How to Convert a Laptop LCD into an External Monitor.

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Hello there. This is my first Instructable

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.
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GeekyAdam2 years ago
I'm so glad I found this... I have a nearly identical HP laptop that you used and recently noticed that it was overheating and too much work to fix up, but the big beautiful display works great and I was sadly thinking I'd be better off selling it rather than dissecting the entire thing to fix its overheating issue.
Now I have a new use for it!
zerofootprint3 (author)  GeekyAdam2 years ago
Actually, you can do One better. You can salvage the RAM, the Wireless card, the Batteries, the charger, the hard drive, the DVD disk player and sell them to people that need them on E-bay and Still keep the LCD screen for yourself.

I suppose I should have made this Instructable on how to salvage your laptop. I'll have to wait till another one dies.

Genius! As an honorary "Red neck" (U.K. chapter, it's a good thing, honest) I'm putting your application in the post. You have given me the three screens I need for my simpit plus a lot of peripherals that I hadn't even considered. Thanks.

Re-design2 years ago
Very nice instructable. This instructable is the answer to a question that comes up about once a week in instructables questions and will get referred to often.
Uffe1 month ago

This is awesome. I have 3 working laptop screen salvaged from broken laptops!

KeegonM3 months ago

This is helpful. I want to also use the keyboard and trackpad as external input devices as well so I basically can use my old broken laptop to controll my gaming desktop.

pyrojinx66447 months ago
It was simple. Thanks for the instructable. Very helpful!
bigz3311 months ago

Thanks for the great instructable! I'm not sure if you'll respond to this since the last post was a year ago...
I completed the project, but my monitor is very dim...I've tried to adjust the brightness using the monitor's menu, but with no success...any ideas?

JaiBo951 year ago

Just wondering if anyone can help, I have bought the controller board for this, its all connected to both pc and power. Turning it on my pc recognizes it and under 'screen resolution' it shows two displays available and i can set my laptop screen as primary just fine. But the screen wont display anything. If anyone can help that would be great! :)

p.s. if it helps the light on the control board with the power button blinks green for half a second or so, then sharp and quick red then repeats.

JaiBo951 year ago

Just ordered the parts, going to set this screen under my glass desk as an easy to refer to code bible! thanks xD

James___UK1 year ago

Thanks man, worked a charm!

Something to try when my laptop completely dies.

For now, looking for a way to reuse the lcd screen I took out of a portable dvd player. (Horrible resolution, but might be good digital picture frame etc)

asherlock11 year ago
Would this work for a desktop?
snaganna1 year ago
My laptop Compaq v6000 is dead (dead motherboard for). Is there anyway to still use the LCD? I'd like to hook it up to a DVD player Through AV Out socket ?
number_one1 year ago
This is cool, but what would make it1000% better is to find a way to keep the screen in the laptop case and also configure the laptop's keyboard and touchpad to be able to be hooked up to another computer. This way you don't need to build a custom stand and you get a portable screen, keyboard, and mouse/touchpad that can be easily and quickly be hooked up to another computer for diagnostics (or a headless system in a server room). It would be doubly awesome since you apparently can't even buy a device like that.
relic19741 year ago
I am looking to do this with a small netbook lcd. It should be possible to use a pcDuino or Raspi as the controller board along with the right code to provide a HDMI capable display. has anyone tried this? I'm wanting a small dedicated display for the pcDuino. I'm also researching on recycling the keyboard from the same netbook and convert it to USB. reassembled, the pcDuino would fit nicely into the old netbook housing!
ashiekh1 year ago
Small high resolution monitors just don't seem to exist, so this may be the only route to get one. However, the exposed parts are a bit vulnerable, and I wish someone would produce such monitors.
Nicely done and very informative!! However unfortunately, by the time you add the cost of the LCD Controller card, various parts and time you could have bought a new inexpensive monitor.

This may come in handy converting an old iMac with a large LCD screen, where one can gut it, replace the motherboard with the LCD controller and reuse the converted iMac case.

