Royal Purple Lissajous CRT

I brought my laser Lissajous curve machine (that degraded into a not-Lessajous curve machine) to our SGVTech meet, but it was not the only one there. [Emily] brought her salvaged CRT that she intends to turn into a Lissajous machine as well. Since I had brought my amplifier with me for my machine, it was easy to disconnect my contraption and connect to hers instead. Now, the stereo amp will be driving the CRT’s horizontal and vertical deflection coils instead of speakers. Unlike the last time we hooked this amp up to a CRT in this manner, we now have LRWave to control left and right audio channels independently.

Violet Lissajous back

This CRT was originally a black and white unit. To add some visual interest, [Emily] has coated it with Krylon Royal Purple Stained Glass Paint. I think the change is subtle but effective at communicating this is something special.

Another change for this experiment: we’ve switched platforms from Android to running LRWave on an old MacBook Pro. We’ve had recurring problems with random pops and crackles in output waveform, and since it’s a problem shared with the native signal generation app across three different Android devices, I suspect the root cause is somewhere within Android OS. Hence switching to MacOS as a change of pace to see if it also has the cracks and pops heard when running on LRWave. Or in the case of a CRT, seen on-screen as a sporadic scrambling of the curve. The switch was a good move. We had no unexpected noises for the rest of the night.

Violet Lissajous front

We got some very pretty curves, far better than what I got out of my laser LED and speaker apparatus. And unlike the speakers, a CRT deflection coil does not degrade as we send different wave forms through it. We had smooth curves throughout the entire test session, it did not degrade into squiggly abstract modern art.

Violet Lissajous closeup

Observations from the night:

  • LRWave can generate a more consistent signal running on MacOS than on Android.
  • Laser + mirrors + speakers are indeed accessible at lower cost and lower voltage, but speakers suffer damage when forced to reproduce arbitrary wave forms. Further evolution of my idea would require finding a different actuator to replace speakers.
  • CRTs can produce beautiful Lissajous curves, far smoother than any pixel-based flat panel display can. Furthermore, their deflection coils seem to suffer no damage from arbitrary wave forms pushed through them.
  • When a salvaged raster CRT like this unit is run at low speeds, there is a visible gap in the line that [Emily] credits to the beam occasionally cutting out for vertical blanking interval. Its effect can be mitigated by running at high speeds, or be used as intentional visual effect at low speeds.

[Emily] plans to spray a matte coating to reduce distracting reflections. I look forward to future progress on this project.

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