Instructables
So, your good old Lego Mindstorm display went dead?  What a drag!  Now what?

Well, I found some info on the net which brought my Lego Mindstrom LCD back to life.  Problem was, the fix didn't last for long.  So, in this instructible I'll discuss the conventional wisdom, plus, my own finding to help you bring back your Lego brick back to life.

For reference, here is the link to the original post: http://blogs.wsd1.org/etr/?p=495  This post has some good info and is worth reading.  However, their "fix" is to simply re-solder the LCD caps inside the brick.  Seemed strange to me that re-soldering ceramic surface mount caps would make a difference.  But, I must say, it did work the first time I tried it.  This fix lasted for about three months.  Then, the LCD started flickering and fading  again.

Since my Mindstorm's display was failing again I decided to perform a better fix by replacing the goofy caps.  This "better" fix only lasted about a week.

There must be something else going on with the display besides those caps.

Upon close inspection, I believe the true cause of the display problems is not the caps at all, but instead is the LCD connector ribbon cable.  I think that fooling / re-soldering  the caps simply flexes the ribbon cable which gets the display working again.  However, overtime, the ribbon cable comes loose again.

Well, anyway, below are a bunch of pictures that should help you get your Mindstorm back up and running again, one way or another.  Oh, and standard disclaimer here - do this repair at your own risk.  You could make matter worst for your brick.

 
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jvolk2 months ago

Problem is not in the capacitors but in flat cable. Check out:

jimk3038 (author)  jvolk2 months ago

Wow, that looks crazy to me. The odds of that working long term are slim to none. One good hard hit on the case would make the brick NFG again.

Seems the easier answer is just to send the brick back to Lego for a free repair.

Still, thanks for the link - the video was interesting.

Jim

BS Kustomz3 years ago
i rubbed mine with the handle of a plastic X-mods screw driver and it works fine... FOR NOW lol better than it sitting there and beeping
jimk3038 (author)  BS Kustomz3 years ago
Yep,

Mine died again. Crap!

There must be something I can over the old tape to hold it down better. Maybe some epoxy? Maybe a big wad of sticky-tack? Something?

The old tape is just shot.
I have just purchased some conductive tape from Digi-Key for an exorbident price. Here's the link:
http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?WT.z_header=search_go&lang=en&site=us&keywords=M970312-ND&x=10&y=15
When I receive it, I'll test it. I'm pretty sure it'll work (based on the spec sheet). I'll let y'all know. I apparently have several to fix here.
jimk3038 (author)  mstokes33 years ago
Will the tape not short the contacts on the board?

The issue, seems to me, is that the existing tape is not holding the mylar ribbon cable down onto the circuit board. Even when the existing tape is reattached it tends to up up again.

I'm thinking of adding a ball of blue-tac right on top of the existing tap. Mushing the case down onto the tac will add pressure onto the existing tape / ribbon cable. The hope it that this will force the combo down onto the circuit board. Only problem is latter opening the case. The blue-tac is going to pull the tape away as the case is opened.

The blue tac is not the best solution - I just can't think of a better one. And yes, my display went dead again too! Gotta find a solution before school starts again.

Tough problem to solve,
Jim
Actually, no. The tape is only conductive in the Z dimension. The particles of conduction are spaced far enough apart to allow tracks with a minimum distance of 0.4mm. There are a lot of tracks but they are guaranteed to be separated by this distance. Time will tell. I'll let y'all know.
Any word yet on the tape? If it works, I could sure use some to repair an NXT brick for the school Lego League team.

Thanks, Pat
jimk3038 (author)  phoppel2 years ago
I'm not have any good luck either.

My Lego Mindstorm LCD seems rather dead.  If I push / pull on the display just right I might get it working for a few seconds.

Turns out the tape is just a protective cover. Messing with the tape is just a way to flex the internal ribbon cable, I'm guessing.

Have a look at the attached pictures.

Rather a poor design, it seems to me. See how the ribbon cable makes a really sharp bend? Not good.

I did find something that might be a drop in replacement. Have a look at this:
http://wandisplay.en.alibaba.com/product/202533550-200851330/productdetail.html

I put in a request for info. However, the rep is in China so communications is difficult. Kinda at my wits ends. Might just end up buying a new unit.

