Creating a mini-secret passage for my TV
December 6, 2010 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Advice in making a spinning wall-mounted tv. I have this vision for mounting my 42" flat screen tv on a rotatable wall, so that you could push the wall in and the tv would rotate around into the other room. Kind of like the secret passages in cartoons where the whole fireplace turns around or something. I am finishing my basement so I am essentially starting from scratch. How could I do this?

I am thinking that there would be trim around the space on each side of the wall and opposite the tv would be some kind of art or applied graphic so it looks like a picture on the wall in the room opposite the TV.

Where could I get a turn-table type piece of hardware? What is that called? How would wiring work? Any advice and links would be welcome!
posted by pithy comment to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lazy susan? Pole mount with the wiring inside the pole?
posted by elsietheeel at 2:41 PM on December 6, 2010

Look for the hardware they use to make lazy susan cabinets. Or the ball-bearing "plate on plate" hardware they use to make rotating bar stools.

Frame the wall as if the hole is a window. Header, jack studs, etc.

Then build what would amount to either a small wall, or a piece of cabinetry to act as the wall for the TV. Possibly a piece of 3/4 plywood with some 1/4 drywall glued to it might be all it takes. Or a sandwich of drywall, plywood, attaching mechanism, plywood, drywall.

And don't forget to mount it all up in a way that makes sure the center of gravity is more or less on the pivot point. I can imagine a scenario where there is so much more weight on the TV side that the pivot hardware wears out prematurely and fails in an unpleasant manner.

Cable management might be an issue- I can't think of a way to solve that problem at the moment.
posted by gjc at 2:45 PM on December 6, 2010

The only problem is that the turntable/lazy Susan is likely to be larger in diameter than the wall is thick. A wall framed with 2x4 with 1/2 or 5/8 or Sheetrock on either side is still only six inches thick. Still sounds like a cool idea, but you might have to give up a little space to do it.
posted by fixedgear at 2:47 PM on December 6, 2010

fixedgear has a point about the thickness of the wall. You may want to mount shelves on both sides, so that you have enough width to accommodate the lazy Susan and all the TV brackets/wires/etc.
posted by xingcat at 2:58 PM on December 6, 2010

This set of instructions for a rotating bookcase from the DIY Network site might be useful.
posted by MsMolly at 3:01 PM on December 6, 2010

A few weeks ago I stayed in a hotel in Vaasa, Finland which had exactly the arrangement you are talking about (I believe). This is what it looked like (page background links to the hotel). I believe the TV was something like a 42 inch LCD mounted so that it would swivel on a vertical axis. Wires were fed in from the top near the pivot point. The point was to allow you to view the tv from within either the "office" or "bedroom" parts of the room. It was a new hotel and they speak great English - so they might be able to give you pointers to a supplier.
posted by rongorongo at 3:24 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would mount a center pole to serve as the center of rotation and then attach a plate to bearings seated on the pole. The plate then mounts a TV on one side. I would use something like a bullet catch so that it locks into place in either final position. I like McMaster-Carr as a source for hardware. Speaking of which, they have 4" lazy susans, if you wanted to go that route.

To deal with cable management, you may want to build it so that it can only rotate +/- 180 degrees. To make it free spinning would require a lot of work.
posted by pombe at 3:27 PM on December 6, 2010

Best answer: One of Rockler's Lazy Susan bearings is a 4" square form-factor rated to 300 lbs. That's thinner than a wall framed with 2x4s if you let it hang into the sheetrock a bit. Use a skate bearing (aka "608ZZ") or just whatever you pull out of the parts drawer at the hardware store for the top, most hardware stores carry a couple of basic roller or ball bearings that'll work fine to keep the whole thing upright . In fact, that Lazy Susan bearing has a hole in the middle, so you might just hang the whole thing from that so that the other bearing is carrying even less load and use a bronze bushing.

I think the hard part is just the joinery for the edges, you're going to want to build something you can plane down 'til it fits dead-on, and you should probably do the face plates for the wall and the face plate for the swinging segments as parts you can bolt on after it's finished so you can do fine-tuning adjustment for when those bearings aren't centered exactly where you thought they were. And so that you can yank them off and reposition them (and plane a little bit off) after the wood acclimatizes to your basement and your construction settles a bit.

Cable-wise, just make a protrusion that keeps your rotation only in one direction. You can leave enough slop cable in there for 180° no problem, and you'll replace the TV before the cables wear out from rotation.
posted by straw at 3:31 PM on December 6, 2010

I installed several of these on a talk-show set. You may want to make it not much bigger than the monitor, instead of a whole wall, with molding to hide it. We basically just used speed rail and their low-fi mounts (no bearings, it's totally smooth and the wear isn't as bad as you might think) and some quickly adapted stock wall-mounting kits to hang the monitors, then blacked the pipes. The monitors rotate from vertical to horizontal, and then spin on a pole to rotate through the wall. We then weighted the backs of the framed art to get it roughly similar.

As pombe said above, I rigged it to really only move 180 degrees, with enough slack and wire ties that now, several years later, I opened up the wall to do some maintenance and noticed no wear on the cables at all. We're not spinning it several times a day, but definitely several times a week, plus there's some back lighting in there as well.

YMMV, of course....this is in a television studio, and black is miraculous to hide lots of little messiness, even in the days of hi-def.
posted by nevercalm at 4:00 PM on December 6, 2010

I like skate's idea. For the cables, I'm envisioning a hole or plate on the top or bottom of the fixed wall, with enough length and slack in the cable and tie-downs on each end so that the 180 degree turn is absorbed by the entire length of cable, and so that the plugs and connectors aren't getting any strain.
posted by gjc at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2010

My grandparents did this in the 60s with a regular console TV! It would work even better today, since the TV is skinnier. They had to build out a small closet on the bedroom side to accommodate the depth. The only reason it stopped working well was when they got satellite TV and there were too many wires to contend with.
posted by wwartorff at 6:02 PM on December 6, 2010

At my old place we had a shallow closet in the living room that we put the flatscreen in. Whenever we opened the two slidey swingy doors to get access to the TV, we sang "BA DA BA DA!!!" in a very James Bond theme-y way. It was utterly satisfying.

So, to save the turnaround space and avoid having to deal with the cable issue, you could put the TV in an opaque cabinet or closet with cool sliding doors or a pair of awesome swinging hinged doors.
posted by brainwane at 8:39 PM on December 6, 2010

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