PIC Programmer Built From Broken Monitor

pic programmer

Khoa wanted to give a friend a microcontroller programmer(cache), but didn’t want to spend the money. He found almost every part he needed inside of a broken monitor he had in the closet. The only parts he had to provide were the perf board and the serial port. Even the socket was in the monitor. It was too wide, but he just cut out the center spar and made the socket narrower.

35 thoughts on “PIC Programmer Built From Broken Monitor

  1. This hack is below the usual level for hackaday. It’s akin to “make your own tire-swing by tearing apart your old car.. Just need to add rope and a tree”!

    Now you not only have $10 worth of PIC programmer, you have a dead monitor that can’t be easily repaired by a repair-person, so will probably end up in a chinese landfill.

  2. You think it’s intended for a working monitor? It’s obviously for a broken monitor. It’s also very much a hack. How is that below a site called “Hackaday”?

  3. grangerx, i’m afraid i don’t understand your logic.

    khoa clearly stated that the monitor used was already broken. Even if it wasn’t, (assuming he removed the parts in a relatively civil manner) all one would have to do is replace the <15 components. Even a beginner repair-person could do that with ease in a matter of minutes...

    To follow your analogy, it's like taking the tire off a junker to make a swing. the car is already "dead", and the changes being made to it could be easily reversed.

    In regards to the landfill bit, do you have any suggestions on how a monitor wouldn't end up there? Even if it were repaired and put to good use, it will eventually become irreparably damaged and get tossed. I think this simple reuse of materials is really our best option. Sure this project only used a small fraction of the monitor, but I hardly think khoa is done with it yet!

    This is a nice hack, khoa, and is exactly what hack-a-day is all about: turning "worthless" things into objects of (geeky) art and utility.

  4. Well, what I was specifically taking issue with was the percentage of pieces that got used. If he had, say, made a radio out of it or something that used more than the most miniscule of parts. If he continues gutting it for parts, okay. But, i was referring to that, in my own experiences trying to replair monitors (not that I’ve had much success, but still), it’s usually a single large part that dies, such as the flyback transformer, not the resistors, transistors, etc., but once your remove 15 random transistors, it makes it much harder to repair, esp. without a full schematic.

    Anyway, i’m 100% for the “make a pic programmer” part, just somewhat opposed to “tear apart a much larger thing to get $15 worth of random parts” aspect.

    The mention of this ‘hack’ being below expected quality was that it could be boiled down to “tear apart major electronic item to make $15 minor electronic item (using $10 of extra parts!)”, which, while generally applicable to computers, monitors, vcrs, etc, etc, is only a ‘hack’ because someone took an axe to a monitor. He just referenced a already available schematic, after all.

    Avoiding landfills is a difficult subject. I myself have a shelf of 6 or so old (not dead though, so I can’t make pic programmers yet!) monitors that I’m not sure what to do with. I guess I could make a cool LED-flasher. I think they maybe have one LED -each-! That’s SIX LEDs. That’s almost Knight-Rider level hackery, there, sir!


  5. I have my PIC programmer together with a PIC on a breadboard. It uses 74LS05, a transistor and some resistors. The PIC controls my RGB lights with some MOSFETs. Parallel port is much better than serial port IMHO. Also can use it to communicate with the program running on the PIC. I might add a third or fourth I/O to turn it into SPI-like protocol.

  6. Sorry you feel that way, liam.

    While i also wish the comments would stay more or less technical, i think intelligent debates on the merit of the hack are worthwhile. If, on the other hand, the comments were nothing more than people calling it “teh suxx0rs” and such, than yeah, we should grow up.

    personally, when my hacks have made it on the ‘site i really enjoyed reading people’s opinions on it’s value.

    if nothing else, rejoice in the fact that this post is one of the few to be without any “f1rst p0st!!!!11” nonsense!

  7. GrangerX, don’t be an asshole. Building something usefull for (almost) free is a fantastic hack. On the site, he said that he’s been scouring the monitor for parts, so give up on saying, “IT COULD HAVE BEEN REPAIRED!” Also, the monitor was probably a 15″ CRT, so who in his right mind would choose to repair it over using it as a goldmine of components?

    No one likes a negative nancy.

  8. Well, about disposing of a broken monitor…
    1- You could salvage countless other parts from it (See MAKE Vol 4 (Ithink… or 2))
    2- Take it apart, weld it back together, and sell it on ebaay as art
    3- Give it to free geek, who will sell the parts to folks who know how to get rid of such things
    4- Use the case as an awesome case mod

    Just because its junk doesn’t mean that you can’t do somthing with it. I had a 1971 Technics Reciever that worked, but sucked (power and quality) Its now gutted for the awesomist retro case mod. The insides are going into a shawdow box and being sold on ebay.

    Which reminds me… is it safe to have capasitors and such inside of a shadowbox for long periods of time?

  9. Wow,I was wondering why my web traffic jumped from 10 hits a day to over 7000 in just a few hours.

    thanks, for both positive and negative comments. i guess it means i have to clarify some things up (as i originally left a vague overviews of my works, not expecting any real audience, more of an online journal of my stuff).

    The programmer can use ICPROG (a free programmer) or my personal fav WinPic (also free). They show up as a JDM programmer.