Good Luck,
Jim
DSC_2155.JPGDSC_2156.JPG
Hi,
any news about this approach?
jimk3038 (author)  luca_crema2 years ago
I wish I had good news. However, my Mindstorm display is now totally busted. Worst, I can't find a replacement LCD anywhere. I'm dead in the water.

I did workup the nerve (since my NXT is dead anyway) to pull some of the protective tap off the ribbon cable. Attached are a couple pictures showing the exposed ribbon cable. Notice how the ribbon cable must make a super sharp bend around the plastic LCD housing. I think that is the failure point. If I ever replace the ribbon cable I would first cut some relief into that plastic.

Fooling with, and replacing, the surface mount caps, I think, just flexes the ribbon cable and gets it working again for a short while. I don't think the caps really have anything to do with the real problem. I now believe the root cause of the problem is in the ribbon cable since I can get the display to work (intermittently) if I hold the display just right.

I guess I need to workup some more nerve and pull the ribbon cable off completely. The problem is, I don't have any replacement ribbon cable either. So, once the old ribbon cable is removed, I have nothing to replace it with. Oh, and as you can see in the last picture, the ribbon cable dives into the rubber coating on the LCD.

I'm kinda waiting on mstokes3 to tell us how his tape worked too.

Jim
DSC_7132.JPGDSC_7131.JPGDSC_7134.JPG
the daughterboard seems very simple but the schematic does not show the LCD part number; it seems a 12-pin lcd, while the "alibaba" part you were looking for is 14-pin (from the photograph)

as you see in the documentation LCD is 100x64dots 26x40.6mm area
3V supply + 9V driving voltage 

http://mindstorms.lego.com/upload/contentTemplating/MindstormsOverview/otherfiles/2057/LEGO%20MINDSTORMS%20NXT%20Hardware%20Developer%20Kit%283%29_7A0CF630-CCE5-4AAF-91FA-D1E7C911817C.zip

clearly, by replacing the LCD with the same part will only pospone the problem in time....

we need a "lateral" engineering idea

luca

PS: flexing the ribbon cable I myself can fix or get the problem , just like you did; the problem is really not in the soldering
legokeypad.jpg
jimk3038 (author)  luca_crema2 years ago
I think I did find a replacement LCD - note, I did this search a while ago. I found this LCD at a Chinese manufacture ans I sent them a request for more information and got the an email back from them.

I've added a new "Step 5" to this instructable that has the attached PDF drawing that they sent to me.  So, look for the new step in this indestructible for the PDF.

The attached PDF shows the same pinout as the NXT. The problem is, their minimum order amount is 3,000 pieces!

Anyway, good luck with your NXT display,
Jim

Lisa - Formike formikelcd05@wandisplay.com
Sep 7 to jim.kemp, Burtton

Dear Mr.James,

Nice to meet you. This is Lisa from Formike Electronic Co.,Ltd.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Attached the drawing for your reference. Please help to confirm whehter can meet your requirement.

By the way,would you help to confirm the quantity for your inquiry? It will be our big pleasure if we have opportunities to be on service of you in near future.

Looking forward to your reply.

Best regards,
Lisa Huang Oversea sales manager Sales & MKT Department

Formike Electronic Co.,Ltd. | www.wandisplay.com Room 14H, HanKing Building, 23# DengLiang Road, NanShan District, ShenZhen 518054, China. P: +86(0)755-88306921 Ext:809| F: +86(0)755-88304615 Email: formikelcd05@wandisplay.com | lisa@formike.com.cn Skype: formikelcd05 | MSN: formikelcd05@hotmail.com
"If I ever replace the ribbon cable I would first cut some relief into that plastic.":

I'd try this, since there is a particular pressure point on the ribbon cable that makes everything work perfectly.
Please did you find it easy to remove the LCD from the plastic housing? Any advice?
Luca
jimk3038 (author)  luca_crema2 years ago
Oh yeah, just pry the LCD glass up. The glass is held down into the plastic housing with two pieces of double sided tape. Don't be shy, once the tape starts to give way the LCD will come up free and easy.

The tape holding the LCD down is reusable too. Setting the LCD back down on the tape reactivates the tape. Good as new.

Good luck,
Jim
Jim,
looking better at the way to cut the plastic and back to the flex, I found that I have a different case than you, perhaps.

And I could solve the problem with a nail.

I tried to draw a sketch and upload it.

