intentionally causing crt burn-in
September 3, 2011 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Any tips on intentionally causing CRT burn-in?

I want to burn an image into a CRT monitor. Apart from continuously displaying a black & white image with the contrast all the way up, anything I need to do? How long can I expect it to take? I found a lot online on how to avoid burn-in, not much on causing it.
posted by rottytooth to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
If you are comfortable opening it up, you can find the sub-brightness control, if you can find it. It's usually labeled as such.

Sometimes, as well, there is a high-voltage adjustment. Crank it up, if you have one/can find one. You may make some X-rays, FWIW.

Best if possible to get a schematic of the monitor. It may take a while, and I admit to never having tried to do it intentionally.
posted by FauxScot at 9:45 AM on September 3, 2011

You're going to want an older monitor as well. Even later CRTs had the ability to cycle pixels faster than a person can see, but often enough to avoid burn in.

You're still probably looking at a year.

If this is for an art project of something you might want to fake it.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2011

Does it have to be a particular image that's burned in? You may be able to find a used security or arcade monitor that's already burned.
posted by moonmilk at 10:06 AM on September 3, 2011

Yeah, it's for an art project and I do need a particular image. How old a CRT should I seek out? I have two I picked up on the street (they're made in 2003 and 2005), but they seem easy to find on Craigslist if these won't work -- just not sure what to look for, in terms of monitors that will probably work.
posted by rottytooth at 10:26 AM on September 3, 2011

Old monochrome monitors were particularly susceptible to this. But that means a pre-VGA interface for which getting a video adapter might be an issue. Some early VGA monitors might be easier to get a hold of and to connect. Try garage sales and the like. I would expect most businesses have recycled theirs by now but individuals might still have them.
posted by tommasz at 10:32 AM on September 3, 2011

If you are comfortable opening it up, you can find the sub-brightness control, if you can find it. It's usually labeled as such.

This is a very very very dangerous thing to do. CRTs contain capacitors that can carry a lethal charge for weeks even when unplugged. You have to be very very very sure of what you're doing.
posted by kmz at 11:29 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]

The CRT does not contain a capacitor. The CRT is the actual tube, and it is animated by other components in the CRT monitor, which is a type of monitor. The tube itself has a filament, grids, a plate (cathode) and an anode, which is the positive part of the tube containing the phospors.

The anode voltages are in the mid kilovolt range... 10-30 KV, depending on the size of the CRT in the CRT monitor.

Yes, the CRT holds a charge, and it's a good idea to discharge it and keep from being surprised. In many sets, the high voltage has bleeder resistors to drop the high voltage after the set is off. Most modern CRT monitors have high voltages only in one area, and that's why it's wise to HAVE A SCHEMATIC. There are substantial supplies for operating the horizontal and vertical sweep circuits, and these caps have medium voltages, though the actual level is set-dependent.

It's really not a good idea to do this UNLESS YOU ARE COMFORTABLE OPENING IT UP, which in English, means "competent". Obviously, unplugging it is warranted, and being familiar with high voltage is the best situation.

The man asked. This is, after all, askmetafilter. It's totally unwarranted, but my assumption is that he's not a complete putz and can self-identify whether he's competent.

Not all monitors have sub-brightness controls, but many do. If I were doing this, that's what I'd look for.

Incidentally, even LCD based laptops have substantial voltages if they use non-LED backlights for the LCD.

Here is more info than you want. Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 12:22 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

the last time I saw a monitor with burn-in, it was a screen from the early nineties. something like an old IBM 8515 monitor (which, coincidentally. does have a VGA adapter, so you can plug it into a modern PC). I'd wager that anything built in this century has anti-burn-in protection of some sort on it, unless it was exceedingly cheap when it was new. you might check goodwill. plan on leaving it on for at least two weeks, with a static image and the brightness turned all the way up.

FWIW, and this might not be an option given what you have in mind, plasma screen TVs (esp. old ones) are pretty prone to burn-in as well. we had a couple displaying a campus map at my old workplace, and after about a week or so of that they were more-or-less ruined. that said, the plasma's going to be way bigger than a CRT monitor.
posted by mrg at 1:51 PM on September 3, 2011

I managed to burn a nice image (No Signal) into a 50" plasma over the course of a weekend. It was a Pioneer PDP-436PE from about 2004 - 2005. Yeah, I was surprised too!
posted by pandabearjohnson at 3:04 PM on September 3, 2011

OutsideTheBox: What if you put the CRT in a laser cutter and tried to "etch" the phosphor?
posted by trevyn at 5:10 PM on September 3, 2011

The CRT glass is opaque at 1090nm, the wavelength of most CO2 lasers. The beam will etch the glass but never reach the phosphor.

Maybe sunlight focused with a magnifying glass... but be careful about causing too much heat stress to the tube.
posted by fake at 5:14 PM on September 3, 2011

That's 1060nm. Oops.
posted by fake at 6:32 PM on September 3, 2011

Depending on how you're generating the imagery shown on the CRT, it might be easier to just fake it digitally. It's been a while since I've seen burn-in - hell, the only CRTs I've seen lately are the two cocktail video game cabinets in a local coffee shop - so I can't suggest blending modes to use, but I don't think it should be a terribly complex proposition. It might even be the kind of thing you could fake in realtime with analog video mixing hardware.
posted by egypturnash at 1:18 AM on September 4, 2011

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