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Can You Reuse A Laptop's LCD? 16

Josiah Dykstra asks: "I have a dying laptop computer, but a 14.1 inch LCD that still works fine. With the high cost of flat panel LCDs for desktops, is there a way to modify my laptop LCD and use it as the display device on my desktop?" Hmmm....homemade webpads, maybe?
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Can You Reuse A Laptop's LCD?

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  • Can one reuse an Iopener LCD? I fried one of my iopeners and have an extra LCD.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Sunday July 09, 2000 @09:55PM (#946738) Homepage Journal
    I've been looking around all day trying to find out details about using laptop LCD's. The best site I've found is The LCD Information and Technical Forum [] on EIO. There's lots of information there (although most of it is about character lcd's) and it was a good lead to finding part numbers on laptop lcd's. This site [] sells replacement LCD screens - some of which are sub-$150. However, on EIO they often sell laptop LCD's for $9-$25! Unfortunately I still have no idea how to use them. Sharp makes the biggest range of laptop LCD's but they don't supply datasheets for the high end LCD's on the web - you have to call them up and ask them to fax it to you. If someone can get Sharp to email them pdf's on the various laptop LCD's they make (hell, even a selection guide would be nice), I'd love a copy.

    I want a monochrome LCD screen connected to an ultra low power CPU. I don't need 600 MHZ of processing power on the road. I just want some random motorolla processor hooked to an IDE interface, a half size keyboard (detachable) and a monochrome LCD. Using your standard lithium ion laptop battery (the one that powers a desktop equivilent laptop for 1 1/2 hours tops) I could power this baby for hours. Put it in an attache case [] and you've got a laptop that I can install linux on and code for days. Perfect for lectures, holidays and when you're out and about and bored out of your mind.

  • If you find the answer to this, I'd worship you. (I wish this didn't appear just in "Ask Slashdot" but on the main story page as well.) I recently dumped a long-time color laptop (power problems), and I really wished I could salvage the LCD and make something useful into it. (Although a touch screen would be better for a web-pad, wouldn't it?)

    I did see warnings in the area of the LCD about high voltages (assuming its for the display -- who knows), and there was a particularly disheartening connector leading up to the display with a mass of wires. Doesn't look easy.
  • Those high voltage warnings are for the backlight tube, sence it is a fluorescent tube it take very high voltages to run, thought they appear to be very low current because I electruted my self while working on on time, still hert thought. Moral of this lesson unless you know what you are doing or are willing to take responaceabilty for your actions stay away.

    The problem with allthose wires is that it is a digital signal, and I doubt a standard singal. I worked on a toshiba that once that used a removeable video card, you could probley get somewhere by useing that, then all you need to do is to supply the proper voltage
  • OK. Here's some background. The answer is maybe.

    First, you'll need something to convert the VGA signals to the lcd pannel's format. This format isn't hard, but you have some interesting timing windows on some parts. However, I'm not aware of any commercial chips that will do this. There has got to be some, since there are a larege class of VGA LCD monitors out there. I'd start looking in databooks to try to find them.

    Another option would be to get a ISA/PCI card that will drive a flat pannel LCD directly. This will almost certainly involve some tricky custom cables to make it work, and you'll likely have a fairly short cable run (on the order of 1-2 feet, sometimes 3 or more is possible, but when I've seen it done there is extreme ghosting).

    If all you want is a battery sipping device, I'm very happy with my NEC MobileGear2 MC/R430. This is what NEC sells in this country as a Mobile Pro 750C (well, more or less). It has about a 14 hour battery life, decent screen (640x240), tiny form factor, etc. It normally runs Windows CE, but I have mine running NetBSD/hpcmips [] and it works great. Even X works, but I have my large flash disk on order to be able to run that.

    The IBM z50 is also a good choice. It too is a MIPS based Windows CE machine. Runs a little cheaper than the MobilePros (since IBM dumped them) and has about as good a battery life (10 hours rather than 14) under NetBSD/hpcmips. It has a better screen too, but the keyboard has an odd touch to it.

    Good luck. If you don't have the datasheet for your LCD screen, you may be in a lot of trouble.

  • An ISA/PCI interface to LCD. Good idea. Of course, there are also a lot of industrial and PC/104 boards with LCD controllers -- you could also recycle an LCD panel by finding a system with a compatible controller.
  • by ballestra ( 118297 ) on Monday July 10, 2000 @10:19AM (#946743) Homepage
    There was an earlier article about this here []. You will need an LCD controller card, as opposed to your typical graphics card, since most laptop LCDs run off a digital signal. Someone in the earlier thread mentioned that [] sells these cards, but I just checked that site and they only sell to OEMs.

    It would be nice if there were a cheap solution. It seems like such a waste to not be able to reuse old active matrix laptop screens.

