The restoration process continued:

Electronic Repairs Continued:

The New CRT:

After rebuilding the HV supply and installing it, I tried the game again, and again it played blind but there was no picture. Agghhh! I just stood there for 10 minutes thinking "You got to be freakin' kidding me!" I immediately started live testing all of the critical voltages. I found the plus/minus 28 VDC monitor supplies. On the board there was the regulated +5V. On the board and on the neck socket there was the +90V, the +400V, and on the anode there was exactly 16 kV ! On the board, I could see the digital data activity of the DAC80 input lines on my scope. I could see the analog deflection drive signals. I could see the activity of the deflection drive transistors. I could hear the deflection coil chatter. The game was running, and it was playing too. I just couldn't see anything. Why? There was only one possibility, a bad CRT. Oh my God. The universe won.

The hell it did. I didn't come this far to quit now. There had to be a way. I started doing my homework. Within a few days, I learned of an old story about Amperex CRT's in Star Castles being dim right from the factory, something about a last minute change in suppliers or a bad production run. The story goes that they got progressively dimmer over time. In fact, they got so dim that the game could no longer be played and in many cases, the games were scrapped rather than repaired. So I looked at a label on my CRT and sure enough, it wasn't a Sylvania, it was Amperex. Oh man, just my luck.

Then it hit me that maybe, just maybe, the game was working at this point but that it was just so dim that I couldn't see it. So I got up and turned off every light in the room. I also unplugged the marquee lamp. I stood there in the pitch black dark in front of the machine for a few minutes waiting for my eyes to adjust. Slowly, gradually, I started to see something. A strange haunting whisper of light coming from the screen. Yes, there it was. A picture was really there. Not only that, it looked like all of the drawn lines were correctly positioned. I leaned forward with my face about 10 inches from the bezel. I started a game and played it. I took some shots. I flew around. The controls were all working perfectly. Then I blew up the Star Castle. Okay, great, wish I could've seen it though. So what do I do about the dimmest picture tube on Earth?

After some investigation, I found a Canadian distributor for Richardson Electronics, a company that sold a new equivelent CRT to the 19" unit in Star Castle. It only cost me $150 Canadian dollars to replace the CRT with a brand new one including shipping and it was delivered to my door in less than a week.

Changing the CRT was easy. Just 4 bolts for the frame and a single screw to unclamp the yoke assembly. My yoke just slid right off the old neck and onto the new one. It was really easy. I aligned the rotation by eye and that's it.

I was nervous, but right after installing the new CRT, I turned on the game. In less than 10 seconds (it has a fast heating filement), there was a bright beautiful picture, and the geometry was perfect. I tweaked the size with pots on the board and the position with the ring-magnet tabs on the yoke assembly. Then I played a few games of Star Castle for the first time in over 20 years. It was great !

Here's the new CRT as it arrived in the box and after I installed the original yoke.


Star Castle CRT Source:

The Star Castle original Sylvania CRT was 19VARP4. The original Amperex CRT was M50-102W.

Ideal replacements & Technical Data:

Download Datasheet
M47EAA19WS Philips Can someone contribute this?
M47EAA7WS Philips M47eaa.pdf
951M20H193GHZLE Clinton Electronics 951.pdf


In 2006, I purchased the M47EAA19WS from Richardson Electronics and it cost me $109 Cad plus shipping. This source no longer stocks any of the Star Castle compatible CRT models. They have run out of stock and have stated repeatedly that they are no longer carrying this model CRT. I am keeping this contact posted just in case the status changes or in case you can use them to source another model CRT for a different project.

Richardson Electronics home page: Just click on the 'Products' menu and scroll down to 'CRTs'.

As of March 2010, the following source still had stock. As of Aug. 2013, there site reports no stock but you could contact them anyway just in case.

Union Electronic Distributors: M47EAA19WS CRT

As of Aug. 2013, this source's site reported that they still had stock...

Video Display Corp ($145 USD): M47EAA19WS CRT

Other CRT pages for general interest:

A word about Atari GO5-802 Monitor CRT Replacement :

The Star Castle original Sylvania CRT was 19VARP4. The perfect replacement is M47EAA19WS.

The Atari GO5-802 original CRT was also 19VARP4 and the recommended replacement was M47EAA7WS. The new replacement for the M47EAA7WS is the M47EAA19WS, the same as for Star Castle. They are all the same.

In April 2008, purchased 3 new M47EAA19WS CRT's (from Richardson Electronics) for use in my Asteroids Deluxe, Battlezone, and Cinematronics games. I installed them and all of the games worked perfectly. As of April 2010, they are still working perfectly.

What about the ISL feature?

The ISL or 'internal surge limiter' is stated to be included in the 951M20H193GHZLE model CRT. It is a gun design feature that is supposed to protect your deflection board electronics from CRT generated transients. Some people have read this and believe that this feature makes this model superior to the other models. Here's the thing... they all have it. I contacted Rell asking them to specifically comment on the compatibility of the 951M20H193GHZLE with the M47EAA19WS and 19VARP4. They assured me that they are all functionally exactly equivelent. Rell has been selling these CRT's by the tens of thousands over the past 30 years so I'd like to think that their experience has merit and is worth considering. Accepting this then, it really doesn't matter which model you buy. Whichever one you get, it'll work fine and last a long time.

If that doesn't convince you, consider this simple logic. My machines (and yours too) are 29 years old and no surges or other strange phenomenon have destroyed them yet. That said, where early 80's Cinematronics and Atari games are concerned, the original CRT's must have been relatively good overall.


Continue to Star Castle page 6 of 8, the completed project

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