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Salvage It

There is a massive change happening in Australian offices and homes at the moment: CRT monitors are being discarded in their thousands in a wholesale changeover to LCD monitors. This represents a great chance to get a big stock of useful components but you need to do it now because CRT monitors will become a rarity within the next few years.

By Leo Simpson

Gather up those discarded monitors now - before it's too late

Possibly you have seen lots of monitors being thrown out in the streets during your local council clean-ups. Lots of computers are being thrown out as well. But while the computers themselves might present limited possibilities for salvaging parts, CRT monitors, particularly the older ones, are a treasure trove of good components.

Consider also that many CRT monitors being thrown out are still working perfectly. Their owners have simply upgraded and because they don’t want to keep them in the garage or wherever, they are being tossed out. So if you pick up a monitor from a council street clean-up, the chances are that all of its components are still quite OK.

Even our own office at SILICON CHIP has made an almost complete switch to LCD monitors during the last year, so we had a good range of old CRT monitors, some dead, some nearly dead (with worn-out picture tubes) and some relegated to standby, just in case a monitor failed and we needed a quick substitute. So we only had to take a few steps out to the warehouse to pick a random candidate for this story.

The one we picked was probably well over 10 years old and a very good 17-inch (diagonal) monitor in its day. And it was destined for the tip, along with a couple of very large 21-inch monitors and a bunch of others which were dead. I must admit that I hate throwing this stuff out, because I know that it once represented some of the finest technology that money could buy. Now, it is just old stuff that takes up space.

Down to work

Anyhow, it was out with the tools and down to work. Removing the cabinet back was simple, with just a couple of screws and a few clips to unlatch. Before that though, we pulled off the swivel base which incorporated a USB input and output. We pulled this apart and found a well-shielded PC board which had provision for more inputs – just why it was there was a mystery. However, these were perfectly good USB sockets which could be pressed into service for some future project.

Having removed the back off the cabinet, you have to wonder if this might have a use. We racked our brains and could only come up with two possibilities: a waste paper basket or as plant holder in a garden pond. They have a lot of ventilation slots so they cannot be used as conventional plant pots unless lined with plastic; perhaps readers can come up with some other uses. If so, we would like to hear about them.

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