7 Incredible DIY Ideas to Upcycle Old TVs

Don’t want to trash your old clunky TV, but it’s taking up too much space? Upcycle it into a monitor and save yourself some bucks, turn it into a bar, or transform it into a cool-looking ’80s themed clock and get an instant conversation starter. Check out these ideas and more on repurposing old TVs below.

Note that most old TVs feature cathode-ray tubes with a charge strong enough to injure you severely and sometimes fatally. So make sure you discharge your old TV first before you gut it and if you have no idea how to do so, have an electronics expert help you out.

1. Hack an Old TV Into an Audio Visualizer

Want to boost the audio quality of your podcast, audio productions, or YouTube vlogs, but can’t afford to splurge on an audio visualizer? Transform an old TV into one, and save some cash while simultaneously putting that ’70s TV to good use. And because it only involves simulating an oscilloscope, this DIY idea doesn’t require years of experience with electronics (you only need to be careful of cathode-ray tubes that may contain charge).

Besides an analog TV (preferably black and white), you’ll also need a music player with a headphone jack, electrical tape, male-to-male stereo cable, electrical tape, solder, solder flux and a soldering iron, and a screwdriver to disassemble the TV as illustrated in the guide on Instructables.

2. Transform Old TV Into an ’80s-Themed Clock

Analog TV technology might be outdated, but it still has a cool retro vibe going on, and the best way to experience this and put that old TV to practical use is by transforming it into an ’80s themed clock. Once complete, your cool clock will display the time in retro-themed melting digits and in four different color themes you’ll love. The best part? It’ll be an ’80s themed clock with a web-based setup!


Other than a CRT-based TV, you’ll also need a micro USB cable, an Adafruit HUZZAH32 Feather, RCA terminal block, and jumper wires to complete the setup shown in the demo above. Check out the step-by-step guide on Instructables to complete this project.

Related: Interesting Projects that Use the ESP32 to Generate Composite Video

3. Old TV Ambient LED Light With Kodi

Ambilight TVs are all the rage nowadays. They add a beautiful, colorful and immersive edge to TV watching by making even a tiny screen appear bigger while reducing glare. But they are pretty expensive too. Luckily, you don’t have to blow your budget on one as you can always equip a standard TV model with an LED array to achieve the same effect.

You will need a power source, either 5V or 12V, 5A step-down converter, Banana Pi M3 or Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, and an LED strip (use WS2811 if using a 12V power source, or WS2812B if using 5V). Glue the LED strip to the back of the TV and note the direction as you’ll need to make six connections, as shown in the step-by-step guide on Instructables. Next, prepare the Banana Pi or Raspberry Pi, wire everything together, set up the software, and connect an app to control Kodi remotely.

4. Make Light Panel Out of Old CCFL Backlight TV

If your old TV is already broken, put its still-functional components to good use. In this case, to be precise, retrieve its CCFL backlight to make a light panel. Unscrew the backplate and carefully remove the internal parts until the old screen is exposed.

Next, remove the metal border securing the backlight panel and obtain the CCFL panel with the board it’s mounted on, connect it to its driver, and then plug the former into your socket, and voilà! You’ll have a functional CCFL light panel. For more DIY lighting ideas, you can check out the best Arduino LED projects.

5. UpCycle a ’70s TV Into a Monitor

Modern monitors are excellent, but imagine gaming away on that clunky ’70s wood-grain TV that made your childhood more interesting. When you’re done with this DIY project, you’ll be able to do that and have a cool-looking retro monitor to amp up your media center.

It’s pretty straightforward, too. All you need to do is take out the old TV’s CRT tube and circuits, and replace them with a modern, appropriately sized monitor, as illustrated in the YouTube tutorial above. Consider reusing the old TV’s circuits to cut costs even further if they’re still functional. Check out the Instructables guide to easily complete this project.

6. Seinfeld-Themed Fish Tank From an Old TV

This simple DIY project lets you create a roomier home for your pet fish while giving your old TV a new place in the living room.

Wear gloves as it’ll probably be dusty, and remove the backplate to access the innards. Cut the power cord using a wire cutter and all wires connected to the circuit board, including the tube and everything connected. Unscrew the four screws on each corner to remove the tube and do the same for the circuit board and the remaining parts.

Disassemble the tube to obtain the old TV’s screen, sand it off, attach it to the case, and put together the rest of the aquarium, as explained the step-by-step guide on Awesomeness Projects.

7. Transform Old TV Into Bar

Old TVs make unique liquor cabinets. So if you’ve nowhere to stash your bottles, put your old TV to good use by turning it into a bar.

As with most DIY ideas to upcycle an old TV, start by discharging the TV using a quality insulated screwdriver, or if available, a discharge cable. Next, empty the insides of the TV, and fit the walls and the floor with 6mm thick composite wood. Replace the original backplate, and your bar will be ready for use. Feel free to add lighting or printed stickers for that extra oomph.

Related: Amazing Tech DIY Ideas to Instantly Upgrade Your Man Cave

Reinventing Old Technology Using Analog TVs

Whether you’re bored and looking for something to keep yourself busy or you have a hand-me-down ’80s TV and looking to put it to good use, any of the DIY ideas above is an excellent way to restore old technology. Try one out, or use them for inspiration for your own TV upcycling project.

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