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One Cobble at a Time

Taking Apart a Computer Monitor

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

Taking Apart a Computer Monitor

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responsible woman

A few years ago Gleek’s school class sent notes home advertising a “Take Apart” day. They wanted old appliances or technology which was broken so that the kids could take things apart and see how these familiar objects looked inside. We happened to have a broken laptop to send with Gleek, which thrilled her. She had the coolest take apart item in the class. Since that day, Gleek often requests broken things so that she can take them apart. I figure there is no difference between recycling the thing whole or in pieces, so when I have something I let her.

On Sunday Gleek and Patch took screwdrivers to my broken flat screen monitor. It was fascinating to see all the layers that go into making a monitor run. The kids loved unplugging the circuit boards and pulling loose the screws. We were fascinated to discover that the monitor screen had five layers. There were three thin sheets of various refractive qualities, one liquid crystal board which had electronic inputs, then a thick polycarbonate sheet which also refracted light in interesting ways. We examined the tiny florescent light bars before recycling them as possibly toxic when broken. Bits of metal and plastic went into the bin as well. I must admit I was as fascinated by the process as the kids were. I have a better idea of what makes monitors work. We kept the circuit boards and the interesting refractive sheets. I’ve got my eyes open to figure out what broken thing we can take apart next.

Mirrored from onecobble.com.

  • Just FYI, you do know that LCD monitors are usually repairable, right? Replacement parts for most models can be had at sites like http://www.lcdpart.com and others.
    • I did not know that. My experience with modern electronics is that the cost of repair exceeds the cost of new and better equipment. However the two mostly-functional computers we have sitting idle are headed for donation rather than my kids' screwdrivers.
  • It often does, yes. With LCD monitors, though, it's often worth checking. We have a ViewSonic pivoting 17" LCD monitor that we're still using, which we got in 2003 from a computer recycler; our total cost in parts to get it working was about $6 for a replacement for its failed CCFL backlight, and about $25 for a power supply. By far the most expensive part of an LCD monitor is the actual LCD panel. If the panel's good, it's often worth repairing it.

    On the other hand, if the panel's bad... my 28" Hanns-G LCD monitor has a stuck-full-on column driver, and the amount Hanns-G wants to repair it is most of the cost of a new LED-backlit Asus 27.5" LCD monitor. (They wouldn't honor the warranty because they'd already replaced the entire monitor once for a separate fault.)
    • Cool. Now that I've seen one taken apart, I actually have a feel for what you're talking about. I'll keep it in mind for next time.
      • And remember that laptops are just computers with built in LCD screens. ;-D We got another 2 years of use out of an old Thinkpad after replacing it's backlight.
  • (Anonymous)
    What's wrong with the mostly-functional computers?
    • One is fine, just old and inadequate for graphic design. The other is older and currently gives the blue screen of death. They're headed for a computer recycling company.
      • (Anonymous)
        Thinking about it, I suppose that you must already be aware, but you could take apart one of the computers and put it back together for educational purposes without actually diminishing it's value, as long as you are careful about ESD.

        I guess having to be extra careful might take some of the fun out of the activity though. :)
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