Introduction: Retro-Future TV Conversion

About: I love the design and ambition of vintage technology, and the usability and potential of new - my passion is bringing the two together.

This is an early colour portable TV that I've upcycled with a more modern (but similarly nearly obsolete) LCD TV panel. It's pretty slim and wall-mounted, and I've converted the original TV controls, retaining the original button-pushing rotary-tuning vintage experience. I've also added an adjustable webcam to give it more functions and a futuristic look.

Step 1: Two Old TVs

I picked up this old Sanyo CTP 3104 TV at a car boot sale in July for £4 - initially I was put off by its sheer size and slightly odd design, but looking closer at the case I noticed that the case had a join about 5cm from the front, so I was taken by the idea of using just the front section and making a slim wall-mounted flat screen conversion.

It must have been one of the first generation of colour portable TVs, as it had rotary tuning and no preset channel buttons, needing a huge case to hold all the electronics. It dismantled really cleanly however, and I was impressed with the efficiency of manufacturing - little touches like using consistent screw sizes throughout.

I decided to take my time with it and make the parts separately so they would screw together, rather than going wild with the hot-glue as I have in the past.

I already had a Bush flat screen TV which also cost me £4 at a sale as it was the old-style silver colour and had no remote or hdmi input and a broken dvd player (also it was lying on the floor in the rain) - enough to be classified as junk by most people! I'd clumsily sprayed it black and wallmounted it a while back (see pic) but it was ripe for a better use. It came apart pretty well, I discarded the case and integrated DVD player, leaving just the flat panel and circuits. I should probably say at some point that I'm always really careful when working with dismantled electronics, and it's best to be super-wary when working on things obtained second hand.

To my amazement the flat panel was a perfect fit for the hole left by the old CRT, which made this build a lot easier.

Step 2: Fit to Screen

Although the panel was just the right size it didn't fit flush with the screen surround, some corner mounts were in the way due to the original screen being curved rather than having sharp corners. I chopped these out and sanded them with a multi-tool to make the screen fit snugly. The screen was then secured in place with small brackets I made from some shelf fixings.

Step 3: Original Controls

I love the mechanical controls used in old technology, and for this project I wanted to keep the user experience as faithful as possible to the original. The main control buttons on the old TV were for power (locking push switch), tuning (potentiometer), contrast and volume (sliders).

The flat TV on the other hand had a series of pcb-mounted microswitches controlling AV source, volume, power etc so I had to find some way to link the two together.

I started by looking closely at the microswitch circuit board, which connects to the main TV circuit via 6 wires. At first this threw me, how could 8 switches on the board be controlled by only 6 wires? I soon figured out that different combinations of the same wires translated into different functions. I traced the switch circuit from the wire connectors to the microswitches and managed to map out which combinations I needed for the TV controls.

Firstly I dealt with the rotary tuning - how to use the turning of the dial to mimic the momentary push-switch action that the TV circuit was expecting to change the AV source. I managed this by using a single-pole 12 way rotary switch, with alternate terminals connected to the same cable (see pic). This means that as the dial is turned the switch moves between open and closed states, just as the original microswitch could be pressed repeatedly to cycle through the AV sources.

The power switch was straightforward, I just replaced the bulky locking switch with a push switch, keeping it in the same housing to make assembly easier.

The volume control was fun to figure out and is one of my favourite parts of the build - I retained the existing slider assembly, but mounted a lever microswitch at either end (see pic), so sliding back and forth clicks switches for the volume up/down switch respectively. The switch circuit was connected to the main circuit, tested and put aside ready for later assembly.

Step 4: Hidden Controls & Webcam

The TV had a small flip-open panel on the right, containing rotary controls for brightness, colour etc. I didn't need these in the new build, but still wanted to use the flip-open panel in some way.

I drilled out three of the holes a little wider and fitted some composite video couplers, connecting them to the SCART input of the TV circuit. This means that I now have a handy front-mounted composite video/audio input, which has already proved useful for quickly testing equipment. I fitted push-switches into the remaining holes for future use, I'm sure I'll think of something for them to do!

The circular space above the tuning dial was just blanked off (maybe a more expensive model had something in there) so I thought I'd add in a webcam for extra futuristic functionality - I wanted it to be posable and liked the idea of it being stalk-mounted, kind of like a dalek. Incredibly I got this microsoft lifecam for 50p from a rummage box at a sale - junked because its base was missing. I made the stalk assembly from a ballpoint pen, glueing the cut-down body of the pen to the webcam and the nib end of the pen securely to a ball & socket joint mounted on the TV, salvaged from another 50p webcam. The two pen pieces screw together to make a firm but easily moveable joint.

Step 5: Painting and Assembly

I cut a hole in the metal faceplate for the webcam stalk and then it was ready for painting - I went with white for that "2001" kind of look, also the contrast with the black controls is pretty nice. I used "direct to plastic" spray paint and got a good finish, but took a while sanding and cleaning the parts first to ensure it would stick properly.

I managed to re-use the original flat TV's vesa wall mounting bracket which was really handy - I mounted a threaded rod inside the top of the TV case which was then cable-tied to the bracket to make it both secure and easy to lift on & off the wall.

Despite my best efforts I couldn't fit all of the bits & pieces plus the wall mounting bracket inside the thin front section of the TV case, so I needed to cut a 2cm sliver from the back section to make it fit flush with the wall. I also used part of the back to make a holder for the TV circuit, to keep everything securely in place.

Finally I mounted the small circuit board containing the power LED and IR sensor in the vent at the base of the TV case, facing down, which gives a nice green/red glow. With all the parts put together it was time to get it on the wall!

Step 6: On the Wall

And done! It works better than expected as a secondary PC monitor, but in daily use it usually just shows the feed from the garden cctv camera. Recently though I've been enjoying some period Atari games on there with one of those battery-powered all-in-one joysticks - it makes the classic games look right at home, and working the old-style controls to switch "channels" just adds to the charm.

I considered wiring one of the spare TV buttons to a KVM unit, to switch the PC over to this monitor when pressed, as well as using something like flutter to harness webcam gestures to control media playback, but in the end decided less is sometimes more - and more importantly my next project is just begging to be dismantled now that this one is complete!

If you like this project and want to see more you can check out my website for in-progress project updates at, join in on Twitter @OldTechNewSpec or subscribe to the growing YouTube channel at - give some of your Old Tech a New Spec!

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