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QEII Student IT
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How dangerous is working on a CRT display?

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I've heard that taking apart a CRT can be dangerous so before I go ahead on the eMac teardown I plan to create for ifixit; how dangerous?

Edited by: Kyle Wiens ( ) , Nat Welch ( )

I have found theat the best way to ground a tube it to connect a jumper cable to a flathead screwdriver (Insulated) to the ground prong of a wall outlet, then slipping the screwdriver under the rubber cover (Holding the screwdriver by the insulated handle) and that should safely discharge it. I have done this to my G3 iMac multiple times, yet the procdure is standard.

Chris Green,

This is a nice place for the High Voltage tag...

Dave,

Here is how i do it, I have a Flathead screwdriver with a piece of wire, and I taped the wire on with electrical tape, and I have another one attached to the same wire due to the length, but is also insulated with electrical tape, then I will find a point on the CRT to attach the wire(usually on the implosion band, then stick it under the anode on both sides to be safe doing this. The trick is let it sit for a month to dissipate charge, and i just literally removed the CRT from an iMac G3 with a bad analog board, and cracking casing to see what can be done with it, and i'm not dead, or injured, and using a plastic handled scrwdriver, with bits of rubber for comfort

Nick,

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David Iwanicki
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A CRT can hold several THOUSAND volts of electricity in its flyback circuitry. If you do not have the necessary experience and tools to properly discharge and make safe a CRT, you should not even take the plastic cover off. There is also the chance of physically damaging the fragile neck of the CRT, leading to a violent implosion as the vacuum is released. This could spray poisonous, phosphor-covered shards of glass all over the room.

Mac Geniuses must pass the CRT safety section of the certification exam with a 100% score every year - it's that serious of a safety issue.

Also, don't think a CRT which has been powered off for a long period of time will be safe - the CRT will slowly continue to build static electricity just due to the Earth's rotation and magnetic fields.

Peachpit Press has an excellent excerpt from its Training Series books discussing CRT safety here:

http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article...

Servicing a CRT-based Macintosh should be left to the professionals due to the inherent dangers. I avoid them as much as possible, even though I am thoroughly trained, with decades of experience working on CRT-based computers, monitors, and test equipment.

Edited by: Miroslav Djuric ( )

You're absolutely right, but it is possible to do it on your own. You'd just have to build your own CRT discharge tool out of a coathanger, rubber handle, and a grounding wire. The 'leave one hand behind your back' suggestion is standard practice for dealing with high voltages.

Kyle Wiens,

Does that apply to televisions as well ? A friend of my dad who knew a bit about them used to tinker with them and I'm 200% sure he hasn't even heard of any certification exam.

Anky,

Yes, some televisions (All Tubes) use highly charged CRT's as well.

Chris Green,

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Ptr702
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Working at an authorized apple repair center a few years back, I was discharging an eMac CRT, as I was prying off the cap the alligator clip popped off the ground and made contact. I was blown black into my other bench, hand smoking... Worst pain i have ever felt, I think I even peed myself. I can still remember the feeling today. So just be very very very very careful when you discharge it, or if you don't feel comfortable, take it to a tv repair shop and let the pros take the risk... I no longer discharge the emacs, I leave it up to my other techs.

long screwdriver grounded by a 10k resistor worked for me well - just be AWARE

Spikey2,

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rj713
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I found Davids response very useful having serviced crts as a Navy ET for more than 20 yrs and highly recommend paying close attention to the article. The life you save may be your own. I would also caution early iMacs also have crts. I have repaired both practicing safety measures in Davids article. I would strongly recommend someone not trained to handle crts to avoid them if possible.

Edited by: Kyle Wiens ( )

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cbsimkins
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A CRT, especially older ones, can act as a capacitor. That means that if you discharge the tube at the anode, it may still build up a charge over time and so you should always keep a ground attached to drain the charge. Older tubes tend to not discharge the entire charge initially and after a while the charge returns to dangerous levels. Working on one is better left to trained technicians.

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pnauta
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I agree with the cautions above. The bigger the screen (distance between the cathode and anode) the higher the voltage, which can be 25 000 volts or higher. Voltage does not kill, but current. The higher the voltage, the larger the current that will flow through your body and affect it. So, take extreme care. I had years of experience, but was always on edge when working on the high voltage circuit of CRT's.

Implosion is not that likely: put the viewing side of the CRT on a stack of towels, you'll be OK. These CRT's have to be tested before they get to be put in front of anyone's eyes, and are designed for really low pressures (vacuum). Just don't apply any uneven pressure, and stay away of the neck because that's the weak part.

As with all devices, disconnect from power source as a first step.

There's a cable with a rubber plug or shield on top which is the culprit. It keeps it's high voltage because there's a whole array of diodes and capacitors to get the electrons going the right way. The diodes keep current going in one way, the capacitors work like batteries. This cascade achieves a high voltage using an alternating voltage, and it requires extra circuitry and a risk of failure to make it discharge when the set is powered off. There's little current needed to illuminate the screen, but as it takes some time for your CRT to actually light up, you can figure there's a lot of electrons just waiting to take a route through your body.

