My beloved monitor for the last 7 or 8 years has been a CRT. But not just any CRT, its a Sony GDM-W900 in all its 24″ 16:10 1920×1200 glory. Inky dark blacks, amazingly vivid colours, endless odd resolutions, 5x BNC input as well as VGA. They cost thousands and were used for CAD, film grading, special effects houses, pro photographers, etc.
I was originally gifted mine in a broken state after repairing some guitar amps. As I was leaving he casually asked if I wanted it for parts. His house movers had dropped it down a flight of stairs (weighs 41kg/90lb!). He’d had 3 on his desk…
The main damage was to the row of buttons at the front, PCB snapped off and missing etc. Luckily it used the IO line saving trick of using an ADC witha different valued resistor on each switch. I was able to work out the value progression and fill in the missing values and switches.
Switched it on with great caution after making sure the rattling bits in the case were just broken bits of casing, there were no other broken PCBS and the tube neck was intact.
Cue the loudest degaussing twang I’ve ever heard and it popped into life. It was out of focus and there was a huge green splodge in the lower right corner which wouldn’t degauss away. After literally a couple of hours exploring its menus and controls I managed to adjust the landing and convergence so it looked fantastic.
5 years of monitor heaven and and an expensive GPU later it started slowly drifting out of focus and would then make a loud snapping noise and pop back into focus. I thought, and was told by others, it was the flyback transformer insulation dying and turns shorting out.
In the end I had to find the focus pot on the flyback and drill a hole in 3 layers of casing (that lined up when reassembled: about as much fun as it sounds). After that a long Philips head screwdriver was permanently inserted and used to tweak the focus. Worked amazingly well. For another several years.
The last few months I’ve been expecting it to finally pop every morning when I switch it on or whenever the res change relays click. Its been bright green for an increasing amount of time after being switched on, a sharp tap on the screen with a wooden spoon often resolved it.
It still soldiers on, Sony made an amazingly good quality bit of kit, assuming you could afford to pay for it.
But I did start looking for another monitor. Replacement 24″ widescreen CRTs are very rare now (2015) and go for silly money. Thats assuming its within range. Not sure I’d trust any courier with one.
Main candidates were either HP LP2475W or similar. 24″ 16:10, IPS, wide gamut, composite & S-Video inputs as well as VGA and DVI etc. Found several for about £100 but then saw one of those 30″ Korean IPS screens listed as broken which I won for £5.
See HERE for how that turned out.
Here is the service manual for the GDM W900 and for the GDM FW900, should be helpful to anyone trying to keep one alive.
There is also a zipped driver for the W900, install the .inf and all the screen modes should show up in Windows. Also has lots of ICM profiles etc. Its not just for the W900, I think it covers most of the higher end Sony CRTs (and probably the rebadged SGI, HP etc versions too)..