42" of Plasma TV awesomeness. You gave our family many, many hours of fun.

42″ of Plasma TV awesomeness. You gave our family many, many hours of fun.

A few years ago the beautiful 42″ Panasonic Plasma HD Television I gave myself as a tenure present in 2007 broke…again.  The first time it blew a board it was worth repairing, but the next time – when we got the dreaded 10 blinks of death –  the cost of repair exceeded the price of buying a new (and better) one.  The guy advertising on craigslist that he buys broken electronics to rip out all the rare earth metals didn’t want it. Even the TV repair dude told me to trash it. 

But I just couldn’t do it. As far as I was concerned, taking it to our local hazardous waste collection center because even manufacturers are telling owners of $1800 televisions that they are disposable after a year was all the proof I needed that our species deserved extinction.  So I stashed it in the garage thinking I’d one day make friends with a faculty member in UF’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering whose grad students would fix it in return for a growler from First Magnitude. Finally, Patricia told me to get rid of it because she was tired of tripping over it.  But before doing so I remembered I’d once read how to convert an old Macintosh computer into an aquarium, so I decided I would take one last at the interwebs to see if anyone had a creative way to repurpose a broken TV.  I searched for a couple of hours with no luck, and then ran across this in a distant corner of the web: a guy screwed some Ikea legs into his broken TV and turned it into a coffee table. Bing! That’s it!  But surely it can be a bit more exciting, no?

Once I realized the TV was basically a glass lid over a box, I considered all kinds of stuff – making it a terrarium or a giant picture frame, letting my kids paint it with glass paint, putting some LED candles in it…and then while searching for LED’s I came across this, known as an Infinity Mirror, and remembered a piece by Chul Hyun Ahn that captivated my kids on a trip to The University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art.

LED Infinity Mirror how-to video by Mist8K

LED Infinity Mirror: how-to video by Mist8K

 

Chul Hyun Ahn, "Tunnel IV," 2011 (two views), cast concrete, lights, mirrors, ed. of 3, 20x40x40 inches (Image by BmoreArt, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Chul Hyun Ahn, “Tunnel IV,” 2011 (two views), cast concrete, lights, mirrors, ed. of 3, 20x40x40 inches (Image by BmoreArt, CC BY-SA 3.0)

With that the dream was born: an Infinity TV Coffee Table.  It took ~8 hours to plan, shop, and build and cost $73.

To make it either recycled or repurposed these things I had in the house:

  • 1 Broken TV

  • some scrap lumber: I used some 1″ x 4″ and the wood trim trim I had in the garage

  • A piece of MDF on which to mount the mirror (also sitting around the garage)

  • velcro

  • wood screws

  • nails

  • tools: I used a tape measure, circular saw, hammer, cordless drill (essential to remove all the screws)

  • table leg pads

  • glue gun

  • clear packing tape

Purchased (total: $73)

Some of what I used, most of which was lying around the house.

Some of what I used, most of which was lying around the house.

Step 1: Remove the back panel.

BackPanel

first things first…remove the screws. Lots of them.

 

Once you do you realize you’re in for a long day..I counted another 135 screws, and that was only the ones I could see.

135 screws! And that's just the ones I can see.

135 screws! And that’s just the ones I can see.

Step 2: Start pulling out all the components (which will be recycled at the next Spring Greening Collection Day organized by Sustainable UF).

20 minutes in....

20 minutes in….

40 minutes in...screw this, I'm cutting wires to make my life easier.

40 minutes in…screw this, I’m cutting wires to make my life easier.

1 hours and 36 minutes later,all the interior components are out.

1 hours and 36 minutes and 206 screws later,all the interior components are out.

The TV's guts laid out for all to appreciate. Gustavo had only one comment: "Awesome".

The TV’s guts laid out for all to appreciate. Gustavo had only one comment: “Awesome”.

Step 3: Remove the mirror from the frame and cut a piece of MDF large enough to serve as the base for the mirror.

the mirror was $7 on Craig's List, but the guy bargained me up to $10 since he delivered it to me at work.  Have no idea how to reuse that frame which is...interesting.

the mirror was $7 on Craig’s List, but the guy bargained me up to $10 since he delivered it to me at work. Have no idea how to reuse that frame which is…interesting.

Mirror on the

Mirror on the base

Step 4: Cut the 1″ x 4″ so that it’s long enough so that the base of the legs can be screwed onto it and emerge through the holes for bolting the TV to a wall mount (Edit, 7 december 2014: make sure to level to lateral pieces onto which the legs will be attached; you may have to put a shim under them.  I didn’t and the legs are a biiiiit angled. Not much, but enough to notice if you squint).

the bases of the legs were screwed into these pieces of 1" x 4", which also serve to secure a piece of MDF that will serve as the base for the mirror in place.

the bases of the legs were screwed into these pieces of 1″ x 4″, which also serve to secure a piece of MDF that will serve as the base for the mirror in place.

Here you can see the underside of the 1" x 4" with the base of the Ikea Capita legs screwed in place.  Those screws? They were the same ones used to hold the mirror in it's original frame. Repurposing FTW!

Here you can see the underside of the 1″ x 4″ with the base of the Ikea Capita legs screwed in place. Those screws? They were the same ones used to hold the mirror in it’s original frame. Repurposing FTW! (Edit 12/9/14: Yes, I now realize flat-head screws were a no-no, thanks reddit user na4ion1 for reminding me.)