We used to disconnect the rubber plug on top (anode) by using two long screw drivers with good isolated handles. As extra, wear rubber gloves. One would touch the metal frame, one would be used to pry undert the plug, then cross these two metal rods to short out. Another method would be to take a wire with crocodile clips and connect it to the frame on the one side and the screw driver on the other end. Pliers can be used to press together the metal clips under the rubber shield, when at least one side can be pryed loose, it will come off. You should always try a second discharge as a final check.

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QEII Student IT
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Actually, I think I'll just leave it to someone else to do a teardown, thanks for the answers!

I partially agree with you. Yes, it would be foolish to try yourself. NO, you should not leave it for someone else, there are many good reasons documented here that tell us there should never, ever be a teardown done on a CRT. It's just NOT A DIY DEVICE!

fairleymac,

No worries! I didn't mean to come across in such a pushy manner. Just semantics really, but I wanted to convey my thoughts that it really is "only for the pros".

fairleymac,

Yep, I understand. I think I'll leave it to someone who knows what they're doing!

QEII Student IT,

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Brian
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Just to add to all this, a family member who did repair work for over 20 yrs, and a person that does not exaggerate this kind of thing witnessed a CRT implode and put a hole in a basement CMU wall. Someone hit the tip/neck.

This was for a TV im sure, since it was a long time ago. The implosion is of such force everything goes in opposite directions just like a bomb, just with negative pressure from vacuum and nasty gasses. Once of the few electronic devices that can really hurt or kill you in more then one way.

Boiler systems can do this as well, usually only causing damage to internal components. If your working on taking a boiler off line and don't vent it, you can create some really bad negative pressure. its enough pressure to suck a man threw a hatch doing maintenance without follow the SOP. (resulting in death). It was a big boiler.

Safety tech is good now, but isn't enough to completely eliminate human error, just like fixing one of these older models, a simple mistake can result in craziness, not worth it to me fixing such an older computer when I could pick up a working powerbook etc for approx. $100

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rickwag
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I worked on a lot of CRT screens back in the 80’s. That rubber cap on the back of the CRT is where the voltage from the fly back transformer comes in. WARNING: THIS VOLTAGE IS HIGH ENOUGH TO REACH OUT AND TOUCH YOU! Do not try to measure this voltage with a standard multi-meter; you have to have a special hi-voltage probe, which is long and insulated. That extremely hi voltage is needed to push the electron stream across the vacuum space in the CRT; I have seen in excess of 40KV on some systems. We used to use a long flat blade screwdriver with a ground cable attached. Push the screwdriver tip under the edge of the rubber cup, you may see a spark. Then it would be discharged. If you are disposing the CRT it should have the vacuum pressure released. To release the pressure there is a metal connector under the rubber cup. Once the CRT has been discharged, disconnect the connector under the rubber cup. You will see the little metal connector nub underneath. You can cut that with diagonal cutters and you will hear the vacuum hiss; that is air rushing in the CRT tube. After that you can safely break the back of the CRT tube if that is your plan.

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teddyotoole
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I agree totally with the answers on here,As a television engineer i worked on crt's in the early years and believe me! they can pack a punch even after discharge as they do built up static,i still have scars where they arced across to my hands and burned little pin holes in them! So i would advise you to leave it up to a professional.

Teddy.

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erik Wanberg
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Discharging CRTs is a relatively simple process, the concept is no different than what occurs when you see a spark from static electricity which has been stored in your body when you touch grounded metal. The key difference is the charge. The CRT stores thousands of volts when turned on and uses this high voltage store to supply the required energy for picture display and continually replenishes it, but when the tv is off normally there is a slow discharge and although a charge can be present in CRTs even if they haven't been used for some time, this usually is not a significant amount compared to the extremely high voltage when turned on. However, it can s be enough to take precautions to avoid. The potential lethality is overexaggerated and it should be reassuring to remember that though the voltage is extremely high, it is current that is dangerous. High voltage contact tends to to travel across the skin to ground without touching organs, and if discharged properly there is little chance of shock. I highly recommend a large flathead with a hefty insulated handle and a ground wire with alligator clips to connect the screwdriver to a working ground in an outlet (don't use metal case or other ground as cir uitboard damage can occur) and rubber gloves are not a bad idea but just in case of accidental shock one hand behind the back reduces risk of electrical path near the heart. Insert screwdriver carefully under rubber anode seal to discharge, a second time is not a bad protection, and that's it. Dozens of discharges with 0 incidents. One word of advice, only discharge when absolutely necessary. The potential damage to circuitboards, the glass under the rubber seal, yourself, etc. Is great enough to avoid unless there is a clear need.

Good luck, and remember that the CRT anode is preferable to a high current such as might be hiding in a capacitor or it's connecting leads. And tube implosion is not common, but do not forget to use care especially when picking one up because though not likely since the glass can handle more than a thousand pounds and not break, that doesn't mean it can't happen and I would rather grab a charged CRT anode than have a tube implode

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machead3
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Deadly -AFAIK CRT's as TV's have large capacitors that can hold enough juice to kill, for days after being unplugged.

