Repairing LCD Monitor: How NOT to Become Planned Obsolescence Victim




Introduction: Repairing LCD Monitor: How NOT to Become Planned Obsolescence Victim

About: Cyclist, hand made knives enthusiast and cnc fan!

Probably anyone, who are interested in technology heard something about "planned obsolescence". There are some descriptions, how to understand this term, but my favourite is the first one popularized. In 1954, engineer Brooks Stevens said that planned obsolescence is "Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary."
This time we will try to fight against planned malfunctions, by bringing back to life our favourite LCD.

Step 1: LCD Tango Down

In my case, LCD could not establish connection with graphic card. Monitor resets after catching correct video signal. It has been lasting 15-40min; and then, after one of resets, LCD catches signal and works correctly until video signal is present.

Placing heat-sensitive electrolyte capacitor near elements which are emitting a LOT OF energy by heat is one of the most common method to reduce life time of product. This causes faster loose of capacitance and, in effect, failure of element. And this, exactly, happens to me.

Step 2: Disassembling LCD

Detach all of the cables connected to monitor. Put it on flat surface, display down. Remove all screws and stand. Almost all cases are joined together with clips. Using flat screwdriver you have to separate both pieces of casing. Screwdriver should be as parallel to the edge, as possible. Put it in the bottom of panel, in crevice between parts of case. Slowly push it up, till clips releases.
Use your engineer sixth sense to dismantle EMC shields.
When You get to cables, make photo of all connectors, it will be big help in assembling. When photos are done, You can disconnect all connectors.

When cables were disconnected, i could take out box with PCBs. Locating power supply is easy: look for the board with soldered power socket.

Step 3: Looking for Broken Elements

Check all the electrolytic capacitors in supply module, especially the biggest ones and all those, which are placed near radiators or active elements in big packages. Broken capacitor symthomps:
  • convex on the side,
  • convex on the top,
  • woobling of capacitor,
  • something crumbly under the capacitor,
  • some kind of powder on the top.
If near the capacitor is bulge of rubberish thing – it's just glue.
As You can see in the image, two of my capacitors were broken – strange powder on convexed top. Mark the polarisation.
You have to desolder all bad capacitors from PCB.

Step 4: Soldering

Check parameters of desoldered capacitors – capacitance and maximum voltage rating. When You got it, it is time to buy new elements.
The new ones should have same or bigger operating voltage, same or bigger capacitance and should be designed to work properly 105 degree Celsius and should be "LOW E.S.R.". This parameter means that capacitor will work well longer than older ones. Solder capacitors to the board.

Assemble monitor.

Connect power cable, turn power on. If there wasn't any fireworks, try to connect it to the graphic card.


Step 5: System Is Defeated

Using 1-2$ parts, I have repaired my LCD. Sounds much better than spending a few hundreds for another monitor., huh?

Now take your brand new iPhone, look at it. Ask yourself a question "do i really need it?". And remember the definition of Planned Obsolescence... ;)

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94 Discussions

There was a problem with electrolytic capacitors in computers and various other hardware from around 2000 until 2007 so it may not have been planned obsolescence?
I had computer motherboard with several 'bulged' caps but only recently decided to replace them (I need a box to run Win 95)

5 replies

It is not planned obsolescence, that theory can't be justified in any market where there is competition. In a competitive market if one brand fails prematurely then the customer either is an additional cost under warranty fulfillment or buys a different brand which is a loss of a sale.

The actual reason is that lower quality capacitors cost less. The beancounters tell the engineers to use the cheapest parts available that will do the job at least as long as the warranty period for "most" of the units made.

However, keep in mind that many of these capacitors are only rated for a mere 2000 to 4000 hours on their datasheets. If the monitor is on 12 hours a day that is between 6 months and a year of operation. The main reason they last longer than that is they run at a lower temperature than the max rated temp, but it is a guessing game exactly how long they will actually last.

