackets made it simple to install in the old case. A steel bar bolts onto the plate which he cut and drilled to match the TV’s hole pattern. Now Grandma is happy to have the retro-looking case with a modern high-def picture.

32 thoughts on “TV Retrofit… Because Flatscreens Just Don’t Take Up Enough Space

  1. Huh, considering how much work he did (he completely rebuilt the front opening!) I’m surprised he allows the flat panel’s bezel to show through. I would have tried to cover it up, but maybe he didn’t want to open up the new TV to access its buttons and IR receiver.

  2. Sacrilege. I work at a museum which has TV’s dating back as old TV itself. We’ve got a original Baird televisor, in working condition. The only working model in Scotland AFAIA.
    Old TV’s and radio’s come in all the time. It’s very rare that they can’t be made to work.

    1. With digital TV now, you will need to convert the signal first to analogue,
      then the frequency from UHF to VHF and number of lines from 625 (or 576 line digital) to 405 lines.
      We once owned the first colour TV, as my Granddad made one using a cathoray tube from an old radior dish display at the end of WW2.
      So the picture was in Black and Green and not Black and White.
      Between programs back then they showed some fish in a fish tank. It looked better in black and green than black and white.

    2. Hi,

      The screen was broken and have no way to fix it.

      They family tryed to fix it. They asked for a lot of specialized companies that cannot fix it.

      I think too that make the original ones working was the best think to do, but it was “impossible”.

  3. +1 hack: Add a microcontroller to pick signals from the original switches and dial and generate ir signals to command the tv, so the wooden frame can now hide the buttons, only a small orifice is needed to use a remote control

  4. @Alex: Remember, though, that the original would have been 4:3 and all new models are wide format. Had the replacement screen been expanded to fill the original screen area, a decent percentage of the picture would be cut off on the left and right.

    The IR issue, however, could have been solved by desoldering the receiver and extending it to an existing hole in the case (perhaps the speaker grille). I guess buttons would be a bit more difficult. A rotary encoder behind the original dials would be neat.

  5. As someone else noted, there are people who restore these things (for real) and they aren’t full of mystery electronics which can’t be fixed. But let’s be honest, folks, no one wants to run one of these old tube TVs.

    I hope at least the original parts were made available to others (ebay, etc) for recycling. Even the “non-working” parts have value to the restoration and die-hards.

    If Igor sees this, I too agree with the other poster — hide the LG bezel somehow. It is pretty common for people to hide some electronics out of view, using infrared LED “extenders”. Those same extenders would allow you to hide the cable box inside the TV case itself.

    1. Hi,

      All old parts was donate to a company that recicle and try to restore other electronics.

      We will put the Set Top Box inside the wood box. So we can control all system with Arduino and the original controls.

  6. An interesting story, build, build documentation. Not sacrilege, just practical. Most who want the visual aesthetics of old appliance don’t want a museum piece, and probably desire the features of the modern TV set. I admit when I read it may not be repairable, I thought yes maybe it is. But at what cost in what time frame, and your left with an old B&W TV that might need repairs the next month, if not next week. No doubt the lower part of the new TV was left exposed for access, but building a fold down panel could have been done, as work was done in that area anyway.

  7. I’ve worked on some flat-panel tvs that people have given me as “broken”, it’s not that hard even. I was fortunate they’ve all been power supply issues so far though. Putting the LCDs into an old TV cabinet would be pretty handy. You could easily extend the IR sensor and buttons to the donor cabinet. There’d also be all kinds of room behind the screen to put stuff like a mini-itx computer. Build a MythTV in the tv!

  8. All my TV’s have a 4:3 setting that shows the image in the center of the screen with black bars on the left&right sides. So the flat TV could have been a little larger and switched to 4:3 by default (I don’t know exactly if a larger TV would fit without removing the case).
    Another option would have been to adjust the screen aperture to a 16:9 format instead the original 4:3.
    But if we ignore the LG logo and blue light, I absolutely love the build! He could even fit a miniATX computer board and have the granny play some games or search for knitting patterns on the ‘net :)

  9. You can either set the screen to 4:3 or just deal with the lost portion of the image. It’s not all the action is in those one inch borders.

    One thing, tho. To avoid the microwave oven look, I would been temped to saw the back off the tube.

  10. Concerning the Remote there are 2 points to consider:

    1. TV this old in most cases don’t have a remote.

    2. If its a “newer” one it has a cable remote or an ultrasonic remote. IR Remote came later.

  11. What would have been extremely interesting is; make a vacuum molded front from acrylics to imitate the shape of the picture tube, then fill it with clear acrylic resin to form a big plastic lens. Then mount the panel at the back of it.

  12. Mods like this are starting to make me feel sick. Obviously a lot of work and effort went into this, and I would hate to bash his work because it is pretty nice. It is just the destruction of historical pieces…it makes me sick. It is bad enough when people hack up old tables and such, ruining all value and history in the process…but to do a mod like this where you know all of your upgrades will be pointless and unwanted within a decade…it boggles the mind. I almost hacked up my IBM personal portable computer to make a lanparty rig…and I am very glad I didn’t. It would be nothing but a worthless piece of junk now, instead of a $800+ collectors item.

    At least he didn’t do it to a Predicta.

    1. Guys, you have to remember that these TVs were mass produced in large numbers. They’re not one-off works of art, and they aren’t even particularly rare as mass produced electronics go.

      And in any case, people value different things. Some people buy an antique rifle and put it in a display case. These people are horrified at suggestions of taking it to the range and shooting it: how could you destroy history?!

      Some people buy an antique rifle and take it to the range and shoot it, even if it takes some modifying to make it safe to fire, even if only some part of the weapon’s essence is preserved. These people are horrified at suggestions of putting it in a display case: how could you insult the creators of such an ingenuous device by letting their creation languish on a shelf?

      In the end, it’s all subjective. We’re talking about an old woman here. Has she not earned the right to surround herself with things that remind her of her past?

  13. I restore things from time to time, but lets face it–televisions of this era are trashcanned regularly to this very day. Every estate sale in my area seems to have one of these monsters with a “free!” or “make offer” sign on them (if they haven’t been tipped into the construction-sized dumpster already) Not too long ago, I saved a heavy mahogany(!wooden! you understand)cabinet from a ROUNDSCREEN Zenith made for a huge picture tube (probably *still* not useful for an lcd conversion, because of the aspect ratio thing cited) Chassis–nowhere in sight. I also have an early ’50s GE case from the same trashpick (there were twenty various of them out at the curb). I grew up with crank-knob, b&w tv’s, so I don’t have the level of nostalgia that some of the youngsters have for these things. Bless ’em, though. At our old radio club meet in Nashville TN, televisions like this often go begging. One day soon, people won’t be able to find them anymore. Turn of the wheel.

    1. The smaller sizes had the more conservative angle. They used 120 degree in the table sized models. Less than one foot (.2m) for the small sizes. They’re still around in cheap security cam and monitor sets.

  14. I’ve wanted to do this with a vintage set, but in my case I think I’d keep it for a long time. I collect old monster/sci-fi/mystery movies from the 1930s-1960s and watching b&w movies (in their original 4:3) on an old set with a flat screen inside would be awesome! It would be simple to add new speakers, too.

  15. Same here, Oh, and for those folks who have to preserve the “retro” look I have a cunning plan to hack a curved screen TV so it curves the other way. Actually feasible too, redesigned backlight and can make use of other folks junk where the stupid LED backlight has crapped out (again!!!!!!) Trick is to invert picture and colors using a Pi 3.

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