A ’70s TV With ’20s Parts

Keeping older technology working becomes exponentially difficult with age. Most of us have experienced capacitor plague, disintegrating wire insulation, planned obsolescence, or even the original company failing and not offering parts or service anymore. To keep an antique running often requires plenty of spare parts, or in the case of [Aaron]’s vintage ’70s Sony television set, plenty of modern technology made to look like it belongs in a machine from half a century ago.

The original flyback transformer on this TV was the original cause for the failure of this machine, and getting a new one would require essentially destroying a working set, so this was a perfect candidate for a resto-mod without upsetting any purists. To start, [Aaron] ordered a LCD with controls (and a remote) that would nearly fit the existing bezel, and then set about integrating the modern controls with the old analog dials on the TV. This meant using plenty of rotary encoders and programming a microcontroller to do the translating.

There are plenty of other fine details in this build, including audio integration, adding modern video and audio inputs like HDMI, and adding LEDs to backlight the original (and now working) UHF and VHF channel indicators. In his ’70s-themed display wall, this TV set looks perfectly natural. If your own display wall spotlights an even older era, take a look at some restorations of old radios instead.

45 thoughts on “A ’70s TV With ’20s Parts

  1. and why not just changing the flyback transformer ? Many models are readily available, quite cheap… certainly far less work that this kludge, and much more authentic.

    1. Good question. Why has the space station ‘Deep Space 9’ from ST:DS9 been converted step by step from Bajoran/Cardassian technology to Federation technology as time passed on? ;)

      Anyway, I can think of two reasons why the CRT wasn’t kept. a) because it’s a project and that wasn’t sophisticated enough b) because tube technology is alien to nowadays generation of electronic hobbyists

        1. +1

          And home computers, VCRs, old video cameras with UHF modulator and no AV ports, RTTY keyboards/terminals, Atari Video Music Box.

          Consoles.. The Atari 2600, the e NES 2 which had RF out only (no composite/audio), the Sega Genesis which looked best on RF due to dithering effects, the N64 which was made with Composite/RF in mind etc..

    2. Because even if you did find a replacement (there are about a gazillion different models), there isn’t anything on to watch — analog TV broadcasts have been dead for years. You might be able to find some old videotapes and a VCR …

      1. It’s simple to use an external UHF modulator, though. The recent ones are using digital frequency synthesizers and are super stable.

        Bonus for using RF: Galvanic insulation.
        If one device blows up and catches fire, the other won’t be affected (no damage, electrically).
        Doing the same for Composite costs about $100 for a second hand video insulation transformer. And then, audio isn’t separated yet. Requires two more AF transformers or a commercial device (say, opto insulator for audio). Of course, maximum quality would be higher, too. :)

  2. if you really like the look of the old gear, restore it! original!
    But these “unboning-mods” where you just take modern gear and put it into the housing of the old machines: What is the benefit? it’s not getting better. the device will lose it’s original historic value. and the retrofitted one will be a laughing stock within 20 years.

    1. Agree exactly! It’s not hard to understand: A TV without a box is still a TV, but a box without a TV is just the façade.

      Therefore , it’s not as advertised, but just a 20’s TV with 20’s parts.

      The bit about the “70s box” didn’t make it into the original or my version of the title, which goes to show how unimportant the box is.

  3. Took me far longer than I’d like to admit to realize this meant 2020’s, not 1920’s. I was excited to see a color TV remade in 1920’s fashion.

    Please don’t call the 2020’s the 20’s. It won’t catch on until at least the 2040’s. (Journalistic articles don’t count — journalists love to split hairs and make up terminology. Looking at you here.)

    1. Aught’s, teen’s, twenty’s, booze is legal but virus’s are roaring. What gets to me is 2000 AND anything.
      Arthur C Clarke’s best seller has no AND in the title, I never heard that back then.
      A math problem, add it up and say it without the AND.

      1. Interesting. I never thought about this. I always kept reading “two-thousand-one”.
        Had no idea that this was done to the classic.
        With the “and”, it sounds less magnificent, I suppose?

        But perhaps that’s because I’m from Germany, not sure.
        Our title was “2001: Odyssee im Weltraum”(2001= zweitausendeins).
        That translates to “2001: Odyssey in Space”.

        Anyway, we do put off other stunts here. Twenty-nine (29) is spoken as nine-and-twenty (Neun-und-zwanzig). The rest is the same, gratefully. We say Two-thousand-twenty-nine, NOT twenty-nine-and-two-thousand. ;)

        And thousand (1000, Tausend) is sometimes spoken as one-thousand (ein-tausend).
        I suppose that’s case in English, too?

        1. Interesting.. One the other hand, didn’t the same dude have trouble with counting? ;)

          I mean, there’s the story that dates in the books don’t make sense.
          The dates referenced in the stories don’t match with the time that passed between the books. Or something like that. =)

  4. Oof! When you wrote ’20s parts, I thought you meant 1920s! It’s still interesting but in a completely different way. Also, my ego is wounded as now the ’20s is the current era and I was no prepared for that truth.

        1. Nipkow disks are in fashion, again. People build mechanical NBTV and SSTV systems for fun these days. I think that wonderful.

          Homebrew Nipkow monitor

          SSTV with glow paint on a drum:

          It proves that we’re still capable of building old school equipment in case of disaster.

          After a few decades when a big future catastrophe has been struck, people will perhaps do re-invent radio and simple monitors. Of course, a lot of work still has had to be done at this point. But it will have been a start. 😎

  5. The good news is that Sony TVs tended to be curved mostly along a single axis.

    So it might be easier to get a curved LCD or a lens to more closely mimic the original.

    Your title seriously confused me, I thought the ’20s technology was 1920’s. Gaah, guess I’m going to need to add another brain filter to double check for that before assuming I understand whats being said. I am only turning 40 this year but I’m starting to understand the elderly more and more. (nevermind that I was rear ended and it flared my arthritis)

  6. Part of the experience with an old device of that era was the delightfully coggy VHF channel knob. That clunk-clunk-clunk you not only heard but could feel clear to your elbow. The UHF knob was never as much fun, torque-wise. I’ve got one CRT TV I kept just for my 2600, but sadly it’s got those 1990 channel up channel down buttons.

    1. The tuners went through variation over time. Some, or maybe all, VHF tuners were not stepped. Mallory had the inductuner for that. But once it was solid state, well varactors, it made design easier. There was a wave of sets that had a panel of buttons. You couod get any channel,but each button had a trimpot, and a switch to select vhf-lo, vhf-hi and UHF. So you’d assign a button to.a local channel. Ithink those came with stickers soyiucoukd show what channel the button was assigned to.

      Then a few years later, synthesized tuners.

  7. Turret tuners for VHF had an individually tuned circuits for each channel, 2-13. I’ve seen a UHF tuner that just tapped a coil to vary the frequency. Some UHF tuners had bumps to give a feel that each channel was individually tuned, when in fact the tuning was by continuously varying a coil or capacitor.

  8. I was thinking it’d be about an early 1970’s TV, when new vacuum tube sets were still being sold, with a bad tube and he’d found some radio tube from the 1920’s that was a match for a bad tube.

    It’s nearly 1/4 of the way through the 21st Century and I still call the 1998 to 2002 period the turn of the century.

  9. Terrible title, quite misleading. 2020s LCD shoehorned into 1970s tv with operational dials would have been interesting, no need to misrepresent. Give it more thought next time, and avoid becoming a clickbait driven website, we won’t tolerate that. In the future I will think twice about reading articles by Bryan Cockfield, and [Aaron] should hold him to task for this.

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