Introduction: Fixing a Monitor With a Breadmaker: AKA Don't Throw It Out!

Locally in Victoria, BC we have a guy who is taking discarded but usable IT equipment and passing it back to the community for free. His efforts are keeping used electronics out of landfills and helping people out which is fantastic. I picked up a monitor from him the other day and whilst it was indicating that power was available, no video was displayed. Noting the efforts that he goes to in order to recycle I really didn't want to just dump the monitor. After a bit of Googling, some disassembly and basic repairs, I now have a working monitor (and the admiration of my sons!).

I am not saying that at the end of this Instructable you will be able to repair your defective monitor, but hopefully you will have an idea on the methods that I use when investigating and repairing items, and what is possible when you look around you.

Safety. Please ensure that you observe any and all safety precautions when working on electronic equipment. Lethal voltages can be present and if you do not know what you are doing, leave the repair to those that do.

Step 1: Tools

  • A broken device (in this case a monitor)
  • Screwdrivers
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • The Internet!

Step 2: Troubleshooting

One of the most powerful tools that we now have in our toolboxes is the internet. There are vast amounts of information available on nearly every subject.

It should be the starting point for nearly every project unless you are the expert that wrote that particular wiki page.

A quick search on my particular monitor type and "no display" indicated that the capacitors on the driver board are a common failure point. With this in mind, the work began!

Step 3: Disassemble

Every monitor is likely to be different so I am not going to go into to specific details here. As I said in the previous step, the internet is your friend and you may be able to find detailed instructions on how to take yours apart. In my case, the internet failed me.... So the following is what you want to think about if you can't find disassembly instructions:

  • Look for visable screws and identifying marks. Sometimes manufacturers put a diamond bedside the screws that need to be removed for disassembly.
  • Look for invisable screws. Sounds wrong but go with it! Have a good look and think about where the major stress points are, then look for lables or plastic covers that are hiding addition screws. My monitor had a couple where the stand attached. The stand is unlikely to be just clipped on so there had to be something else securing it.
  • Keep a record of which screws came from which hole. I have found that you will often end up with three or four different screw lengths, it is frustating when you didn't observe this during removal.
  • Look for lever points on the joint between the two halves. There will often be small cutouts on the join where a screwdriver can be inserted to split the two halves of the display. This is always a nervious step as a fair bit of pressure is required but you obviously don't want to break anything. Keep a close eye on the joint and if it isn't coming apart easily, look for more screws.
  • Once you have the back off the monitor, there may be another cover over the electronics. Same as step one, look for screws and remove.

Step 4: Inspect and Replace Defective Component

My friend, the internet, indicated that the capacitors in this type of monitor often fail and therefore this is where I started looking. It was immediately obvious that one capacitor was bulging and didn't look to be in the best condition, so it was my focus. All the other capacitors where checked but only one looked to be in bad condition.

Before the capacitor or any component is removed, you need to check its polarity to ensure that the replacement is inserted correctly. This should be printed on the circuit board but I have seen cases where this has not occured. Specifically for capacitors, ensure they are fully discharged prior to removal.

Remove the component and source an equivalent. Check the part for identifying features - the capacitor I removed had the values on the side, so I checked in my garage before heading to a shop. I was lucky enough to have a replacement on the control board of an old breadmaker that happened to be in the garage. I may have only saved a few cents but it is a good justification as to why so many broken items stack up in the shed!

Solder in the replacement item making sure the correct polarity is observed. Also take the opportunity to check the board again for any other items that may have failed (burn marks), foreign objects causing a short etc.

Once the component is replaced the monitor can be reassembled. This is simply the reverse of however you got the monitor apart.

Step 5: Test

Power up the monitor before plugging it into your computer or laptop. It should power cycle and then show that it has nothing connected to its input. I like to do this "smoke test" prior to connecting it to my good equipment just in case...

Once you are happy that everything is working correctly, turn off the monitor, connect to your PC and bask in the glory of fixing an item that was destined for a landfill!

I admit that I got lucky with the capacitor showing an obvious defect, you may not be so. In this case some basic test equipment should be able to narrow down possible issues. Yet again, the internet will be your friend in this quest.

I hope that this Instructable has given you some ideas on a basic monitor repair and that you will have a go rather than simply throwing it away.

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