If you can see, it's better for me to explain.
The tape "invites" the flex ribbon to make a curve AGAINST the plastic.
The super-sharp bend is done "wrapping" against the PCB (down direction) and then curving upwards against the plastic.
With the nail I could push the tape to avoid the "super-bend" as you called it.

And now it works.

Probably one has to but something to avoid the superbend...

Luca.
LCD_flex.jpgnxt_ok.jpg
Figure with a proposal (tiny roll of paper ? ) in blue.

Luca.
LCD_flex_fixed.jpg
I've found a PERMANENT and somewhat simple fix to this problem. Take a rotary tool and grind out a section of the raised bit level with the bit the board sits on, right where the cable is. This allows the cable to bend less sharply, and doesn't have anything to knock loose or involve re-taping the cable.
jimk3038 (author)  mstokes33 years ago
Wow, fancy fancy stuff. Didn't know tape like that existed. It does sound expensive. Still, if it works that would be great.

Yes, please let us know how you make out.

Thanks,
Jim
Can't you ask for a sample? even just paying for shipping isnt bad.
I have tried the soldering of the caps but I don't think this is the solution. Some have success by heating the ribbon cable up on the surface of the daughter board . I think the most direct fix is at this post: http://sourceforge.net/apps/phpbb/mindboards/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1159

You have to be good with delicate work though...

But of course, Lego customer support would be the first place to go, they have replaced two of my units free of charge! (I have 5 kits in total :-)
jimk3038 (author)  binary_man_10102 years ago
I tried to contact them without a lot of success. The sales lady has a real hard time with an English speaker like me. She was all about figuring out how many thousands of displays I was going to need each year. She was not to interested when she found out I only needed a few samples and hand no production intent.

The good news is, just send your brick back to Lego and they will repair it for free.

Jim
pillopaolo2 years ago
Hi all,

VERY GOOD NEWS!

Just call Lego Customer Service, they will replace the Intelligent Brick for FREE.

The have admitted it is a common problem due to a bad design of the product and they replace the brick EVEN if the standard warranty period is expired (I bought my brick in 2007, now it is 2012!)

Sorry to interrupt this interesting and challenging project.

Ciao
Paolo
Thank you so much for telling me this. I've been hanging around this topic for nearly a year looking for updates on repair techniques and it never even occurred to me to call customer support.

A three minute phone call got me a replacement ordered. Thanks again.
jimk3038 (author)  2ndPSP2 years ago
That's great news! I've been too lazy to actually call. It's great to hear that the Lego folks are doing the right thing! I gotta get mine sent in before they change their mind.

Thanks for the feedback,
Jim
jimk3038 (author)  pillopaolo2 years ago
No, no,

Interruptions like your's are super welcome. I actually boxed up my old brick for spare parts and bought a new one!

After my old brick is repaired, I'll have two bricks. Two are better than one - now we can play with bluetooth messages between bricks.

Thanks so much,
Jim

BTW, I have not actually called Lego yet. I add another comment once I get my brick successfully repaired by Lego. Almost sounds too good to be true. Gotta love Lego.
lamikam2 years ago
Does Lego Corp have any sort of repair service? Or, is there any 3rd party that does repairs that you know of?
lamikam lamikam2 years ago
Hmmm, I'll take a look. The rest of the board looks fairly well-buit. It is a shame that they used such a cheapo connector. The price of Lego stuff never really goes down much. I can't justify spending $100 just for a spare part.
jimk3038 (author)  lamikam2 years ago
None that I know of.

As is typical of this kinda of stuff, a used eBay brick is probably gonna be cheaper. I just did a search and there are used NXT bricks going for around $100 bucks.

It's too darn bad too. All I need is a source for the LCD and my brick would be just fine. I've found similar LCD replacement parts for well under $10 dollars. However, only the right part number is going to fit just right.

After much searching I think I found the right part number (I think). Here is a link to the LCD replacement part:

http://wandisplay.en.alibaba.com/product/202533550-200851330/productdetail.html

Problems is, I'm betting they are not going to be too happy dealing with hobbyist trying to do their own repairs.

To be fair, I never really tried to order from these folks. For all I know they may be happy to send a couple LCD replacement parts.

Soooooo... Hint, hint, hint. Maybe someone would like to take this one on and order a few replacement displays.

Good luck,
Jim