Have an old-fashioned cathode-ray TV lying around and want to give it a new life?
YouTuber Dr. Moddnstine has done just that, by taking an old color TV set from 1978, cramming a Chromecast inside the case, and hooking up a bit of hardware so that the TV turns on automatically when you use your phone, tablet, or PC to send music or videos to the Chromecast.
The TV is a relatively small set (by 1978 standards), that’s designed to be easy to move from room to room when you pick it up from a handle on the back. It has physical buttons and dials, but the TV has been modified so that you can turn the set off with the power switch… but to turn it on, you just hit the Cast button on your phone.
Under the hood, there’s a switch taken from the kind of motion-detecting light system that you might install outside a house for security purposes. In this case, the switch has been set up to detect audio from the Chromecast rather than motion… so a few seconds after you give the command for the Chromecast to start playing media, the TV is turned on.
That means the Chromecast needs to be turned on all the time, and it will take a few seconds for the screen to come on and another 15 seconds or so for the tubes to reach full power so that colors are displayed properly. But that’s just how old TVs work.
If the system doesn’t detect any audio after 5 minutes, it will turn off the TV screen automatically.
Dr Moddnstine also set up the TV so that it can be used as an audio streamer. Of course you can stream music from YouTube, Google Play, or Spotify to the TV itself… but he’s also added an audio out jack on the back that lets him run a line to a speaker or stereo system so that you can stream music from the Chromecast even when the TV is off.
Want a better sense of what the hardware looks like under the TV? This longer video includes a break-down of all the adapters and cables, starting at around the 11:50 mark. At the 15:50 point, you can actually see the back of the TV with the rear cover removed.
Dr Moddnstine says he’s been using his setup for about a month, but it’s still a work in progress and he’s not entirely convinced that the sound-activated timer he’s using is safe… it could potentially pose a fire hazard. So he’s not providing instructions.
Still, there’s a lot of room inside these old TVs for anyone interested in hacking their own Chromecast (or Roku or Fire TV Stick)-powered TV.
Or you could just take the money you would have spent on adapters and put it toward the price of a small flat-screen TV. But where’s the fun in that?