DRAGON'S LAIR / SPACE ACE MONITOR TO TV SWAP
Written by Hans Eilers - 18 February 2005
This article was written at a time when it was a simple matter to run to the nearest store and pick up a glass CRT television set. All of the following concepts are still valid and arguably superior to the use of a RGB monitor, but the tone of ease, convenience and abundance (regarding new TV availability) with which this guide was written is now outdated. That being said, it might still be easier to find a 19-inch TV these days than a new monitor.
Let me begin this tutorial by saying that replacing the monitor with a TV in my Dragon's Lair was the easiest, most economical solution, providing an excellent picture with no modifications and no additional hardware. As original Electrohome G07 or Wells Gardner WG4900 monitors with little or no burn-in are getting scarce, finding a suitable replacement presents a challenge. A new RGB monitor is at least $199 and needs an NTSC to RGB conversion solution, which often times requires hacks. The overall cost of a compatible TV is about $99 (new in 2005. $1 to $20 used at a thrift store in 2016). TVs accept NTSC signals natively, and thus a conversion card is not needed. I'll leave the debate about the originality and value of this solution to the D-L-P Message Board.
The TV model used most for this conversion is the Symphonic ST419D (made by Funai). It has also been marketed as a Sylvania or Funai TV. This set has 2 crucial features that make it the best choice. First, this model remembers that it was powered on when it gets unplugged during use, and it will automatically power on again when it is plugged back in. It also remembers the channel or input setting when plugged back in. These 2 features make it most like an arcade monitor because it just powers up and works. If you use a TV without these features, you'll need to manually turn it on and/or adjust the source input with the remote control each time.
OK, on with the show. First things first: the WARNINGS and DISCLAIMERS. Video game monitors and televisions contain potentially LETHAL voltages, so one must take care and use caution. This document is meant to be a guide only, and you agree to undertake this on your own. By following these procedures, you are solely responsible for any damages.
REMOVING THE OLD MONITOR
First, disconnect the video cable going to the NTSC board. Now disconnect the power to the monitor. This should be a small, 2-wire Molex connector. Before you remove the old monitor, it is probably a good idea to discharge the tube. Monitors can store a fairly significant charge even after being off for some time. Make sure the game is off and unplugged. Using a long flat blade screwdriver, connect one end of a wire (preferably insulated) with alligator clips to the screwdriver and the other end to the monitor chassis. Using one hand, push the metal end of the screwdriver under the big red suction cup (anode) on the top of the tube. You should hear a POP and will probably see a nice blue spark. Wait a minute, and repeat.
Now for the hardest part of this whole procedure: unbolting the monitor. This is difficult only because getting to the four bolts to remove them is difficult, especially for someone with large hands. Using a 1/2 inch socket, remove the four bolts holding the monitor in place. It's probably a good idea to have someone else help you hold the monitor as you remove the bolts. Now very carefully slide the monitor out of the back of the cabinet.
REMOVING THE CHASSIS
After pulling the monitor out of the cabinet, we are ready to remove the chassis and tube. If you haven't discharged the monitor, now is the time to do so! It should now be safe to remove the anode using the screwdriver to push in the hooks under the rubber suction cup. Now gently remove the neck board from the tube. Also remove the ground wire from the neck board. Next you will want to remove the yoke connector (large 5-wire connector at the front of the chassis near the flyback). Last, remove the 2 white wires connected to the degaussing coil (these are found on the left side of the chassis, toward the front). Now everything should be disconnected on the chassis. Remove the two screws on either side holding it in place, and gently remove the chassis.
UNBOLTING THE TUBE
This is a really simple step. First, remove the screw holding the degaussing coil wiring (it's the only thing left on the frame except the tube). Now from the front, remove the four 3/8" bolts holding the tube to the frame. Take care as the tube is heavy and will lean forward. Use a towel, bubble wrap or something else to protect the front of the tube as you lean it over. That's it! You should have a bare metal chassis ready to install the TV onto.
TESTING THE TV
Prior to disassembling the TV, it's probably a good idea to connect it to the game and make sure that it works. Plug in the TV, turn it on, and change it to the front AV input (Game). To connect your Laserdisc player to the TV you will need a BNC to RCA connector. Fire up your game, and see how great it's going to look.
GUTTING THE TV
Turn off the game, and unplug the TV. Place the TV face down on a table or bench. Use a towel, bubble wrap or something else to protect the front of the tube. Remove the screws on the back of the TV, and gently remove the back cover. Since you just had the TV powered on, it's a good idea to discharge the tube following the same steps above in the REMOVING THE OLD MONITOR section.
