Hacked Gadgets Forum

October 12, 2009

Save Money Fix Your TV Yourself

at 11:08 am. Filed under DIY Hacks, Vintage Electronics


Back in 1959 this is what you would have been reading if your were an electronics professional. How things have changed from then to now, almost everything you purchase today is made to be disposable since you can produce a new board for less than it would take to troubleshoot and repair it. It is impressive how reliability has changed though since in this article they expect most people to spend at least 40 dollars per year on service calls to repair the TV, at only 5 dollars per service call this means that your TV is expected to break down every month and a half!




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14 Responses to “Save Money Fix Your TV Yourself”

  1. Sean Says:

    Heh! This is how I got started in electronics. We couldn’t afford new stuff, so there was plenty of old tube electronics available at yard sales. Back then you took off the back and looked for the glow. No glow meant a burned out tube. If that didn’t do it, you pulled out all the tubes and went down to your local Payless Drug Store and stuck them in the tester. As you got your troubleshooting skills, you took down only the one or two tubes in the circuit instead of the whole lot. Was pretty good at that by the time I was 12, and then other people wanted their stuff fixed which tended to be a mixture of electron tubes and solid state…

  2. Alan Parekh Says:

    Hi Sean,

    I am impressed that you have that skill at 12. At that age I was taking things apart and almost always not putting them back together successfully. 🙂 Tube testers in the drug stores is before my time but if they were burning out at the rate like is implied the replacement tube business must have been booming.

  3. Rob Says:

    I have a few old tubes laying around, I should take a few of them down to CVS or Walgreens and see what reaction I get when I ask them to test them for me.

  4. aka Says:

    hah. not quite so easy now, but i did score a 32″ LCD on freecycle which only needed a new fuse soldering in. looks nice in my lounge now 🙂

    internet means even amateurs like me can indulge in a bit of electronics diy

  5. Alan Parekh Says:

    That would be funny Rob.

    You might have one of them say finally, we have been storing that thing on a shelf in the back for years just for this occasion. 🙂

  6. Alan Parekh Says:

    Wow aka,

    That is a sweet piece of gear, and for free!! Even better. Did you tell the old owner that you fixed it?

  7. The voice in your head Says:

    Nice back when electronics were designed to be repairable!

    I remember all the manuals having those pictures, as late as the Super NES. I always found it a little amusing that they would include a picture of the game working just fine to demonstrate a lack of sound.

  8. Rich Cox Says:

    So cool…. I remember an old Walgreens in Albuquerque that still had a fuse tester well into the mid-late 80’s. To be honest, it is the little things like that which I miss.

  9. Sean Says:

    @Alan Parekh

    Well, there were some ARRL books in the school library, got hooked in fourth grade, burned through those things and started reading everything electronic related that I could get at the county library. Sixth grade, I got as a present the Heathkit Experimenter and several electronics courses.

    Somewhere along the line, I picked up some old Navy NavShips manuals and study materials in highschool which explained in detail how to block troubleshoot anything.

    Whether it’s been automotive, engine control systems, computer hardware, networking, computer code or just general, I’ve been using the troubleshooting skills I learned back then ever since.

  10. Foster Says:

    @sean – This is how I got started too. I was about 12 and had a regular set of customers that I worked on. In most cases the simple tube diagram stuck to the inside was enough to fix it. In the hard cases I used Sam’s Photofacts, they were the schematics and tube guides for each set. I would leave a note what I did and the Photofacts in the TV for the next time.

    I still have the scar on my right hand from the high voltage supply of a huge Zenith.

    Once the solid state parts started coming in, TV’s became harder and harder to fix. Mostly because you couldn’t get the parts.

    I was able to get a part time job with the local TV repair guy, he started to run into TV’s that had my notes (and my Sam’s)in them. (If I couldn’t fix it, I’d have the owners take it to him). Learned a lot about some of the trickier adjustments needed for those new fangled Color TV’s. 🙂

  11. Sean Says:


    Fortunately, safety tips from my construction electrician grandfather and ARRL manuals said to always work with one hand in your pocket around HV. I stupidly got careless for the first and last time around a flyback circuit on the primary side. The smoking minute hole in my finger took a while to heal…

    Didn’t hurt as bad though as when I took 80kv+ off a General Motors HEI ignition system with a bad distributor cap. It grounded through my shoulder which was resting against the hood hinge. Learned to use some of that HV technique by sweeping a grounded screwdriver near anything that indicated an arcover…

    It’s a whole different world now, we think more modularly than at the circuit level, which is what makes the circuit bending stuff people are doing fun… Muck around with modules and repurpose them for things never originally intended…

  12. Foster Says:

    Safety tips are good, and I was good about following them until I got zapped. I was MUCH better after that and built a long wooden stick that had a length of HV wire that I could ground one end and discharge using the other.

    Back in the TV day it was tubes and sometimes power caps. Color tv came with small replaceable circut boards (a tube, handful of discrete components. Zenith was the best, they had test points on the boards that you could test voltages and signals on. Once the TV became 2-3 big boards, then replacements became a problem since the part now cost more than the TV.

    At the shop we collected TV’s and cleaned parts out of them to create a spare pile for future TV’s. We had 24 floor to ceiling shelves and racks with parts that may or may not work. The last TV I worked on was a single board tied into a digital tuner and a solid state HV supply. I lucked out, the HV supply was dead and I could fix (replace) the power transistor.

  13. Push-Pull Tube Amp Build - Hacked Gadgets - DIY Tech Blog Says:

    […] Now if only we could find a drugstore with a tube tester. With cool equipment like this and tube TV troubleshooting guides popping up there is sure to be demand for tube testers once […]

  14. jimofoz Says:

    I can recall going with my dad to the local drugstore with a bag of tubes in hand for testing and replacement. I can also remember taping a pair of pliers to the channel changer knob to get a better channel connection. And remember the vertical/horizontal hold buttons? And why the knob didn’t have a channel “1” on it? We even had to get up and walk to the TV to adjust the volume – now that was tough work.

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