Disclaimer: I do not take any responsibility whatsoever if the information in this article causes you to damage your computer, or injure yourself.

Many universities and educational institutions ofthen throw perfectly good 19" monitors away, simply because the equipment they were attached to is obsolete. I picked up a perfectly good Sony GDM-1960 at an auction for $5. Here's the catch: most of them are fixed sync. Fixed sync means that they will only display one resolution. Most modern monitors are multisync which means they can display a plethora of different resolutions, including text mode, which is required at boot up, however...fixed sync monitors are incapable of text mode. Therefore, you should keep your multisync monitor along with the fixed sync monitor, possibly connecting them with a switchbox so you can alternate between the two when you need to.

Once you have acquired a fixed sync monitor, look at the back of it. It should have either three, four, or five BNC connectors labelled RGB, RGBS, or RGBHV respectively.

If you have 5 connectors, its pretty easy. Simply find a cable which goes from 5 BNCs to a standard VGA monitor connector (or make one), and set your computer to the monitor's proper resolution.

If you have 4 connectors, its a little bit harder. You have to see if your video card is capable of producing composite sync. Most ATI video cards support this. If you're not sure, try checking your manufacturer's website. If your video card supports composite sync, then find a cable that goes from 4 BNCs to VGA and set your resolution to the monitor's resolution.

If you have 3 connectors, it may require a bit of electronics experience. Your monitor is sync on green, which means it combines the sync signal with the green signal. The easiest option is if you have a video card which supports sync on green, such as the Matrox Millenium. If this is the case, simply set your video card to the correct resolution and select sync on green. If your video card doesn't support this standard, then you have two other options. The easiest is to get a sync on green adapter, which converts a standard RGBHV signal (which all PC video cards support) into an RGB sync on green signal. The last option is to modify your monitor. This is simple if you have a monitor such as a Sony GDM-1960, as I do, which can be modified to accept an RGBHV signal simply by soldering on 2 resistors and 2 jumpers. GDM-1960 modification instructions can be found at:
WARNING: Do NOT remove the cover from a computer monitor or any kind of CRT display unless you know what you're doing. CRTs contain many large high voltage capacitors and chokes which can retain a voltage that can seriously injure you hours after the CRT is turned off. Please be careful.

When looking to get a 19" monitor for free one should no longer be looking at fixed sync monitors tossed out by Universities (as talked about in the above writeup by Deimios which should certainly be kept for the future since it does still contain valuable information about hooking up fixed sync monitors). There is nothing inherently wrong with those monitors, it is simply that they went out of style such a long time ago that they aren't really being tossed out in large numbers anymore, and thus you will largely be wasting your time if you are hunting down auctions and trash bins looking for them. Even if you do find one you might very well spend more on the cable than the monitor is worth.

However (as of 2008) there is one very easy way to procure yourself a free computer monitor without having to deal with any rare fixed sync monitors or wonky cables. Just start asking everyone you know if they have an extra computer monitor you could have. Monitors are worthless now that computers have been around long enough and enough people have been dumb enough to replace perfect monitors (and printers too) when replacing their computers. There are literally millions of monitors sitting unused in closets and basements, particularly now that LCD monitors have come into fashion, many people have even relegated those formerly high end 19" and 21" monitors to the basement.

If you absolutely cannot find someone to give you a free 19" monitor then go on your ebay and search for local ones. Absolutely perfect ones that can be picked up will end without bids for starting prices rivaling that of a candy bar.

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