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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Resurrection of a Monster ...er, Monitor

Years ago, before flat panels came in, I bought at a very good price what not long before had been one of IBM's top of the line monitors. Black and a 21-incher, it was their model P-260. Companies that were clearing the way to making wholesale upgrades in their computer equipment would apparently sell their old stuff to a company called Merkor, who would then resell it to people like me who had long since decided that the best time to buy anything in the computer line was right after it became obsolete.

By today's standards this monitor was a monster, because it was built like a tank, it took up a huge amount of space on a computer desk, and it weighed a lot more than whatever its specifications said it did. Today I call it a "hernia inducer," becaused moving it around may have had something to do with the hernia operation that I had to have a little later.

But I was quite happy with it because it had such a great picture -- until one day its display got way too bright, and no amount of adjustment would correct it. Online research revealed that this was a universal problem with this variety of Sony-made Trinitron CRT, which was used not only on IBM monitors but also on those sold by a large number of other big computer companies.

The general concensus seemed to be that the handiest and only surefire cure was to replace a resistor, and that turned out to be easier than it sounds, though it was daunting anyway, because any kind of operation performed on a true monster cannot be taken lightly.

Actually my memory is saying that I didn't replace anything, because I found two resistors hooked up in there in series that looked to be the same kind of home job that I wanted to do, and both resistors were much larger than the replacements that I had bought. So I contented myself with just taking one out and thereby hopefully lowering the resistance in that regulator circuit a sufficient amount.

That improved things but not nearly enough, so next I called myself retiring that monitor permanently. As an alternative to taking it to the landfill, which would have been heavy work getting it into and out of the truck, I considered digging a deep hole somewhere on my property and burying the thing, and I was only kept from taking that crude road by my innate admiration of what a well-built piece of equipment that monitor was, and it still had a picture, though a badly faded one.

So I just let that thing sit off in an innocuous corner of my cluttered shop for another several years, while I used another surplus monitor -- a 17" Dell also with a Sony Trintron tube with a good picture.

But somewhere along the line, while switching things between buildings, a terrible memory lapse caused me to leave it sitting outside one night while it rained. But I had always wondered, hadn't I, what would happen if a monitor or a Tv were to be doused in some way?

I thought sure the Dell was ruined, but just to see, I stored it in a dry place, turned upside down to let water drain out, though I couldn't hear any sloshing around inside. And when I tried it three months later, lo and behold it worked as well as always.

That was three or four years ago. A few days ago the power cord connection at the rear of that monitor started smoking and flashing and sparking badly, though it was still delivering a picture. Nevertheless I decided that that wasn't safe, so I set the Dell out on my workshop deck with intentions of hauling it to the landfill for sure.

I then hauled the good ol' IBM P-260 back out of retirement, to use temporarily till I got around to getting a more modern and blessedly lightweight flat panel. This was easy to do and easy on my gut, because I had the 260 sitting right next to the computer desk,and so I just had to push it a few inches.

But meanwhile I got to tinkering with its adjustments once again, and I managed to darken its light blue screen to a dark gray, and that made it surprisingly usable again, with all the colors there, though muted, and all the information easily readable on that great big screen with that rock solid display, and suddenly I like this monitor again, and I'm very glad that I didn't cruelly leave it at the landfill or bury it in a dank hole.

And now all I have to do is to resolve to clear off the desk, wrestle that big heavy sucker over on its face without straining myself, and having another go at those resistors with a soldering iron.

It should be interesting, as such things always are.


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