Asset Recovery II: Plasma TV Harvest




About: Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter, the one of us who soonest finds the strength to rise must help the other. - Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

When driving around my neighborhood I'm always on the lookout for roadside swag, be it building material, furniture, or electronics as well as anything else of possible interest. I recently acquired two dead plasma TVs and brought them home since I have a project in mind and I knew that what was inside of them would be useful. In this Instructable I'll show how I dismembered a complex piece of gear and reclaimed valuable raw materials

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Step 1: Safety First

Any television or monitor has the potential to store hazardous voltages, research the current ways and means to render them safe before proceeding with parting it out. It is also advisable to glove up and wear eye protection as glass will be encountered during disassembly operations. An apron, if available, would also be a good idea.

Step 2: Rewards Come Easily and Early

Each back shell is simply unscrewed and set aside. They have a prominent place in a future project, and will be most useful because of their near- net shape.

Step 3: The Chassis Is Next

Unplug all cables, and unscrew the circuit boards. I temporarily bin that stuff and will go through it later, right now I want to move on and process for metal content. Next, while the front screen is still attached, strike off the spacers and standoffs using a hammer- they do not have a great amount of lateral resistance so this is quick and easy. The trick here is to tap just enough to dislodge the swaged part without deforming the metal chassis, I find orbiting around with each rap pops them off easily and minimizes panel distortion.

Step 4: Part the Screen From the Chassis

It will be advantageous to fabricate a tool that will slice through the adhesive membrane that secures the glass screen to the main chassis. I used an old handsaw and modified it with my bench grinder to the specifications in the image. To use, one simply inserts it between the adjacent surfaces and slices through the membrane, parting it from the metal chassis by ripping with the hook and chiseling with the nose. The glass will likely fracture and begin to fall off during this procedure, so this is best done outside since neon, xenon and argon plus a small amount of nitrogen may still be present in the envelope. Finally, it may be possible to use a stout piano or guitar wire and pull it through for the same effect, but I have not tried that on such a large scale project as this.

Step 5: The Results

Lots of aluminum profiles and flats to add to my inventory now. I often find when working on a project that a stock item's shape will do my needs better than my original design concept, thus it helps to simplify the job.

Step 6: Often Overlooked; Reusing Those Fasteners Designed for Plastic

The thrifty reclaimist uses all his/ her resources gathered during the journey. I have a large collection of screws saved when dismantling products and have divided them in two categories: machine screw threads, i.e. 8-32, 6mm, etc. and self- tapping threads, generally intended for plastics. The good news is also, that those blunt self- tappers will work quite well in wood if dense enough, and most woods are. Their coarse threads grab well, are easily driven in drilled pilot holes, and for small thin metal mountings are a reliable choice.

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    9 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Cool instructable. Did you test the TVs first to see if they could be fixed? Last summer I picked up a 42" Plasma TV out of someones trash and it turned out all it needed was a reset by holding the power button for 30 seconds.

    If the screen is cracked then there's a good chance all the boards work, you can sell those on Ebay and save them from the trash.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    No, I didn't, plasma sets have a reputation as being relatively short lived due to the circuit complexity and high energy requirements. I don't see many plasma sets anymore, the technology had a limited run on the market and LED screens are far cheaper to manufacture. I did salvage several of those and use the light strips that function for various lighting tasks about the workshop


    3 years ago

    What sort of glass is used on the front face of a plasma tv screen. Does it crack or shatter? Can it be cut using a standard glass cutter?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    It is some kind of laminated matrix of both glass and plastic, I found no use for it, but there is an opaque plastic diffuser behind which is, along with mylar sheets.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Curve bounty! I love it and I it's one of the things I miss the most of living in the US.

    This is really interesting, And I bet the electronics have a second life as well!


    Nice and helpful project! You can also use the screen cover to make a solar death ray that heats things up to over 2000 degrees F.

    1 reply
    KcswimracFission Chips

    Reply 4 years ago

    I think you're thinking of the Fresnel lens found inside of projection Televisions.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Brilliant work! I have a Sunday morning ritual that involves driving around industrial parks and picking through the trash bins.

    If I ever come across a plasma tv, I'll be sure to snatch it up!