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Hacking Monitor to Fix Too Bright Screen Issues


Pretty interesting day for me today. Managed to hack my monitor and fix the too bright monitor screen issue it was facing.
I got this Dell P1110 21’ CRT screen from somebody, for free and noticed that it has issues of really bright screen, even at brightness turned down to 0, I could see the black screens as bright grey. Basically it was awfully bright. Most older CRT’s from Sony, Dell I googled have the problem of “excessive bright monitor screen” or “monitor too bright” issues. Although I had a spare 15” crt working properly nothing beats this big beast. Its huge and heavy too!! So I googled up for “Dell P1110 too bright” term and found this link : http://icrontic.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19549 after spending few hours trying to figure out what was happening in the thread, I managed to hack or re-program it to have lower brightness.Re-writing this tutorial to save user some time of going over the entier thread at the forums. Basically you need 2 things (I used the software method rather than the resistor mod method, as I did not have to open the monitor at all and saved me headache and labor):
1. Rs232 to TTL Converter Cable/ Jig , I will explain how I made my own jig for $0 !!
2. Windas Software which I got from http://www.geocities.com/gregua/windas/install.html

Let’s first make the RS 232 to TTL Converter Cable/Jig or ECS as referred to later on in the tutorial.. Without this you would not be able to use the software!! So either make the jig of get a jig from someplace like ebay.

One link to it is : Ebay only $16-$20.
I however, used the following items to construct my $0 Converter as I got the parts from the engineering lab of my college which I will return soon.
1. MAX233CPP or MAX233A Chip. DataSheet for Max233.
2. BreadBoard and those tiny cables to hook up on it.
3 A Ribbon cable (so I could strip it into individual cables, you can use cables available as long as they are not too thick, as they will need to be interfaced to Db9 Female connector). Total individual cables needed were 4 + 6 = 10.
4. DB9 Female Connector
5. 1 Female Pin Header Connector (those cable ends you see on your DVD/CD roms, audio connectors).
6. Soldering Iron to solder the wires to DB9.
7. Computer with Serial port, preferably COM1 not the LPT port (the printer port, the big one is usually the printer port)

Use the diagram shown below Fig (RS) to make the wire connections on the breadboard or making hardwired system. MAX233A or MAX233CPP are basically same stuff. And has advantage over MAX232 method to make the RS232 to TTL converter that it does not need any external Capacitors. Please note the MCU happens to the monitor control unit or the TTL itself. And keep TX and RX such that you can swap each others location as I had issue communicating till I placed RX on Pin 2 and TX on Pin 3 of MAX233CPP. These RX and TX are your monitor Transmit and Receive signals. On DB9, make the connections as shown basically Pin 2 > Pin 4 of MAX233 , Pin 3 > Pin 5 of MAX233 and Pin 5 > Pin 9 of MAX233 (GND). And short the Pins 4, 6, and 8 on DB9. And you are done with interfacing the RS232 to the chip (Max233).
Now on your monitor backpanel, some monitors might need the casing to be removed but I was lucky Dell P1110 has a small cover on the interface which you can pull out. Basically the format for monitor is :
Top to bottom as you face the back of the monitor applies to (Dell P1110)
GND
VCC (+5)
TXD
RXD .
You will need the 4 pin female header pin connector (5th item in my list) to easily interface the Monitor with Chip (MAX233). You might need to switch around between the TX and RX for monitor to Pin3 and Pin 2 respectively on MAX233, if the diagram below gives you errors on Windas like “Program termination” or “check bus lines”. I turned my monitor off before doing the interface to prevent any shock hazard to myself.

monitor-too-bright
Fig (RS): Rs232 to TTL converter cable/jig interfacing using MAX233.

Now your converter cable/jig is ready. Let’s now install the software and steps to change settings for monitor. These steps have been taken from http://www.geocities.com/gregua/windas/ . Gregua is the original owner/writer of the entire tutorial for fixing the brightness issue. Thanks mate.

