A while back I was sitting around and wondering what to do with my dead laptop. I knew the mother board was fried but everything else was still in working condition. As a result, I decided to make an external monitor from my dead laptop and proceeded to do the research to find out if this was possible. Below is what I discovered. Unfortunately, there was no way to use the motherboard's VGA connector. The VGA connector on a laptop is used to connect to an external monitor. In any case the VGA connector is output only and wouldn't work for an external screen. As a result, I found that I needed to buy a controller board for the LCD screen, to make it work as an external monitor. This was the main cost but was still less than half the cost of buying an external monitor.
The controller board cost me about $42 not including tax and shipping. However, there are various types that cost less.
I also built a stand for the LCD panel but as you will see, I decided to go a different route.
The information below will illustrate the steps I took to convert my laptop LCD screen into an external monitor.
Step 1: Getting Started
Dead Laptop hopefully with a good and working LCD screen.
LCD controller board
Hobby electronics screwdriver
wire cutters optional
5 inch section of wood 2x3
two 3 inch sections of wood
self tapping wood screws
drill bit for drilling metal
Dremel and cutting disk optional
Note: if your LCD is damaged then don't proceed any further. This instructable will not fix a damaged LCD screen!
Disclaimer: Due note, I take no responsibility for your actions, implied or otherwise. I am not telling you to do anything, This instructable is informational.
Step one. Unplug the dead laptop from any power source AND remove the battery!. The laptop battery is located, usually, on the bottom and can be removed by sliding a release lever. These are lithium ion batteries and can hold a few Amps. The risk of shock might be minimal. However, there is no need to take the risk.
Step 2: Removing the Screws
Step 3: Removing the Frame
Step 4: Remove the LCD
Next you will need to remove the LCD screen. Note that there is a cable attached. This is the LVDS cable. It is best to take apart the rest of the laptop and unplug it from the keyboard. However, the cable can be cut at the bottom. Take care not to cut the two wires going into the inverter (that's the slim circuit board at the bottom.
Step 5: Removing the Cables
Keep track of the plastic front frame and the plastic backing. You will need them to resemble the LCD screen. On the other hand, you have different fingers, just kidding. On the other hand, you can buy a picture frame and put the LCD screen in the picture frame.
Step 6: The Cables
Step 7: Buying the LCD Controller Board
I bought my LCD controller board DIY kit from e-qstore on Ebay. Here is a link:
Mention Instructables they might give you a discount.
The LCD controller board is real easy to connect. It comes with all the required cables, except a VGA cable which you will need, in order to connect your LCD to another computer. You can buy a VGA cable from Best Buy or a computer parts store.
Step 8: The LCD Control Board
1. Plug the LVDS cable into the LCD panel.
2. Plug the LCD panel into the inverter. See picture.
3. Plug the transformer into the LCD control board.
4. Connect the VGA cable to the LCD control Board.
5. Connect the other end of the VGA cable to an operating computer.
6. Press the power button on the LCD control Board-it sits next to the LED.
Step 9: Prepping for a Stand
Step 10: Attaching a Stand to the LCD Panel
Step 11: Attaching the LCD Control Board to the Back of the Laptop Lid.
Step 12: Putting It Back Together
By the way a store bought swing arm half the size of this one, I found, cost around $400.00. If you choose to use a swing arm like this one, go with the one that has a magnifier on it and dremel off the magnifier leaving enough metal to attach to your LCD lid. You need one of this caliber to hold the LCD screen. Swing arms with the light attached are not strong enough.
Step 13: The End.
Step 14: Passing Thoughts
I didn't like the first stand I made. I included some pictures of it above.
Since I was asked about the web cam, I though Should add it to the instructable. There is a nice instructable here at this site showing how to convert a web cam from an LCD screen: http://rntmns.com/2011/02/rebirth-of-a-webcam/
But be careful the guy that did the mod, reversed the power cables.
The USB cable has 4 Wires.
Pin 1 on USB 1. Red- VCC +5V
Pin 2 on USB 2. White- Data+
Pin 3 on USB 3. Green- Data-
Pin 4 on USB 4. Black- Ground
Note, I sourced the web cam from the LCD screen which was a dead HP DV 9000 laptop, working on Windows Vista, originally.
I'm not sure if the web cam wire colors change for different models. However, for the DV 9000 here is the color schematic.
1. Red wire from web cam goes to Pin 1 on USB, Red USB Wire.
2. Light Blue wire from web cam goes to Pin 2 on USB, White USB Wire
3. Black Wire from Web cam goes to pin 3 on USB, Green USB Wire
4. White or faded yellow looking wire goes to pin 4 on USB, Black USB Wire.
The web cam is now wired for plug and play. However, it only works on another computer running Windows Vista. There are no drivers for windows 7, yet. Since I don't have Windows XP, I don't know if it would work on it. Once you have wired it, open Skype on Vista and click on change profile pic. It will show two web cams in the drop down menu. If your web cam starts getting hot then you have revered the power cables.
I have attached some images of the web cam, it's slightly longer than the shift key on the laptop but about half as wide.
There you have it.
Mine works great on my Vista laptop. If you want to use it for checking plumbing pipes, I suppose you can put a small prism on the web cam aperture so you can insert the web cam in a pipe and view images directly ahead--this would be good for archaeology where you need to investigate tight spaces.