Step 5: Add a few pieces of 1″ x 4″ to support the MDF panel on which the mirror will be mounted (I used the glue gun), then paint the inside of the TV with glossy finish black spray paint.

An additional 2 1" x 4" provide support under the MDF on which I am mounting the mirror.

An additional 2 1″ x 4″ provide support under the MDF on which I am mounting the mirror.

Step 6: Paint the MDF panel and screw it onto the 1″ x 4″‘s, then build a frame for the mirror with scrap 1″ x 1″. After you paint it, place the mirror on the MDF base so that when you put the front of the TV back on it will be centered in the screen. Attach the mirror to the MDF with velcro. (Edit 7 December 2014: you may want to add some weight to the inside outside the frame to make the table a bit more stable).

The frame took an hour to build and paint.

The frame took an hour to build and paint.

Mirror and frame have been velcro'd on for easy removal in case I want to change the lights.

Mirror and frame have been velcro’d on for easy removal in case I want to change the lights.

Step 7: Take the LED string and tape it onto the inside of the frame.  Velcro the frame onto the MDF panel.

LED light cable is taped to the frame.  the battery box got velcrod in place.

LED light cable is taped to the frame. the battery box got velcrod in place.

Step 8: Screw the legs onto their bases (I added pads o avoid scratching my floors).

Ikea Capita legs screwed into the holes used for attaching to a wall mount

Ikea Capita legs screwed into the holes used for attaching to a wall mount

Avoid scuffing your floors with foam protector pads; these were left over from a pack I used when we bought a new sofa.

Avoid scuffing your floors with foam protector pads; these were left over from a pack I used when we bought a new sofa.

Step 9: Apply one-way mirror film the glass (or better yet call Custom Glass Tinting).

Film on!
Film on!

Step 10: Lid on, looks good…

All that's left is....

All that’s left is. to…

Step 11: Flip the switch…

Can anyone see my kids down there?

Can anyone see my kids down there?

 

Step 12: …and watch your kids freak out.

sooooooooocooooool!!!!

sooooooooocooooool!!!!

Step 13: Time for a beer…job well done.

Done!

Done!

 

 UPDATE 10 December 2014: I’ve since come across another cool TV->Table conversion.

1)  TV Table 1: The Original Post on Reddit & the how-to photos & text

 

 

Creative Commons License
Infinity Coffee Table (including Text and Photos except those by BmoreArt) by Emilio M. Bruna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://brunalab.org/blog/2014/12/08/infinity-table-diy/.

22 thoughts on “I REPURPOSED MY BROKEN PLASMA TV INTO A COFFEE TABLE THAT MADE KIDS’ HEADS EXPLODE

  1. Pingback: How I repurposed my broken plasma TV into a coffee table that made kids’ heads explode

  2. John

    Nice work. I have the same dead Plasma TV with the dreaded 10 blinking lights…It’s been sitting around the house for a while. I just gutted it and I’m going to attempt to build this in the next couple of days. Thanks for the cool idea.

    1. Ben

      There is a guy on youtube called norcal715 and he has a Panasonic 10 blink repair video. Just replace the capacitor he replaced and not the chip and you will be good to go.

      1. Emilio M. Bruna Post author

        Yeah, I’ve seen all the videos. It’s not quite that easy, and there’s also the opportunity cost. The value of my time to fix it + parts >> Cost of a new TV.

  3. Ben

    I am Glad you guys wasted those great TV’s that only needed a 10 cent capacitor on the power supply. It takes me about 30 minutes to repair those sets.

    1. Ben

      Don’t get me wrong, you did a very good job. It is very cool. The guy who quoted you a repair price had to been out of his mind. I am going to start doing this with some of my plasmas that are actually unrepairable.

      1. Emilio M. Bruna Post author

        Nope – getting places to even open the back and look for the problem is a minimum of 80$. We’d had it repaired once before – a problem with a board – for 320$. Just not worth it.

    2. Emilio M. Bruna Post author

      One of the awesome things about the internet is that it gives people with incomplete knowledge of a situation’s specifics and no-to-limited experience with a subject area a place to give definitive opinions.

  4. Naz Mood

    Awesome job and great idea … my LG 42″ 3D LED just fell over and the screen cracked/leaked with only half working. A replacement screen or a new TV??!? So i was wondering what i could do with it.
    I guess i could just get some regular glass cut to size and replace the screen and make this table. I haven’t come across any other ideas …

  5. andre

    Good plan. Probably worth mentioning that for some minor hackery the plasma panel can be made to display data albeit at low brightness if the pip isn’t broken off.

      1. itsmutley

        Well well well – finally instructions that I can follow. I have a broken Samsung Plasma – 60 inch I think – and I feel very close to it and cannot part with it either. So this afternoon I will be tackling it to reincarnate it into a coffee table exactly the same as yours – sorry to a copy cat!! Your table is absolutely the most awesome piece I’ve ever seen. I’m always on the lookout for new projects and really thought this was magnificent. When I’ve completed it I will send you a photo – however it will be slow going as I’ll be doing it all by myself. Thank you so much for sharing your creation. Michele

  6. DRopers

    Sounds fun. Any danger of electricuting myself and tips about it? Don’t know if plasmas and LCDs are as dangerous as old CRTs in that respect.

  7. Pingback: Una mesa futurista, un mueble bar o una lámpara: 10 formas de reciclar tu viejo televisor | FIRS

  8. Pingback: Una mesa futurista, un mueble bar o una lámpara: 10 formas de reciclar tu viejo televisor • Grupo RMI

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