There's also the posiblity of CRT implosion.

TV technicians had grounding procedures to drain the charge..proceed with extreme caution!

Edited by: machead3 ( )

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mac605
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I was able to replace disks and CDs in a few eMacs, without discharging (Yes, I know, formally it was not the smartest idea)

My remarks:

1. eMacs (especially older ie 700MHz) were Big PITA to disassemble

2. I followed Apple Service Manuals for those models - don't even thing about disassembling eMacs without them (or iFixit guides ;)

3. I tried keep as far as possible from CRT (it was not so hard after all - after I removed cover, disconnected Power button (another PITA), and then disconnected 2 or 3 cables around CRT I have to unplug, I have to concentrate on the bottom of eMac, where logic board/CD (yeah, there were models with CD-ROM drive only). Another PITA.

4. CRT was integrated with front cover, and it looks as really Non-User-Servicable-Part

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jackhilby
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You must discharge the yolk but i agree if your new at it,DONT TRY IT

YOU can and Might KILL Yourself, if you must try to save your life you need thick strand wire thats heavely insolated ,ex. jumper cables (car jumper cables) and a true earth ground, best bet solid copper pipe directly pushed into your yard about 3 feet,and an electricians standard high voltage screw driver you can tell them by the rubber coating goes all the way to the tip well abot 1 inch, connect jumper cable clamp to the non insulated part of the screw driver and the other clamp on the copper rod you buried 3 feet in the ground,you cannot touch any part of the plain metal ,take the tip of the screw driver and slide it carfully under the suction cup on the tube aim towards the center

of the cup to were the anode is untill your hear a snap and a big blue spark.you could however realistically connect the cable clamp to the unpainted part of the monitor (CRT) frame and do the same thing,but to be safe go with the copper rod.

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imran
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I agree with Mr DAVID CRT hold thousand of voltage in fly back if u have no experiance plz do not work in CRT

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altaf
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I agree that CRT Monitor Has 25000 wait it Enough to Kill you in Seconds. Don't Try it all .

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mbear
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Yes, a CRT can kill you with the electrical charge it carries.

And yes, older TV sets DO use CRTs, so you can kill yourself working on them as well.

So don't do it. Pay someone else (who has all the correct equipment and health insurance) to do it.

There's no shame in asking for help. After all, Superman has the Justice League to help him out when he needs it.

Let me say it this way: Any repair procedure that advises you to only use one hand and keep the other behind your back so you don't complete a circuit across your heart is something you really don't want to mess with, IMHO.

Edited by: mbear ( )

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Nick
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Avoid it if you do not feel comfortable, these things are pretty risky and can kill you if you are not careful, it's the amps that kill, not volts

If you want to try this, here is how you do it, but do so at your own risk(I found out how to do it right 2 YEARS later), however, I DON'T recommend trying it regardless

You can make a discharge tool in a much faster way tough, just get a Flathead screwdriver with a rubber handle and a thick alligator clip

On the CRT, there will be a spring like structure on it, clip one end of the alligator clip, and one to the end of the screwdriver

Put one hand behind your back to prevent a high voltage circuit in your body

Stick the screwdriver under the anode of the CRT on the side(this is a rubber cap), and it should make a loud snap if it has a charge, if you do this a few times, the voltage is drained

If anyone tries this, know it's VERY dangerous to do, this is for informational/ educational purposes only

I did one, and am pretty comfortable doing it, but results will vary for each person, so it ultimately depends on your comfort level with high voltage, if you do, let it sit for a month or two, and then discharge it

When you make the tool, DO NOT cheap out on wire, it's cheap, I got my wire from a dead AT power supply I needed to recycle, and i have enough wire, if not too much; AT power supplies are perfect for this because back then, the power supply manufacturers didn't cheap out on wire

I have 2 wires on one lead, 2 shorter ones combined and insulated, and i can ground again with that to the aquadaq, should i need it

Edited by: Nick ( )

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Sterling Hirsh,

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Marko
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W O W guys... I was about to try to disassemble an Apple CRT studio display and looking for an "how to" guide but was totally not aware of these risks... I wanted to make an aquarium from the casing but will think twice now... Thanks!

There would be too many holes, all the fish would fall out.

QEII Student IT,

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Autoharp Bill
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Grounding it to a wall outlet does nothing; there is a grayish-black coating on the outside bell of the CRT (called Aquadag) and you will notice some type of metal spring or finger touching it - THIS is what you want to ground the wire to.

But even more important the CRT is made of glass and it contains an extremely high vacuum. If it breaks it will implode and glass will go flying everywhere. I strongly recommend at least wearing safety glasses before handling it.

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Dustin Jones
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It has 5lbs of exposed lead inside of it.

You wear a "flack jacket" when you get an x-ray at the dentist for a reason. Also, many laws prevent businesses (or offer incentives) for not dumping broken CRT monitors because the lead leaks into the environment and causes alot of damage.

Lead is very harmful to the body, I wouldn't chance it if you'll going inside of it.

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