Turning A Tiny CRT Into A Monitor


[GK] picked up a few tiny 2″ CRTs a while back and for the longest time they’ve been sitting in a box somewhere in the lab. The itch to build something with these old tubes has finally been scratched, with a beautiful circuit with Manhattan style construction.

[GK] has a bit of a fetish for old oscilloscopes, and since he’s using an old ‘scope tube, the design was rather simple for him; there aren’t any schematics here, just what he could put together off the top of his head.

Still, some of [GK]’s earlier projects helped him along the way in turning this CRT into a monitor. The high voltage came from a variable output PSU he had originally designed for photomultiplier tubes. Since this is a monochrome display, the chrominance was discarded with an old Sony Y/C module found in a part drawer.

It’s a great piece of work that, in the words of someone we highly respect is, “worth more than a gazillion lame Hackaday posts where someone connected an Arduino to something, or left a breadboard in a supposedly “finished” project.” Love ya, [Mike].


18 thoughts on “Turning A Tiny CRT Into A Monitor

    1. His name’s Mark Something. He started in British TV doing the awful, cheap, really abominable house-makeover shows that were everywhere in the mid-1990s. Since then he’s had proper jobs where he’s made, a car, a motorbike, an aeroplane, and a helicopter! The last 2 were from kits. I think the first 2 involved using existing bits.

      The series where he builds a helicopter from not much more than rods and tubes, nuts and bolts, in what looks like a large domestic garage, is great, especially when he flies it at the end. Definitely worth watching. “A X is born”, with X being the vehicle in question.

        1. Isn’t he a vet (i.e., animal doctor), too? I loved his “Is Born” shows. I remember a trike with a VW bug engine, a restoration of an E type Jaguar, a single-engine prop. kit airplane where he also had to studied for and passed a private pilot exam—IIRC, in his first solo he was charged for 3 landings because he bounced on the tarmac 3 times—and a single-engine kit helicopter. I wish Discovery still show his and other similar shows. One of the reasons why I cut my cable TV service.

          Anyway, yes, cool hack. (c:

  1. There actually are some hastily-sketched schematics later on in the post.

    I’m surprised on a tube that small he could see the chroma signal enough to warrant removing it.

  2. Tons of hacks are more about “Can I make this work” than about anything else. Just an exercise to push the boundaries of one’s skillset, This is a good one! Thanks for posting it.

      1. They used a version scored by Michael Kamen. The Internet tells me it was commissioned for the film, which explains why it’s wierd and dark-sounding. It’s a version of an old song in Portuguese, “Aquarelo de Brasil”. So now you can go off and find a copy, without wasting years going mad searching vainly.

        1. Sung by Geoff Muldaur. Now you can find it. The taxi chase tune from “Fifth Element” is called “Alech Taadi” by Khaled, since I’m here. And “Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazzarus is the song from Silence Of The Lambs. Where Jaime Gumb tries on his “outfit”. Sure that’ll help someone.

    1. Sinclair manufactured one in about 1980, but with a one point something inch diagonal 4:3 rectangular CRT screen. The tube was specially made, usual grey phosphor of course, called a “coffin tube” cos of the shape of it, was much deeper than it was big in the other 2 dimensions.

      This would be nice, to either take advantage of the roundness, and build a circular TV with circular symmetry, no obvious “top / bottom” or “sides”. Or else take inspiration from it’s oldness, when the very first TVs used round, or round-ish, tubes. So make a tiny little scale model of an early TV. Though the very early TVs were as big as a chest of drawers, and their screens were only about as big as this one.

      It COULD make a good Pip-Boy, for people who’ve had a hand amputated and can make themselves a decent fake with the CRT going through into the wrist.

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