Dual Monitors in NT4 with No Tricks


Walters Curt L Contr AEDC/SVT

I am running WinNT 4.0 systems- some with 2 monitors and some with 4. The setup was a no-brainer. I switched to the magnified cursor to
make it easier to find amongst the multiple monitors. I am using Appian JeronimoPro cards which come with Appian HydraVision software.
This allows not only the larger workspace, but the workspace can also be virtual to give an even larger work area. The monitors can be configured as a horizontal row, vertical column, or a 2x2 array (four monitors). The Appian literature says it supports up to 16 monitors. I agree that the multiple monitor workspace is addictive.


Robert Raesemann

I have also had good luck with Matrox Millennium cards. You can put two in the computer and they include drivers to allow NT 4.0 to use both. The only problem is that it makes the screen looked like 2048x768 (assuming a resolution on each monitor of 1024x768). The login prompt comes up split in the middle between the two screens. Once you login it has a utility to make dialogs show up on one screen or the other. There is a utility that lets you decide how to arrange the monitors so you could also stack them 2 high.

Overall the performance was very good and it was a very nice development station. Unfortunately I was doing some prototyping for a UI station and
had to give up the equipment when it went into production. With monitors and Matrox cards being fairly cheap these days, it would not be that
expensive to setup anymore, under $800 now. Back then it was more expensive.

There are also a number of specialty cards that allow multiple monitors under NT 4.0. They are more expensive than off the self cards but there is one out there that has 4 Matrox G200's on it. You can put 2 cards in the machine and drive 8 monitors total. I don't know the name but I have seen it working with 4 monitors and it is very, very nice. The setup I saw used 4 NEC 18" flat panels running at 1280x1024 resolution. These things were about $3800 apiece and I think the card was close to $1000. Very expensive now but maybe in another 5 years you'll be able to pick the monitors up for $250 and then I could afford a setup like that on my desk. The thought make
my geeky heart yearn.

Alex Pavloff

NT4 can, with the proper graphics card. I've seen work done on a Matrox card (not sure the exact model), which basically said that the screen size was 2048x768, and had two ports on the back of the card.
I have done a few two monitor apps using the Matrox Millenium cards under NT with RSView.
The use of a machine with that much screen real estate is quite addicting, as has been mentioned before. It's always a chore to let those systems go...

The real problem with two monitor apps is to do the homework up front with regard to user navigation. How does the operator get to where he needs to go, do you allow draging of windows, and how do you position pop-up screens etc. And of course you need to look at the failure possibility. Having two monitors should make the system more reliable, (two monitors and video cards should be better than one), in case one fails you should still be able to run (not loose everything).

We have successfully used video cards that support 2 and 4 monitors on a number of VTS projects under NT4. It was the Predator series by
Colorgraphics (Predator2 and Predator4). These PC-based systems were replacing DCS's at power plants (i.e. Unix at Niagara Falls and a couple of
Baileys at Fossil sites) and manufacturing facilities and thus required the DCS feel. The SCADA\HMI software supported multiple concurrent Display Managers to be run, with each Display Manager Object being given its own set of windows coordinates. Thus one monitor would typically show the Alarm List, another trending, and two others for process. The pages shown on each
were selectable by the operators, or could be locked in place. The operators used one mouse and keyboard for all, and only one VTS software license was required for this station. I believe the Colorgraphics cards also work under WIN95 and WIN98, and come in PCI and/or AGP versions. Check out http://www.colorgraphic.co.uk/predator4.htm for specs and manuals on the four port version. I believe the cost for the two monitor version was around $275 US.

And yes, it makes for a great desktop too! But think about how many desktop icons you will loose track of.

Barry Baker, P.Eng.
VTS SCADA Software