Remove the two screws on the bottom of the TV that hold the chassis in place. There are two cable ties on each side of the bottom part of the tube. Carefully snip these to give more room to move the chassis around and remove the chassis from the base. Now remove the four screws in the corners holding the tube to the front TV plastic. For the last step, it's probably a good idea to get someone to hold the loose chassis as you gently lift the tube out of the front plastic. Slide the front plastic out of the way, and set the tube face down on the towel or bubble wrap.
INSTALLING THE TUBE
Carefully place the old metal frame around the tube and line up the four screw holes. Insert and hand tighten the four 3/8" bolts so that the TV tube is fastened to the frame. Gently set the frame upright, and tighten the four bolts completely with a socket wrench. Set the chassis down on the base of the frame for now while we build a mounting board for it. Be aware that the tube will be top heavy and has a tendency to tip over.
MOUNTING THE TV CHASSIS
Mounting the chassis to the frame is where some of the "engineering" comes in. While the TV chassis is close to the same shape of the monitor chassis, it doesn't line up to the mounting brackets. The best way to deal with this is to cut a piece of board or wood to mount the chassis to. Cut a 8" x 9 3/4" piece of 1/2" wood. I used Hardy Plank because that's what I found laying around. This board will now wedge neatly in between the old mounting brackets. Now take the chassis and rotate it 90 degrees clockwise so that the front AV inputs are facing the right side of the monitor frame and the RG6 cable input is facing left. This allows for the easiest attachment of the cables and allows access to the front panel control buttons and the IR "eye". If you cut the two tie wraps earlier, you should have enough slack in the cables.
Center the chassis on the mounting board, and mark the two screw holes in the back for the stand offs. Also mark where the front stand offs will go. For standoffs, I used some of the plastic cable clamps, but doubled up. For the back ones, I drilled pilot holes and then screwed the chassis down to the mounting board. Be sure to run the AC line cord through the cable clamp. For the front, I also drilled pilot holes but put the screws in between the plastic to avoid shorts. This leaves the front of the board loose but anchored firmly in the back. As for anchoring the mounting board, a single screw (at least 1 inch long to go through the board and the metal frame) can be placed near the center of the board in the open hole in the monitor chassis. This should hold the board; however, I also used tie wraps around the front from side to side. See pictures. That's it; the chassis should be firmly mounted.
INSTALLING THE TV IN THE GAME
OK, this part can be tricky without some help. Make sure the power cord is wrapped up and out of the way. Carefully lift the monitor up, and place the bottom end in first on the mounting brackets. Be very careful of the neck of the picture tube as you do this. Slide it down the brackets until the mounting holes roughly line up. Make sure the monitor is lined up, and hold it steady while your help inserts the bolts from the top down. This can be tricky as there is not much hand room here. Have your assistant put on all four nuts and hand tighten them as best as you can. Get the 1/2" socket and tighten all four nuts down. With the monitor secure, check the alignment in the front. It may be necessary to adjust the front plastic monitor bezel a bit to fit exactly around the tube.
For the AC line cord of the monitor, you can either snip the plug off and install a 2-position .93 Molex connector, like the one found on the original monitor, or install an extension cord in the game and plug it in. I had already wired in an extension cord in order to leave the plugs intact for the laserdisc player, so I just plugged in the TV too. Lastly, connect the video cable from the laserdisc player to the TV chassis (on the Yellow connector) using the BNC to RCA converter plug.
OK, now for the moment of truth! Double check all of your work and connections. Plug in your Dragon's Lair, and turn it on. POOF!! Just kidding :) If the TV was left on the GAME input and turned on when you tested it, then you should see the word GAME on the screen in the upper right corner (if you are using the Symphonic TV) while the game boots the laserdisc. If not, just walk around to the back and use the remote to turn on the TV and set the input channel. It should now remain that way every time you turn the game on. Additional 'secret' fine adjustments to the picture quality can also be made, as described in the April 2016 update posted below.
That's it!! Enjoy your Dragon's Lair with a brand new, bright, clean, clear monitor!
This tutorial was written to help those who would like an easy solution to replacing the monitor in their game but weren't quite sure how to do it. While this document was written specifically using the Electrohome G07 monitor and the Symphonic ST419D TV, many of the concepts discussed here can be applied to the Wells Gardner monitor and to the use of other TV models.
Special thanks to Jeff Kinder, Michael Fox, Dave Hallock, and the D-L-P community as a whole.
FINE ADJUSTMENTS UPDATE - 2 April 2016
The Service Manual for the Symphonic ST419E Television describes (on page 5-1) a procedure for adding one jumper wire to the remote control that will convert it to a "service remote". This service remote can then be used (as described throughout the rest of section 5) to make "electrical adjustments" to the image, including vertical & horizontal size & position, black level, white balance and more. It is currently unknown how many other different models of Symphonic/Sylvania/Funai televisions these procedures might also apply to. Thanks to Michael Giannasio for pointing this out.
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