My CRT is very dull

I recently acquired a mostly matching set of components for a Dell Dimension 4100 desktop. Nothing too unique, P3, 512mb ram, 40gb hard drive.

The Dell CRT it came with isn't performing too great, though. The first thing I noticed is that it's extremely dull. Like, at 100 brightness, it's barely visible in an indoors environment. Then I realized the Bliss background in XP has terrible contrast. The sky looks fine, and you can see some of the brighter parts of the grass on the hill, but the darker areas are totally black and indistinguishable.

And did I mention that everything is fuzzy? Really really fuzzy.

My main question is, do CRT monitors go bad with time, and does it resemble this? Or am I just being dumb and don't know how to set my monitor up correctly?


  • edited July 2019

    Well, I would double check all of the controls just to be sure. Check to see if there are any on the back. Also test the monitor with a different computer just to make sure the computer isn't doing something whacky. Does this monitor have "on screen" display settings? If so, does that look right or is it also too dim?

    There are several things that can go wrong with CRT monitors. At this stage in the game, electrolytic capacitors sometimes fail in power circuits, and possible if a unit was not well stored. At least those are usually an easy fix for someone who can solder.

    Although, the fuzziness suggests a problem with the high voltage unit. HVUs are a a bigger headache because tracking down identical matched parts is difficult.

    The tube itself usually does not go bad like that, although it can happen.

    There may be controls inside the unit that can be adjusted. But you only want to mess with those if you really know what you are doing (don't use metal screwdrivers to turn the controls, use something plastic and long). Of course, since those are set at the factory, that still indicates that something is going bad.

  • Ayy, hello fellow Dimension 4100 owner!

    The monitor for mine was thrown out a long time ago (thanks Dad), but I remember it was one of the best CRTs I have ever seen. It was a Trinitron tube. This monitor is one of the most desirable models out there for vintage computers.

    If you know what you're doing (and you MUST MUST MUST know what you're getting into), you could take the back cover off the monitor and adjust the focus and image controls on the flyback transformer. My Gateway EV500 was getting super blurry when it was on for too long, so I adjusted the focus and now it's great. The image control covers the intensity of the picture, so yours might be a bit low, but be careful -- if you turn up the image control too much, the CRT arcs into the air. Mine didn't suffer any damage from that, but it's a good reminder that CRTs are dangerous and that you should get that cover on as quickly as possible.

  • How old is the screen and what usage has it seen?

    Could be the caps, as already stated but it does sound like the tube is on its way out... gun or the "coating" could be beyond repair.

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