Controlling A CGA Monitor With An Arduino

CGA monitors may not be an amazing technological advance these days, but they can generally be found very cheaply. Additionally, they have a DB-9 connector and work off of TTL ranges (0-5VDC) making them ripe for experimentation. This hack takes advantage of all of these aspects to bring you an Arduino controlled CGA monitor.

One problem with experimenting with one of these monitors is that they are not that well documented. Fortunately, the detailed write up for this hack goes over some of the timing and frequency issues that one may encounter with this particular monitor. The article gives an Arduino pinout and the program used to drive the monitor with very detailed comments.

Although this hack is by no means a finished product, the now blurry test pattern seen above gives a pretty good proof of concept. It will be exciting to see if this hack inspires any other microcontroller-based projects. For some further information about CGA monitors, Wikipedia also has a fairly in-depth write-up about the technology.

Monocrome To Magnificent: Computer Display Chronology

Remember when CGA came out and made monocrome monitors look horrible? Well CGA is crap, VGA is where it’s at. Wait… weren’t there a couple of standards in between those two? Take a walk down memory lane and relive the evolution of computer display technology. You’ll start with displays that are more or less CRT oscilloscopes and end up in better than high-def territory. The article is an interesting read but for those with short attention spans jump to the fourth page and check out the chart of technologies, resolutions, and implementation dates. We’ve come a long way in a few short decades.