However, ultimately it is the heat that makes them wear out sooner than desired. The power supply is contained in a metal shielding box inside and customer keep wanting small and thin displays so the passive airflow is not conductive to a cool running power supply.

I got a notification of reply to this thread, don't know how I missed this one?

Planned obsolescence is a fact of life,no matter which way you dress it up. Even 'people' have a 'best before date' of around 70~80yrs. Some go on for longer, some 'wear out sooner' and some 'self destruct' due to operating condidtions

The quote from Brooks Stevens in the article however was not in fact referring exclusively to Planned "self destruct" mechanisms in hardware.
Primarily, he was referring to the way "new things" are socially engineered to feel superior to the buyer. Manufacturers will release something, sometimes they might know it could be more feature-full, but it isn't.
Tthen they release a version with more features a few years later. So you can create "obsolescence" without necessarily making the product destroy itself.
It was also, by industry, as part of marketing - noticed that you could make products "socially unnaceptable" by being too old or out of date.
The Car industry was one of the first to take advantage of these kind of marketing strategies - instilling a feeling of dissatisfaction in car owners - not because their cars were *broken* - but just because their cars looked "old".

Sorry, I know this comment was a year ago, but I think that your logic is... Well... Cute.
Anyway, categorically saying a valid economic theory that has been demonstrated in fact over time (though not part of the Chicago school of fanciful economics and voodoo) is invalid because... Yah know... Atlus Shrugged... Or whatever, misses the thesis of the article.
The fact of the matter is large manufacturers, specifically those with patents, copywrights, supply and distribution chains, and large advertising budgets have been convincing consumers that they need a better razor (for instance) for decades. In your world view someone would just pull themselves up by their bootstraps (try this sometime, I think you will find it impossible) and create a better razor which all shaving people will flock to right? How's that working out right about now?
Compound the manufacturing issue with complexity orders of magnitude higher, and a supply chain and means of manufacturing which leads back to a handful of companies in the same country and region... And then couple this with the complete lack of regulation of trade and the reluctance to tax in order to protect domestic workers and manufacturing bases (ayn rand would be proud). And what are we left with?

You are kidding yourself if you don't believe there is planned obsolescence
The Auto motive industry has been doing it since the 1950's. Just because there is a competitive market don't you think everyone is doing the same?
Honda have their reputation for reliability because there are less initial faults and have had a 100,000 mile design life since the early 70's (although if you check re-calls they may go back many years and involve millions of vehicles)
On a slightly different track, John Deere tractors were almost bankrupt because they were too reliable, design life of 20+ yrs. They did market research and found a 12 yr design life was acceptable then repairs would start becoming more expensive each year after breakdowns or just 'old age' making a new tractor cost effective.
Electronic components are no different, MIL spec will give minimum hours life requirement, lower spec just means some components fail earlier but generally not poorer quality (if they have to do the same job) The cost is a reflection of this, the testing rather than production is more stringent. I'm led to believe Intel frequently downgrade expensive chips that don't meet design spec but may exceed a lower chip spec (I'm sure AMD, do the same but I have no information)

very useful - thanks! I'm replacing 5 caps on an LG monitor. When you say it's ok if the voltage is higher, how much higher can you go? I have 3 x 16v and 2 x 25v to replace. Could I use all 25v? Again, thanks!

Just realised my MIL spec doesn't read properly, the design life will generally be longer and under more difficult conditions the minimum hours requirement will usually be far higher than 'consumer specifications. Microsoft has obviously been using the strategy with Windows but obviously consumers didn't believe the 'whistles and bells' were enough to promote purchase of Win 8 so Microsoft has forced consumers to upgrade (or move to different OS - I'm moving)

ok that's nice if you can see the damage component (not rocket science) what if there is no visible signs of damage what then ???

