Prison TV Gets Simple Speaker Mod

American prisons are strict about television use. Typically they’re only to be used with headphones, and their enclosures need to be transparent so they can’t be used to smuggle goods. ClearTech makes TVs that meet these specifications, and when [Steve Pietras] got his hands on just such a unit, he set about modding it for use in the free world.

Getting into the TV isn’t easy; ClearTech built the units using special security fasteners unlike any we’ve seen before. [Steve] found a way to deal with these, though declines to share his technique in his video. Once inside though, his task is relatively straightforward. He steps through where to install speakers in the TV’s housing, and how to hook them up to the right spots on the main circuit board. With the case closed back up, [Steve] is able to use the TV without headphones, and without the threat of getting shanked by a fellow inmate who really doesn’t want to hear Jeopardy while they’re trying to read.

It’s not every day we get to look at a piece of obscure hardware like this. We’d never seen a prison TV before, and now we feel like experts on the topic. Of course, we’re no strangers to esoterica at Hackaday.

20 thoughts on “Prison TV Gets Simple Speaker Mod

    1. Corrupt guards are responsible for most of the contraband, either directly transporting it in, or being paid off to look the other way. Very little of it is actually from prisoners’ efforts without prison guard assistance.

      1. The inmates are good at bringing the stuff in too: concealed in legal mail, liquefied and dried in greeting cards, swallowed for later retrieval, ‘keistered’, pre-arranged drops for inmate worker crews to covertly pick-up, conjugal visits, etc.

    1. Last hotel I stayed in had all the HDMI ports locked out as well as the settings menu. (There needs to be a hack around this). Also the channel menu was not coded so if you selected the wrong channel… instant charge !

  1. Re: Security screws
    Learn from inmates! heat up a plastic toothbrush handle. press it into the plastic into the screw head. There are literally no security head screws I’ve seen that can resist these. Inmates certainly have no trouble getting into those things.

    1. I got into a model M keyboard by heating up the body of a pen, and pressing against the screws.
      The keyword to search online, for the screws in the video seems to be “tri wing”.

      1. Yup, Tri-Wing. 1/4″ bits are readily available, including in Harbor Freight’s “Security Bits” set, and at Home Depot. except that a 1/4′ bit will not fit in the recessed hole. Tri-Wing screwdrivers can be ordered from many sources incl. Amazon and Walmart. Doesn’t help the inmates tho.

    2. Not likely to work if the screws are tight. And cigarettes and thus lighters are now contraband. But the inmates are indeed creative, resourceful, and persistent. Too much time on their hands and what else better do they have to do!

  2. Those security screws look similar to the ones used in Intellivision cartridges, though I think the ones on the intellivision cartridges are larger. It’s hard to tell. The old heat up a long piece of hard plastic so it starts to melt and jam it in the screw head hole trick might work here.

    1. For opening NES cartridges, I actually 3D printed a PLA rod of the right diameter and heated the end. No wasting pens. What perhaps works best is a + shape from two rods at right angles, as that provides leverage, and more ends when one wears out.
      It doesn’t work equally well on all screw heads. The last cart I was opening was hard. And then when I got it open I noticed they were standard Philips screws – I forgot to look at them before starting work!

  3. “Of course, we’re no strangers to esoterica at Hackaday.”
    Looks like you are similarly no strangers to far fetched shameless plugs to other unrelated hackaday articles. ^_^

  4. The ~~mYsTeRiOuS~~ security screws sure look like Tri-Wings (not tri-point or tri-angle, those are different), which come in the $10 set of 100 security bits from Harbor Freight.

  5. Heat! Take a pencil iron to the screw head first then quickly turn it with a small blade screwdriver that barely but fits. This works wonders in every case in wood, plastic, and some times in metal. Do this first even with regular screw heads if it’s getting tough before you ruin the head. With bigger screws get the gun out, soldering gun that is.

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