Fixing TV with Magnets
October 6, 2004 9:32 AM   Subscribe

So Crazy It Just Might Work Dept.: I first heard about this solution to a magnet-defaced TV here on the green, and I'm wondering if anyone here has any firsthand experience with it. Any tips or tricks? Also, what kind of magnets should I be looking for, and where can I find them? The best CompUSA, Menards or the local hobby shop could offer were some tiny horseshoes that could live a couple of pounds. What kind of store would stock something like these? (I'm in Madison, WI.)
posted by blueshammer to Technology (14 answers total)
Try American Science and Surplus...

They offer shipping online. Or you could stop by the one in Milwaukee.
posted by drezdn at 9:50 AM on October 6, 2004

Wow, neato!

Go to UW SWAP, which is where the University sells all of its decommissioned stuff -- including tons of old, dead computers for parts. Hard drive magnets galore. Big, nasty ones that will give you a blood blister if you're not careful. (Ask me how I know!) They're only open on Friday mornings (unless you have a non-profit checkbook, then you can get in on Thursday morning).

There's also American Science and Surplus in Milwaukee or on-line. (On preview: yes! Faster fingers.)

How many powerful magnets do you need? I can look in the basement, we have quite a stock of dead computer crap. ("For parts!" ugh.)
posted by mimi at 9:52 AM on October 6, 2004

When I was a kid, I did the magnet thing with the TV too. I had a cassette tape head degausser from radio shack, waved it around the TV screen, which fixed it. It was a power cord, a coil of wire and a metal tip, probably cost $5.00 then.

Radio shack doesn't seem to sell them anymore. Google found this site, but they are $50.00 or $66.00 now.
posted by jjj606 at 10:01 AM on October 6, 2004

I don't know if I'd bring this thing near a TV, but if these pictures are any indication, gaussbous certainly seems to sell some powerful magnets.
posted by mragreeable at 10:11 AM on October 6, 2004

er... make that "gaussboys." The url's fine though.
posted by mragreeable at 10:14 AM on October 6, 2004

How degaussing coils work is informative. Offers suggestions on where to buy them, salvage them, improvise them, or build them.
posted by cairnish at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2004

What relation does this have to the "degauss" command some tube monitors have? All I know is that pressing it makes the image wiggle for a second. What's that about?
posted by scarabic at 11:58 AM on October 6, 2004

Same effect, scarabic. It basically resets the magnetic field that the cathode ray tube shoots its electrons at, sort of, more or less. Many modern CRT monitors degauss on startup.

I picked up a couple of 1/8"-diameter rare earth magnets at Radio Shack, but I doubt they'll be powerful enough. A large part of my hunt today was simply for the instant gratification of fixing my TV tonight, but if I have to order what I really need, c'est la vie.

And mimi, thanks for reminding me of SWAP, which I haven't been to in ages. So, OK: What's the story of the blood blister?
posted by blueshammer at 12:10 PM on October 6, 2004

A human finger should not come between two very powerful harddrive magnets, or a very powerful harddrive magnet and the refrigerator. Generally, though, they're usually pretty oddly shaped with protruberances so you can get a decent purchase on them when pulling them off things. If the ones you got from RS don't work, e-mail me and I'll see what I can find for you. (We're in Madison, too.)
posted by mimi at 12:30 PM on October 6, 2004

I don't know where to get the magnets or what type you would need, but I remember doing this ten years ago or so by hand. We didn't have any drills and didn't need them...

posted by pwb503 at 4:48 PM on October 6, 2004

Sweet.. it's been a long time coming but someone I don't know finally linked to my site in metafilter. (notice that it has the same domain name as my posting name.)

I've uploaded a short AVI that will show what it looks like for the faint at heart.

I can assure you that: 1) It does work 2) it looks darn cool 3) Its kinda spooky.

I've also had a number of people email me regarding how it worked well for them, or asking me if it really does work.
posted by woil at 5:49 PM on October 6, 2004

FYI, I did an eBay search for "degausser" and though I didn't find any of the old Radio Shack cassette degaussers (which I have somewhere, and has fixed a TV or two) there were some degaussing coils specifically made for fixing TVs, going for about $30. Maybe worth it?
posted by mmoncur at 6:42 PM on October 6, 2004

Oh, for all your weird magnet needs, there's always forcefield. I ordered a bunch a while ago and can recommend them.
posted by mmoncur at 6:44 PM on October 6, 2004

There are magnets in microwaves. I guarantee you that you can find a broken microwave on any garbage day without too much looking. These magnets are strong enough to hurt you if you get some skin stuck in between.
posted by ashbury at 7:21 PM on October 6, 2004

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