Stage 2 : Hacking your monitor or changing its configuration using Windas

Download this zip file . Open and extract. You should see the contents as figure below.
windas setup

Execute the windas.exe file, and bypass the errors you see, like AG Astro not configured etc. etc. if any. When the program has fully executed, you will see the screen like this :
windas setup

Go the Setup option and click Model Set , if you see screen as below you do not need to play with activex folder. If nothing opens just go to activex folder in your windas folder and execute the activex.bat file. It copies the required file and registers the controls. Now try windas and model set, you should see the screen as below, if not, I would suggest you try to get in touch with the dude who wrote the procedure at http://www.geocities.com/gregua/windas/install.html . Please note that the procedure written here on this blog has been modified here to ease the installation of windas, with all the steps properly executed and the folder and zip created as seen on geocities.

Setup

Now run ‘Set up’->Config and you should see the following.
monitor-too-bright
Congratulations! You have successfully installed and patched Windas!
With your Rs232 to TTL cable (or ECS as referred to in how to change settings for your monitor using windas guide) windas will be fully functional! Make sure to back
up your current monitor config before doing anything else. Please note here that it might blank you monitor for a few minutes while saving when you hit the GO button. Its normal do not worry and do not try to cycle power to the monitor.
monitor-too-bright

Final Stage : Editing and Uploading .dat Files Saved from Monitor and changing G2 value which is responsible for excessive brightness.

These steps are copied and taken from original soure : http://www.geocities.com/gregua/windas/adjustment.html

1.You may want to configure your Ecs com port (the interface Rs232 to TTL converter cable/jig) and set SG to manual
monitor-too-bright

  1. Before doing anything save your current settings as shown.
    monitor-too-bright
    monitor-too-bright
    Note:Your monitor may seem to turn off (blank) during saving and loading of register data. This is normal.
  2. Windas has a utility to interpret saved .dat files under help->expert
    monitor-too-bright
    monitor-too-bright
    You want to click ‘Viewer’ > And locate the G2 Value and remember it as it might be hard to find it in the .dat file.
    monitor-too-bright
    These are the values of the settings of your monitor saved in the .dat file
    You can change ANY of them, as will be shown in the next step
  3. Open up your .dat file with note pad, turn wordwrap on and adjust the size of the notepad window
    Note for WindowsXP users: WindowsXP (and likely Vista) notepad
    no longer saves entirely in ASCII chars and will encode the content
    differently when you save. Use a hexeditor, or another editor such as
    Vim (www.vim.org). Or, you can use the edit command on the command prompt. Also you can just try wordpad as i did, and use wordrap from View>Options>Text > Warp to ruler or Wrap to window whichever works for you. Locate the G2 number say in above example its 84. Locate it and change it gradually to lower value say 80 or 78 and save the .dat file. Say here it is dang.dat. monitor-too-bright
    monitor-too-bright
    As you can see above, the viewers output is simply your dat file with labels.
  4. Can you find the G2 voltage adjustment? Perhaps you want to lower it.
    Bring it down about 4, then save your .dat file, make gradual adjustments.
    monitor-too-bright
  5. With your dat file edited and saved, load your changes back into the
    monitor as shown. Please note use the Expert>Viewer to check for the files changed G2 value, if it has not changed means you did something wrong, go back and edit the value and make sure using viewer first that value got saved. Now after you hit the GO button while loading your monitor might go blank(no power etc.) do not worry after programming is done it will come back on. If after like hours i does not, try recycling the power to monitor and if still blank seems like monitor is toasted. Something went wrong somewhere, but i doubt that will ever happen.
    monitor-too-bright
    Just click go, then hit ok when it is finished loading.Otherwise your OSD will remain locked.
    monitor-too-bright

Now you are all set , play around with the OSD settings and repeat above procedure to load new values of G2 till you are satisfied with the brightness level.Enjoy and big thanks goes to gregua for the entire guide and software files etc etc. and other user from icrontic.com who provided various tips and methods.