    As for the broken monitor comments, jason, you’re right, it was a useless OLDDDDD monitor, images were faded and burned onto the screen. it was broken to the point that repairing it is not feasible because it was junk that my friend took from a computer salvage business (we attempted to repair it a while back for just a text display, couldn’t, so it ended up in my closet incase i needed it in the future). i’ve fixed plenty of motherboards and monitors from bad components before and i didn’t think the effort of fixing this one was worth the time and money. i’m planning on using a lot more of the components in the monitor’s circuit board later on as well, plenty of nice parts, like flyback transformers, tons of diodes and transistors and useful pots. by the time i’m done scouring it for parts, there will be only the crt and pc board left.

    I know, some of you may not really consider this a “hack,” thats cool too, just thought you guys would like to know that your scrap parts are still useful for practical purposes. I see random case mods and whatnot, so why not this?

  10. Sorry for another comment, but I just have to say somthing here. There are lots of comments here (on all the hacks) about what a hack is and what isn’t lets get it strait here-

    Its hackaday!!! Don’t you think they know what a hack is? If they don’t know what a hack is, then why are you looking here? So what if they just put a video for one day (In ref. to the snake bot)? How else are they going to show you that cool snake? I know I got ideas from it… the mechanics, design, research, features. Come on people! Think when you see somthing! You are hackers! Anything from a credit card to a decontamiation chamber should be hackable to you!

    And also, lets just get it strait- Hacking is the art of changing somthing from its origional purpose to somthing different using electricity/ mechanics. Thats my definition.

    Now from now on can we have contructive critisism in the comments?

  11. wesley:
    I see your point. I think the problem here was that khoa never intended his work to appear here, so didn’t have a chance to make it nice. And, hey, if the monitor is bad, it’s bad. No worries.

    Doing stuff is cool. I respect khoa for actually getting it together. The programmer itself is pretty neat.

    Now, that said, I think hackaday is my favorite hack site, and is one that presents hacking in a positive light, not as some synonym for cracking or such. But, I think they were just hurting for today’s hack. One thing about hackers, they don’t aim to deliver on a daily schedule, after all. :) I personally most enjoy the ‘hackaday extras’, where they can go for quantity, making quality a secondary concern. :)

    If, apparently, everything is a hack, then here are some hacks I respect:
    I respect the guy that made a mini (albiet goofy) scanner out of an optical mouse. *That* is an “awesome hack”. The guys that figured out how to run iOpeners with Win98, or the cuecat as a regular barcode scanner, also “awesome”. Any guy that puts linux on something originally not designed for it is “awesome”. The guys that wrote the drivers that re-enable the pipelines on nvidia and ati cards, etc.

    Anyway, all, have a good weekend, and hack something if you can. :)


  12. P.S.

    Have you seen my other stuff? my projects bleed from one to the other. The monitor was from the electrokinetic lifter project. I hardly let things go to waste, I’m currently converting broken old printer parts into plotters and vinyl cutters. I might display it on my webpage later on when it is complete.

  13. Great hack, perfect for the site despite what others may think.

    I live near an electronics pre-processing plant/thing where you can basicly play pull-a-part like some junk-yards. A dead monitor would probably go for free, certainly less than $5, and take your pick from anything that has a serial port (external modem, PCI cards, Mobos, etc) you could get these parts really easy

    Thats definitly cheaper then going and getting a programmer or even the parts at radiohut. and if you have the broken parts (i know i’m a part maven) it’s totally free (less some time and solder)

  14. This is quite cool, but it looks like hes used a sledgehammer to cut the perf board to size. Personally I think I would have used a saw or knife and a bit of sandpaper.
    Its a true hack at its best.

  15. ok, it isn’t the most amazing hack ever done, but I still like it. I always desolder every part of a PCB before it’s thrown away. Those parts are very usefull, because alot of them are obsolete, so hard to find.

  16. Wait..theres not processor, right? I guess you’d just use your computer, but I’d rather use a chip on the board so I could use it detached from the computer, like a Basic Stamp board. Looks like I just don’t get it..

  17. Ah, yes, I like what GrangerX has said. Really awesome hacks. We should have a hack-a-day awards webcast… Well, at least give out awards to the top hacks of the year. Like hooking a floppy drive up to a gameboy. What else are we going to do with our floppy drives? (Besides playing with the steppers) Lets consider a hack a really cool means of altering/creating an electronic device.

  18. @ Wesley, that didnt really answer his question did it tho? id also like to know if there is a way to program pics from a mac..i have a pc but would like to program them on my powerbook away from home.

  19. I guess building an oscilloscope would be a better hack out of a dead monitor, than building a pic prog ;) The hack does no indicate what programming application is reqd and what PICs it can burn!!!

  20. how do you actually connect the pic to the programmer? in the schematics, the actual pic module is left out (probably its an in-circuit programmer).

    also, to the comment about the processor, i’m new to pics, but i’m pretty sure you could use them without the computer after programming (that is the point, after all). i was actually wondering: what could you do with a processor (for a hobby project)? i found some old pentium mmx’s and some amd’s (i think), but not really sure what i could do with them (if they even work), other than using them as innefficient cup warmers.

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