Equipment healing!

Last couple of days I wasn’t able to use my machine. My monitor, which was slowly dying on me for a while, got to the point he was blowing out his last breath. The screen slowly fading out to eternal darkness.

Somehow, I almost felt relieved. Disconnected from the internet, games, all that stuff that is costing me way too much time, so I deliberately didn’t do a thing about it for a day or two. I still have a crappy old laptop that can handle mail and a single page in it’s browser, so nothing really crucial was missing.

Usually, I’m easy with broken things. I get rid of it and buy brand new stuff. That’s a lot faster and easier. Especially with electronics, an upgrade is always nice too, so any excuse to get something new and better is happily accepted.

This monitor was kinda valuable to me though. It’s one of the last high resolution non-wide screen monitors around and those almost impossible to get anymore, unless you’re willing to pay 3x as much as a comparable widescreen monitor.

I hate widescreens. I never understood why anyone would wanna buy one (except as TV), but apparently everyone does. I think the name “wide” is misleading. It’s not wider, it’s flatter. I’ve got the same huge left & right borders when I’m browsing as widescreen users have (especially on pages like this, that still focus on 800 width screens), but I don’t have to scroll up and down after every single line I read. I sometimes even turn this screen a quarter circle to get a “high” screen, which is great for blogging, text editing, browsing: anything except gaming, graphical work, or watching movies of course, but I’ve got a big ass TV for that, so I’m not going to watch movies on a TFT monitor.

Gaming on a widescreen is gimping yourself . Definitely if you’re also an FPS gamer like I am, but even games like wow have problems. You need to scan your eyes over the entire screen like you’re watching a tennis match. This takes more time than you might think, and it seems like you see more, you actually see less, because if you see the right side of your screen, you hardly see what happens left. The biggest annoyance however is that the huds leave an even smaller part of screen usable. It’s easier to overlook the voidzone on a wide screen.

But enough of the rant, I realize I’m probably a minority with this opinion anyway. The point is, this monitor will be difficult to replace.

After a long unsuccessful search for a decent replacement for my monitor, I got pissed off and tore the damn thing open. Perhaps something could be fixed. Old CRT monitors usually had loose components, which you could easily fix with €5,- soldering iron (or the old fashioned smack on the side), who knows, perhaps  TFT monitors have similar problems. I couldn’t see anything wrong with this thing though, no smoking parts, black burns, rat nests, nothing.

I didn’t want to give up yet, so I searched the internet (what else?). At first I couldn’t find anything. Everywhere the conclusion was simple: TFT broke, throw it away, buy new… I still kept searching and searching until I finally stumbled upon this page. I don’t even know how I got there anymore, but it promised that TFT monitors could easily be fixed, something that I was hoping to find!

The main tip was: check for broken condensers. Broken condensers are easily spotted because of their bulgy top: these supposed to be flat. For the non electronic experts, condensers look like this:

And I found two that were broken! The pictures shows one of them, if you look carefully you can see it’s not perfectly flat.

I took a gamble (not much to lose anymore), went to the local electrical store, bought new ones, replaced them at home with a crappy old soldering iron. And what do you know, it worked! My dead monitor is alive again! The screen looks so bright again, like new.

It has been running for a few hours now, and still no explosions, regional power outs, or even a broken fuse!

What do you know, I’m an equipment healer too now 😛

If you’re not afraid of a screwdriver and a soldering iron, keep that site bookmarked. Broken condensers seems to be a common cause for monitors to break down, it’s quite easy to fix and can save a bunch of money. And there’s not much to lose anyway… Well, perhaps some burned fingers, or a chance of electrocution, but that’s a small price to pay, right? 😉


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April 2010
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