I've bought a laptop display earlier this year, because I wanted to upgrade a Samsung laptop with a 1280x800 15.4" display to 1680x1050 (there were some models of that laptop sold with that resolution, so I though I'd try). Turns out, it didn't really work (got a picture but it was all lined/greyed, probably the data cable was only for smaller resolutions or the graphics card had the resolution hard coded into the BIOS). Whatever the case, my wife didn't let me try again with a new data cable because the first attempt kinda broke the display frame (it was cracked before, now it is broken all around). So I had this LCD laying around for the past 7 months with nothing to do. While digging around for stuff to do with the monitor, I found your tutorial.
Didn't try anything until last week, when I bought a controller board and a PSU. It came today and it is working well. I've bought a monitor stand where I want to attach it. I was planning on gluing some nuts onto the rear of the display (since mine is naked, I can't do it like you did) and then attach the display to the stand like that. My main question is, can I screw/glue the controller board and inverter onto the back of the display or will there be inference or something which messes with the display? I know putting magnets near LCDs might give you weird pictures, would the electricity in those parts act similarly? :D
Treknology1 year ago
Three million candle-power torch!? I would love to see a photo of that alone.
Jaboo1 year ago
Hi, thanks for this instructable! I wanted to ask if this is possible by using the cotroller from the laptop, Avoiding the BUY A LCD CONTROLLER BOARD, if that is possible or not, please answer, I have this old laptop on my hands with a dead disk drive.
to do that you would need a laptop that has a dedicated graphics card/accelerator, if it is embedded with the northbridge then No (a circuit diagram of yours or a simular model can help). if it is not in the bridge, then remove the north bridge chip, and look for the signals that go to the graphics card, if PCIE then you can make do in most cases with 1x, 2x, 4x or 8x (you dont always require all 16x) depending on the slot on your motherboard, which is great as that requires less wires. I have run graphics accelerator cards in the 1x slot - still works well, but i suspect that it may slow if you intend on viewing detailed graphics. If AGP then you will only be able to replace your existing AGP card in the older computer. if PCI (really old - i kind of like the picture on those old laptop screens) you will need to hook up the PCI bus, and rerout the address pins of the graphics card and any other PCI perhipherals you want to use on the computer board to each slot on the computer. you will need a PCI to PCI bridge if you want more perhipherals than you have spare slots! (example laptop perhipherals is the PCMCIA, network and sound card) To tidy up, You may as well remove some of the other unused controller chips and CPU to reduce power consumption (you can tell by their temperature while powered). And.... Good luck!
nice one. I now what to do whenn my laptops breaks down.
askomer1 year ago
nice job for your first!, have seen this problem floating around for a while. got to agree that it is cheaper to go to cl and pick up a used lcd monitor for 5-10 bucks,.But where's the fun in that! I'll probably order a board and make this a winter project. As stated above it it be the bomb if it was possible to use the laptop controller. i think the main hang up with this would be isolating an input point on the mobo/gpu for a vga source. I've got 4 mac G3 powerbooks that could turn my workspace into the Nebuchadnezzar. will see where i stand next spring. many thanks!
Think this could be done with a monitor from a tablet PC that uses a Wacom digitizer?
Nice project dude, can I have board for this model b140xw01...
Nice project dude, can I have board for this model b140xw01...
Your instructable is so clear and the idea is fresh. Good work pal, and thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

Apparently they don't make a controller for my screen; I couldn't find it at least.

My screen's product number is N156B3-L0B If any of you people can help me find it I would be very grateful.
zerofootprint3 (author)  nago jolokio1 year ago
There is probably another controller that would work. You will have to contact them to see if they have one. I have run into this problem before and they sent me a controller for another that worked fine.
crazyg2 years ago
zerofootprint3 (author)  crazyg2 years ago
Wow. Thanks. I had no idea.
azterik2 years ago
Awesome write up!! How about a dvi/hdmi/displayport connection ;)
zerofootprint3 (author)  azterik2 years ago
Actually, there are DVI ports on the LCD controller boards. I bought one with and without a DVI port. Most of my connections are VGA so i usually go with that. However, when you go to buy your LCD control board, make sure to buy one with a DVI port on it--that should resolve the connection issue.
ARJOON2 years ago
butt scratcher on table lol!!!
your room looks like mine
Even just seeing pictures of your workstations motivates me to create!
zerofootprint3 (author)  FuzzyBearGeek2 years ago
Sadly, motivation is never my problem. However, having the resources to create has always been a plague to all those that create.
johnnyjcap2 years ago
does all this do is replicate the first screen?
with it show up as a 2nd monitor under display settings? and if so, can the resolution be adjusted?
zerofootprint3 (author)  johnnyjcap2 years ago
It will show up as a second monitor or in the event your laptop screen dies you can use it as the primary. Also, you can either duplicate the screen or extend your screen to the second monitor. This will expand your desktop space.
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