During a recent auction, I purchased a Merit Radion Force game system with a dying monitor. As the monitor was unusably dim at maximum brightness settings even under dim light, the cathode gun was likely on it’s way out; and a repair would cost many times more than what I paid for the machine itself. So rather than sink any money into it, I converted the whole machine to LCD using an old Samsung 15″ monitor with an external power brick supply that I hadn’t used in years.
You’ve probably seen a counter top like this, although likely a newer model, in a bar or restaurant. Essentially, they’re designed to sit on a bar-top and play a collection of touch screen games. Each game costs anywhere from $0.25-$2.00 to play, which gives you around 2 minutes of play time. This breed of arcade machine is dying, with the largest manufacturer Merit having announced their shut down 2 months ago; likely thanks to smartphones which run similar games for free.
Anyhow, onto the repair. After giving the whole system a wipe-down and compressor dusting to clean it up, I disassembled the entire plastic shell assembly, leaving just the steel frame and electronics on the base. With the plastic out of the way, I disconnected the power cable to the monitor board, the touch screen’s serial cable, as well as the VGA cable (the whole machine is basically a computer running a custom version of Linux, and is built with all standard parts), peeled away the black duct tape holding the touch screen in place, and removed it from the monitor. The touch screen is made of glass, and is very fragile, so should you attempt this repair, be careful where you place it. After that, I unscrewed the monitor, and pulled it out of the cabinet by unlatching the board from the base. All of the parts were nicely designed to be “snap-in”, so removing it didn’t take long at all. Should you attempt this fix yourself, when removing or working near a CRT monitor, always be sure not to touch any electronics on the board, or attached to the tube (for example, the anode on top). As I’ve said before, the high voltage capacitors on the board are charged and are extremely dangerous if touched. Look up how to discharge monitor capacitors, and follow those instructions before continuing; and DO NOT attempt this fix if you aren’t comfortable working with them.
With the old monitor out of the way (I boxed it up and dropped it off at the local electronics recycling depot), I began preparing the LCD monitor for the switch. I disassembled the case, leaving only the monitor and control panel board, and mounted it where the old monitor was; using picture hanging wire fed through the old screw holes to keep it in place. With the monitor securely in place, I added about an inch of double-sided mounting tape (Dollarama sells it) to all four edges of the monitor, and covered the mounting tape in black duct tape to camouflage the tape with the plastic case. This mounting tape “shield” served to prevent the glass touch screen from scratching against the monitor’s metal edges, and raised it so that it was securely in place along the plastic front casing (which was slightly raised, since the old CRT extended further out of the cabinet.
With that done, I mounted the touch screen, securing it to the monitor with more black duct tape, and reconnected the monitor. Lucky for me, the LCD monitor’s external power brick fit nicely within the cabinet, and used the same plug socket, so that didn’t need to be changed at all. I taped it down to the base, so it wouldn’t slide around while moving. With everything reconnected, I reassembled the plastic shell, and powered it on.
Everything worked fine, and after a quick recalibration, the machine looked and played almost as good as new. The total cost for the repair? About $5 in tape and picture wire, as well as a monitor worth around $15 on Kijiji. Not a bad fix, if you don’t mind the look.