1 reply

Then you can remove them and check their capacitance and ESR with a meter, but odds are (~ 95% of the time) if there is no visible damage then the capacitors aren't the failure point in a monitor. The next step then would be tracing the circuit, seeing whether it is producing the expected output voltages from the power supply. If it is, the fault should lie beyond it on the video board. If it is not, the PSU circuit will need traced from the AC input all the way to the output, first measuring components with power off then if no fault is found, power is applied and checked from point to point again.

To be concise, if someone needs this instructable to fix a capacitor problem, a more advanced repair is probably beyond their skill level and definitely being the scope of what someone could instruct in a reply box on a website unless a person already had specific details about their testing results.

When working with Capacitors, is there a safe easy way to make sure they are discharged?

4 replies

The high side (rectified mains current) capacitor will have a bleeder resistor draining it within seconds of unplugging the monitor. The low side switching filtration capacitors don't need a bleeder or drained at all because they are all within about 5V to 12V charge.

This is not the case with some other consumer electronics, but with LCD monitors there's little to be concerned about.

When working on an LCD monitor the best is probably time. Un-plug it and let it set for several hours and then open it up. It is a little more dangerous on a CRT because the picture tube itself can hold a charge for several days. I would stay away from CRTs just beacuse of the high Voltage and they are so bulky. With so many LCD failing because of bad caps you should score a few from any business if you ask around. Be sure to recyle if you can't fix it. The older cold filments in some CRTs has mercury in it. We already have enough mecury in the fish we eat from the coal we burn to power our computers.

The only 100% sure way is to short the two leads of the cap. A needle nose pair of pliers with insulated grips work well but time usually is enough. No cap is ideal and they all have resistance between the plates.

Isn't using a high ohm resistor better? I thought you could ruin the solder by short circuiting.

You could if you had a huge cap and it hasn't drained. You are not likely to find that in a LCD monitor. The large caps are usually the ones that fail just beacuse filter caps seem to be near the heat producing parts that cause the cap to bulge.

This instructable is excellent but I would recommend that those that are not trained in the gentle art of soldering to go to you local repair shop for TV and computers and obtain from them old PCB's and if you think that you do not need a soldering iron that is all that expensive but those cheapies do not last and can damage the semiconductors it can be life long tool if cared for! My Weller was bought in 1970 and all I had to replace the tips and I used it as part of my tools for over 40 years and it was not all that more expensive than the junk from the Orient they only lasted for six months if I was lucky! The one melted the handle on the first day and the other became red hot in a short while. Use now these old PC boards to practice desoldering and resoldering on this board as if you burnt parts unnecessary then it is too late for tears and use ROSIN cored solder preferably 22gge If some components are stuck with rubber based glue burn this glue with the tip of your soldering iron to burn it off AFTER the connections were desoldered

1 reply

It is definitely much easier to solder with a good soldering station, but the truth is that the single sided phenolic PCBs used for monitor power supplies can be easily enough soldered with even a low end $5 Radio Shack soldering iron and the default tip that comes with it. Those irons will last for years but the tips themselves will wear down after a few dozen hours of use, or even less if using highly active flux or solder containing it... but certainly far longer than needed to repair dozens of monitors.

Good work!  This issue is so prevalent that a number of suppliers (including at least one popular Louisiana-based repair shop) package and sell capacitor sets for this exact repair.  I've used a bunch of them to repair "failed" LCD displays! 

Your point about the economics is also spot-on:  The industry's development community has been phasing out 4:3 displays for a number of years.  Reasons given include HD and DVD compatibility, but the bottom line is the Bottom Line:  Pixel-for-pixel, widescreen displays cost less to manufacture than 4:3 displays of equal advertised size, yielding higher profit margins for producers. 

At some point (perhaps when 4:3 becomes truly obsolete), the playing field will again be saturated with a single style, and industry designers will be tasked with developing the next innovative profit accelerator at the expense of value. 

In the meantime, we can make them all wait another 3-5 years (or more) by repairing our good old 4:3 displays, with their 12% more screen real estate for the same "size" screen. 

As your great 'ible shows, we can also continue making our statement against planned obsolescence by repairing our widescreen displays!