Groovy TV Gets A Very Brady Makeover

Vintage TV play The Brady Bunch on loop using modern electronics

Here’s the story of an old Sharp TV, which was donated to [mandy] to be hacked. Just one look and you can see, very clearly, it plays old Brady Bunch tracks.

Upon inspection of the old television, [Aaron] and [mandy] found that the unit first hit the local Montgomery Ward in 1969. And what just momentous event played on televisions across North America in 1969? Well yes, the Apollo moon landing. And David Bowie’s Space Oddity. And Abbey Road. And Woodstock. But no, we’re talking about that other momentous event that would shape young minds for generations to come:

The pilot episode of The Brady Bunch.

Vintage TV play The Brady Bunch on loop using modern electronics
The wood base keeps all the electronics in formation.

Yes, The Brady Bunch, that campy TV show that first aired in 1969 and ended in 1974. It just so happens that [mandy]’s favorite TV show is The Brady Bunch, so when the bright orange Sharp TV came along, she knew what had to be done.

While the style of the television may be timeless, the internals weren’t. They were removed, and a new internal frame was built from a naturally occurring cellulose/lignin composite adorned in Brady Blue. Inspired by in-store advertising displays and billboards that play the same content on a loop, [mandy] and [Aaron] added an Eyoyo 7” monitor and an Aptek video player.

Leaving no question as to what era the TV came from, the revamped piece now plays about 50 of [mandy]’s favorite Brady clips on loop, all modified to be centered properly on the off-center screen. Groovy! To round out the experience and keep things mellow, the knobs were re-attached using Lego pieces, and are reportedly very satisfying to spin.

If you’ve got a thing for vintage hacks, you might like this Pi-powered NuTone home intercom or this vintage camera flash turned clock. And if you have any awesome hacks you think we’d like to see, be sure to send them on over to the Tip Line!


17 thoughts on “Groovy TV Gets A Very Brady Makeover

    1. Please keep in mind that old hardware was made with toxic compounds like lead, cadmium, mercury, various polichlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lots of other nasties. In my opinion it is essential to dispose as much of old devices as we can because they may become hazard to future generations.

      1. These toxic chemicals are only a problem when released into the environment, like when the electronics are improperly disposed of in a landfill.

        The only two desirable options are continue to use them, or recycle with a proper electronics recycler.

    2. CRTs use a lot of power. Also: high voltages. This type of gear was built cheap and usually tends not to age well. You’re going to have a significant problem finding schematics and parts. They also tend to be tightly built, you’d have to remove parts to make space for the new electronics.

      She made the right call here.

      1. I agree. CRTs aren’t repairable after a certain point to add to your reasoning. Even if they were infinitely repairable (which they aren’t – the CRT and its beam assembly are a sealed unit) it doesn’t make financial or environmental sense to keep burning 300W or so when you can do the same with a 15W (or less) LCD panel.

        It’s the same reason I’ve sent old a lot of old still functional 32bit x86 era equipment to the recyclers rather than repurposing it. They all used 2-3x the electricity as even a Sandy Bridge system from a decade ago and slower for the same task.

        Personally I’m glad to have gotten rid of CRTs. They were bulky, heavy, the color versions were blurry, contained toxic components, generated enormous amounts of heat, and anyone that says they had a good picture aesthetic are remembering through rose colored glasses. Also: coil whine. No thanks.

        1. Color CRT’s are not blurry. I had a CRT VGA monitor which was not only crisp at 1024×768, unlike LCD’s it was also crisp at other odd resolutions. What was blurry was the NTSC color standard which hacked color onto the original black and white signal by a method that could not supply enough bandwidth, so certain color transitions were smeared. This was especially noticeable once home computers and games started sending them saturated color signals. For normal images, the still crisp luminance signal tended to truly awful color transitions.

      2. Gear built nowadays is built cheaply ad designed to be unrepairable.
        The typical TV set of the 70s could be opened with a couple of screwdrives and normally the schematic was in the same envelope of the instruction manual or in an evelope glued inside the TV.

        I could concede that a open filament or exausted CRT means that the TV set is toast, and a broken flyback is a pain to find the parts. But a most working TV from the 70s or the 80s is becoming a rare thing. Gutting them isn’t always a good idea.

          1. There are external RF modulators, I think. With the newest PLL or DDS oscillators. They convert CVBS into RF, so it can be picked up by an old TV.

            Alternatively, those TVs can be hacked to accept baseband signals (let’s remember, this is The idea is to bypass the tuner.

            Color CRT TVs internally use separate tubes for red/green/blue (RGB) though; a monochrome TV had only one – so it can handly a monochrome “Composite” signal natively – which a Raspberry Pi can generate without extra components.

            However, there’s a danger involved – old TVs, esp. from the USA, have a “hot chassis”. So that’s nothing for beginners. :(

            Later TVs do have PSUs (transfomers), though. Especially the ones in plastic cases or with an optional 12v input, if memory serves. These must their own voltages, anyway.

            That being said, no device is worth sacrificing your live. So better the old CRT bites the dust than its owner.

          2. Retrocomputing. I have a brand new Commodore VIC-20 which has never been removed from its box that I’ve been intending to set up, but I know from other vintage computers it will look terrible (and inauthentic of course) on a LCD monitor — if you can even find one with a NTSC input.

    3. Yes, this.
      CRTs are becoming unobtainum, while posessing quite unique and hard to reproduce properties (the visual look is only a part of it, as anyone with an “interesting” video signal can tell).

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