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13 Responses to “Hacking Monitor to Fix Too Bright Screen Issues”

  1. Joseph Parry says:

    Hey guys!

    I found this guy selling premade cables :D Enjoy!

    http://cgi.ebay.com/MAX232-ECS-RS232-to-TTL-Level-Converter-in-DB9-shell_W0QQitemZ290467396512QQihZ019QQcategoryZ41995QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    100% feedback and he talks about using the cable for Dell’s etc in a decent depth in the Ebay description.

    Best of Luck!

    Joseph Parry

  2. Sumeet says:

    Sandro, i would suggest looking on ebay if that does not have it try going to dealsextreme you can probably buy parts for the cable.

  3. Sandro says:

    Hello, I have a Sony GDM-F520 which has the “too bright” issue together with a convergence problem on the top left corner. Could you tell where I can find a premade cable ? All the links seems dead.

  4. Neil Jackson says:

    Thank you very much. This information saved me the cost of a new monitor. I cannot understand why Sony would not allow access to all of the settings via the on-screen menu; that would obviate the need for all of this hassle.

  5. this article is very usefull..

  6. James Newton says:

    Hi, I’d like to get some feedback on connector differences between different monitors. I make the cable sold at http://techref.massmind.org/techref/io/serial/rlc2.htm and the pinout I show there worked fine for my Sony monitor, and has worked for many others, but your diagram here shows “RX” and “TX” reversed.

    Part of the problem is that RX and TX only make sense if you include the direction. E.g. data being sent from the monitor is being RX’d by the PC but is being TX’d from the monitor, so either label could be used and still not tell us the direction of flow.

    My monitor talks if I send data to it from the PC on pin 4 (farthest from ground) and look for data back from the Monitor on pin 3. The diagram on your page shows data going from the monitor on pin 4 into the MAX232 (and so on to the PC) and out of the MAX232 and into the monitor on pin 3. At first glance, I would say that there must be a difference between your monitor and mine, but then I notice that in the paragraph above the diagram, you also said
    “You might need to switch around between the TX and RX…” which makes me wonder if that is what you had to do to get it working?

    It would be very good to get some more experience from people telling us which direction of data flow worked for them while NOT using terms like RX and TX which are so easy to confuse.

  7. Thanks for this info. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. I noticed some broken links. I eventually found what i think is all of the software i need at the link:

    http://www.bloggybloggy.com/randomdownloads/windas.zip

    The links to the premade cable at ebay didn’t work, i’m assuming these will work:

    http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=m38&_nkw=RS232+to+3.3~5v+TTL+Converter+Cable

    That ebay search as of 14jul09 pulls two matches, both look like the same cable, are from the same seller, but have different prices, unsure if there is actually a difference between them, i sent a letter to the seller.

  8. cable rs232 says:

    cable rs232…

    Didn’t realise there was this type of information out there…

  9. Sumeet says:

    Nice to know that Anthony, but that 21 inch screen uses a lots of power :) .

  10. Anthony Lum says:

    Just wanted to say thanks a million for your blog. It made my task of fixing my P1110 extremely straight forward.

  11. Jeff says:

    i would like to thank you for your time and say that there is an alternate methode for rs232 to ttl conversion with transistors that work very well and may cost less or even nothing if you have an old radio handy. i have an dell p1110 21″ that had the over bright prob and i found the schematic for the level converter at (http://www.uchobby.com/index.php/2007/06/11/ttl-to-rs232-adaptor-explained)
    and after building this from spare parts i could not get it to work with the windas program but after looking at your schematic for the max233a i saw you connected pins 4,6,8 togather and then it worked after i took out pin 2 from the collector of the pnp and placed the tied up pins on one lead to the transistor i hope this helps and again thnks.

  12. Sumeet says:

    What parts did you not understand daniel ? The main thing is setting up a cable to interface the computer to the monitor. Other than that it should work for all the models listed in the program itself.

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