CrazyMonitorFilter: Fix my vibrating monitor image, please?
February 23, 2006 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Why is the image on my monitor vibrating?

I found a number of threads dealing with monitors that make strange noises. I wish mine was only so simple to explain.

Instead, the image on my monitor is... for lack for a better word, vibrating. It's most noticeable at the edges, not so much in the center, but basically, the image on my monitor is vibrating pretty much constantly - it keeps wavering.

Yesterday when I left work it was doing it occasionally, not so often that I'd notice. Today, it's doing it almost non-stop and it's driving me nuts! Anyone know why it's doing this, and what could be done to alleviate it?

It's a 21" (I think, possibly slightly bigger) Dell M993s CRT monitor. Refresh rate is 60 Hz and the resolution is currently 1280x1024. The graphics card is listed in the Device Manager as an Nvidia Quadro PCI-E Series. I can provide more details if necessary.
posted by philulrich to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What happens when you up the refresh rate?
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:38 AM on February 23, 2006

It is probably the refresh rate of 60Hz causing this. If you are running WinXP, you can bump this up in Control Panel/Display then...

Settings tab...

advanced button...

Monitor tab...

Choose higher refresh rate

You may need to uncheck the "Hide modes" if your monitor is listed as plug and play.
posted by JigSawMan at 5:42 AM on February 23, 2006

Response by poster: I'm wondering why changing the refresh rate would fix the problem: it's been using this refresh rate for, hm, about 7 months at this point and there was no problem until yesterday.
posted by philulrich at 5:44 AM on February 23, 2006

Response by poster: Addendum: I upped the refresh rate and the problem persisted.
posted by philulrich at 5:45 AM on February 23, 2006

Do you have any other electronics nearby that could be involved? At my last job, my monitor's images would start vibrating whenever the person at the cubicle next to mine would turn on her screen. I've also seen lots of monitors get wonky when fans or heavy-duty electronic devices were used nearby.

Have you tried degaussing?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 5:51 AM on February 23, 2006

Response by poster: I did try degaussing - it was actually my first reaction - to no avail.

As for other electronics, the only thing close to it is a phone and the monitor in the next cubicle, but both of them are the same type of monitor, both of them have been in the same position for about 7 months or so.

No one, as far as I know, brought any kind of new electronic device into the office yesterday. Or recently, for that matter. Interference would seem to be the obvious answer, yet I can't find anything new that would cause the problem.
posted by philulrich at 5:54 AM on February 23, 2006

Do any other nearby desks have similar monitors to yours? You could try moving the monitor to your desk and see if it vibrates there (or, do the opposite, move your monitor to someone else's desk and see if it still vibrates). If it's the location, then try moving stuff around/hunting for the interference... if it's the monitor, look at repair options. :)
posted by antifuse at 6:11 AM on February 23, 2006

The monitor I am using now is about to die, it periodicaly wacks out. I then change the refresh rate and screen size to a new setting, either up or down, and it locks in and comes back to life for a few days.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:14 AM on February 23, 2006

What's the frequency of the vibration? Fast or slow? Have you tried moving the monitor a foot or two to one side to see if that changes it? That can help determine what direction the interference is coming from, if nothing else.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:15 AM on February 23, 2006

Keep the refresh rate higher (you might even end up with fewer headaches). Try the monitor while plugged into a line conditioner or UPS in the same location. If that doesn't work, try another outlet on another circuit and/or a different orientation (that is, perpendicular to how the monitor has been sitting on the desk; CRTs can be sensitive to the earth's magnetic field). I suspect the UPS or line conditioner will address the problem.

Also, do you know if someone's recently added hardware to the same circuit you're using? That could explain why it's just started happening.
posted by kimota at 6:16 AM on February 23, 2006

Don't just move the monitor around -- plug it into another circuit and see if the problem continues. The interference can be coming up the AC line just as easily as from proximity.
posted by mendel at 6:19 AM on February 23, 2006

Might be the perfect time to hit the boss up for a new LCD monitor...
posted by JigSawMan at 7:19 AM on February 23, 2006

Are there any electronics around that might cause an interference? Some cell phones cause vibration in computer and TV screens.
posted by itchie at 7:25 AM on February 23, 2006

It could be that connector on either end of the monitor cable is loose.
Mine does that sometimes, and it makes the image (sort of) vibrate.
Try tightening the fingerscrews on the connectors.
posted by Thug at 7:39 AM on February 23, 2006

In my experience, a shaking image on a CRT is usually caused by a problem with the power. Increasing the refresh rate can help. Be careful to pick a refresh rate that your monitor can handle. Other electrical devices on the same circuit could be at fault too.
posted by KrustyKlingon at 7:55 AM on February 23, 2006

I've noticed a few times in different locations that desk fans running near by tend to whack out monitors. The desk fan goes off, the shaking stops.
posted by mnology at 8:42 AM on February 23, 2006

My monitor started doing that when I plugged in an humidifier (el cheapo from Walmart) on a plug on the same circuit as the monitor. I think it had some kind of wacky power draw. If you have anything else plugged into the same outlet, or a nearby outlet, try moving it or unplugging it and see if that fixes it. When I plugged my humidifier into a different outlet, everything went back to normal.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:35 AM on February 23, 2006

I second the electrical interference idea. It get this problem sometimes when I have a box fan on the floor near my monitor.
posted by joegester at 10:16 AM on February 23, 2006

I have this problem. I think that the power in my (old) house is inconsistent.
posted by callmejay at 10:58 AM on February 23, 2006

Sometimes, this kind of thing can result from a "ground loop" becoming established between a desktop machine's chassis, and a monitor. If both the monitor and the chassis are equipped with 3 prong grounded plugs, then I think it might be useful to plug them both in to a common outlet strip, and then make sure that strip is plugged into a properly grounded AC outlet. It's pretty common in older cubicle farms, especially those that may have been moved, for the power grounding system to have some problems. Inexpensive testers are available to diagnose these problems.

Bad grounding often shows up only when some high current demands are made, especially in low humidity conditions. But if you at least get the PC chassis and the monitor chassis tied together electrically, you may eliminate the problem. Getting them both grounded to a common ground point is important to making sure the overvoltage and ground fault protection circuits in the PC power supply work as intended for safety.
posted by paulsc at 12:54 PM on February 23, 2006

At an old apartment there was some kind of transformer in the courtyard about 10 feet away from my window and it caused the image on my computer monitor to jiggle. Moving the computer across the room solved the problem.
posted by tut21 at 3:02 PM on February 23, 2006

A monitor in a computer lab I watch over started doing something that could be described as vibrating -- my conclusion (after doing most of the things people described here) was that it's dying, and there was nothing I could do about it. Luckily there were a few extra monitors sitting in the corner.
posted by advil at 6:12 PM on February 23, 2006

Maybe it's becase you're eating pretzels while looking at the monitor?

Seriously, though, I had that problem with a powered air cleaner plugged into the same outlet as my CRT monitor. It caused a wobbling image. I moved the filter to the other side of the room and the problem went away.

If you have a UPS perhaps you could try yanking the plug. This should isolate your computer from the AC line so you can confirm or eliminate the AC power as a variable.
posted by super_j_dynamite at 10:28 PM on February 23, 2006

I have seen that in the old days (386) from a bad monitor port. It's faintly possible it's chips, not salsa.
posted by deep_cover at 5:02 AM on February 24, 2006

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