  • I spent several weeks trying to make something like this work. It isn't as cheap as you might wish.

    The video card required, which has a non-standard digital (not analog) output, is extremely expensive relative to the LCD you want to hook it up to. Also it doesn't quite work as smoothly as they (vendors/manuf.) might lead you to believe.

    If you look around the EIO site a bit, you'll come across a testimonial for a Sage card. Don't believe it!! After weeks of looking around, I finally called the guy who wrote the testimonial at his house. What he basically told me was that the card was given to him by the company to test, and he didn't want to write a bad review because of it. He said it was an absolute nightmare to get working, and it didn't perform well at all when it finally did work.

    His final advice was to just look around for cheap LCD's. Fry's had one on sale... a Viewsonic 15"... for $650. The Sage card will come in around $350 + tax and shipping, and may never work. Then you need a case for the display and an inverter, if you can find one.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the length of the cable. I think you only get like 18" or something for these. In your application, that might work. But for what most people are probably trying to do, it won't.

    I know I know, I didn't want to believe it either. But sometimes you just can't beat the system. :(

    If you find a way, I'd love to hear about it!! I have several LCD's sitting around waiting for me to set up a Matrix-like 12 display system for my house. :)

  • Try these links: [] []

    "Give the anarchist a cigarette"
  • Check [] it's about someone who's built his A500 to have an lcd screen and more.. (sorry for mentioning the amiga here - don't beat me :-) The article mentions a laptop's lcd won't work as the controller for that is on the motherbord, he used 'an industrial' type of lcd. So getting an lcd screen for your project should be possible, using one of a scrap laptop will be a problem.. (unless you find out what part of the motherbord you have to use ? :-)
  • connecting your LCD:

    so you have an LCD but don't have a controller/card for it? Try this:

    a) go to []
    b) find your model of LCD in thier list
    c) cross reference that with what kind of video card you want - you have 3 options: ISA, PCI, or ANALOG (analog meaning passthru connector)

    This should get you started. I got a sweet panel and card (aka controller) from them for my sweet sweet MP3 Jetta []. The Heads Up Display (HUD) didn't come from though...

  • I did see warnings in the area of the LCD about high voltages (assuming its for the display -- who knows), and there was a particularly disheartening connector leading up to the display with a mass of wires. Doesn't look easy.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the high voltages involved.

    The inverter itself is usually quite tiny and supplies a very efficient backlighting system, whether it's through the little fluorescent tubes or through an electroluminescent sheet.

    All of this stuff *has* to be very efficient, because the more power the thing uses, the shorter the life of the battery, and that's not a good selling point.

    I've never actually put an ammeter to the inverter or actually tried to current test one, but I'd expect they'll mostly put out in the range of 150-250V, with 1.0-2.0mA short circuit output current. That translates to about 0.5 watts of energy to run the backlighting - easily enough, I'd think.

    So, what kind of shock would that give you? It'd hurt, but unless you deliberately tried to apply that power so that it had a clear line through your heart or your brain, you'd be in trouble.

    Use the good ole one-hand rule: When working in live equipment, keep the other hand *in your pocket*. (When the unused hand is allowed to escape the pocket, it occasionally has been known to wander towards the chassis or controls of the device that you're working on, and has been responsible for causing shocks...)

    Biggest zap I've ever received?

    Deliberately, sitting on a tesla coil at work, while tuning the secondary. We use it for testing high voltage insulators for one of our product lines. Somewhere in the 10MeV range. Sparks 15 feet long. No current behind it, feels like a good static electric shock. (But it's really cool watching corona and sparks jump off your fingertips.)

    Accidentally, and far more dangerous: the horizontal output stage in a 1954 RCA color TV set. (The very first color TV sold to the general public, I love and collect very old TV sets, and I was helping to restore this one.) About 4kV with easily 50mA of current available. That's more than an electric chair. I brushed the anode cap of the horizontal output tube, and immediately the skin was black and scorched. Fortunately, I was using the one-hand rule, so I have a scar, not a coffin.

  • LCD's are quite the same if you think of the way it works. Normaly you have a data bus and a few control lines. It's all about the controller chip. If you know waht chip it is all you have to do is find the datasheet and you will know how to connect and operate the lcd []s for all Adilson.
  • As a fellow Jetta owner, I can sympathize, but I would hope it has a direct GPS-enabled lookup of the nearest VW dealer if your Jetta (not MP3) reliability experience is anything like mine!


  • Seems many topics are interesting here, but I am still learning what I can do here. If I make a post here, where it goes?
  • Try going to, they quite often have this sort of thing, although they're NOT particularly cheap. Worth a look to see what's available though. Anyone know where I can get a screen for an old thinkpad 360?

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