Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pick it up

A few months ago, I discussed a technique to fix LCD monitors, but since then I received a lot of questions with regards to how to actually OPEN the LCD’s plastic casing. Unfortunately, the front and back plastic shells are usually attached using snap-locking plastic notches, and these can be very hard to open. Here are two techniques that you can use to open such cases.

The basic technique is to simple use force – the plastic notches will come undone if you apply enough force to them, although some of them might break. Before going there, remove any screws that are in place, and inspect the back well to make sure there are no screws hiding under a warrenty sticker, or under the monitor’s leg. Then, place the screen on a table with the screen itself pointing upward, and the “top” of the screen facing you.

With your fingertips (of both hands), grab the plastic panel of the top part and try to slide your fingers underneath it, while pulling towards you. There will be resistance, often significant one, but with enough force, the frame will open. The hard part is to find the right balance so as to not break the LCD panel, so you might want to practice on a screen that you care less about. If you are not an experienced guitarist, expect some finger pain after this process.

Once the top comes open, slide your fingers a bit more inwards, and then slide them sideways towards the corners, still applying force, to open the notches that are in the corner, and then keep sliding along the sides towards the bottom of the screen. A typical screen has about 10-15 clasps along the frame, and they will snap open one by one. The snaps that are along the bottom part of the frame should be the easiest to open, as you should have most of the frame loose by now, and can apply a lot of leverage easily. Note that the monitor’s button panel is usually part of the front-frame, and wired to the main body, so be careful not to rip these wires or panel off when you open the panel. Most monitors’ internal body is separate from the plastic frame, and once you pop it open, the main body will come out easily, but be careful still – in some cases, the main body is connected with screws to the front or back frame, and you need to be careful not to break those.

If applying force, as described in paragraph 3 does not work, or you are very concerned about keeping the monitor in pristine condition, another technique is to pry the snaps open with a wedge. The problem is that the frame is usually soft plastic, so if you apply a screwdriver to it, it will cause very ugly damage. The right way to do it is use a plastic wedge. I recommend using a thick guitar pick – get a bunch of them – at least 3, and don’t get the expensive kind. This procedure might destroy them.

Take one pick, and push it between the front and back frame as much as you can, about 1 inch to the left or right of the middle of the frame (the middle point itself would probably have a snap, so you can push anything in there). The pick will separate the frames a bit, so now you can push another one next to it. Now, slide the 2nd pick sideways towards the corner, and the pressure will pop-open the snaps without causing any damage. You might have to experiment with several picks until you find ideal ones – some might be too soft to force the screen open, and others might be too thick to easily insert between the panels.