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How to Make a Portable Game System

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Step 22: LED Modding the Screen

Picture of LED Modding the Screen
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What you need:
Small flathead screwdriver
Hot glue gun
Soldering Iron
IDE cable or other suitable wire
3mm LEDs
Sandpaper or something to diffuse the LEDs
20ohm resistor
Electrical tape
X-Acto knife

WHY YOU SHOULD DO THE LED MOD
LED modding the screen is when you replace the original backlight with LEDs. Why would you want to do this? The unmodified PSone screen draws about 950mA. If you LED mod it, it only draws 450mA! That's a huge difference! In some cases, this can add add hours of playtime to your portable.
On my portable, the current draw is about 1150mA with an LED modded screen. I get 3 hours of play with my 3500mAh battery. If I didn't mod my screen, the entire portable would draw 1650mA. Dividing that into the battery's mAh, you get 2.1 hours. By modding my screen, I gained a whole hour of playing time!
"What's the catch?", you ask. Well, it's a small one. The corners are bright spots, but that's it. It's hardly noticable when you are playing. If you use 8 LEDs you can simulate the original backlight in terms of brightness. If you only use 3, like I did, the screen isn't quite as bright as the original backlight, but it still looks very acceptable. I think the best option is to use 6 LEDs, because it is about 95% of the original brightness, and it isn't as much work as 8.

Enough chit-chat, here's the actual procedure:

TAKING OUT THE SCREEN
Flip your screen over to the backside. Find the screen ribbon connector on the lower-left.

Using the flathead screwdriver, carefully pop up both sides of the connector.

Turn the screen back over and find the plug in the upper-left corner with the white and pink wires coming out of it. This is the CCFL (light tube) connector. Unplug it to free the screen.

Carefully lift the whole screen section away from the motherboard. Watch out for the tab on the screen's ribbon connector.

Picture 4 shows the entire screen section, removed from the main board.

TAKE OUT THE LCD
Now we need to take off the metal surround. Find the rectangular holes in the metal with the white plastic showing through. Use the flathead screwdriver to pry up this part, so the metal is not held in by the plastic tabs. There are tabs on all sides, so make sure you get them all.

Once you are sure you've freed the metal surround, carefully lift it away from the rest. Put it aside for now.

You now have the screen in three pieces. The metal surround, the light box - which we will work on in a moment here - and the LCD. Find a soft cloth and wrap the LCD in it, and put that in a very safe place. You don't want anybody touching it. Make sure you handle the LCD only by the sides. If you want to do the antiglare mod, head to step 22 before putting the screen back together later.

TAKING APART THE LIGHT BOX
The white box-like thing with the connector coming out of it is the "light box". This light box has 5 things inside: two pieces of diffusing plastic, one piece of diffusing glass, a thin "U" shaped tube, and a piece of glossy paper. Make sure you don't touch the glass or plastic; you don't want fingerprints on them.

Find the tabs on this light box and pry them up the same way you did with the metal piece. It's much easier here, because it's plastic instead of metal.

Open up the light box. It has a sticker on the bottom, so it's hinged. Carefully remove the piece of glass and the two pieces of plastic. Make sure you keep them in the right orientation, meaning, don't flip them upside down! It will make the screen dimmer, and if you flip the glass, than you'll have a bunch of white dots on the screen's picture when you're done. (I learned this the hard way.) When picking up the glass and plastic, only touch the edges. Set the glass and plastic in a soft cloth just like the screen and put them somewhere safe. Now take out the glossy piece of paper and put it with the other screen items.

TAKE OUT THE ORIGINAL LIGHT
Carefully remove the CCFL from the plastic. Be careful not to break it, because it has mercury, which can kill you if you breathe it. Keep the tube, in case you decide not to do the LED mod.

INSTALLING THE LEDS
Now we can start the actual procedure. Take 3 LEDs (Or however many you will be using) and diffuse them. You are using 3mm LEDs, right? Any other size won't fit in the light box. Trust me, I've tried. You can get the LEDs from eBay, like I did. I got 100 of them for only $15 shipped. Very cheap! Buying just ONE 5mm LED from Radioshack costs $5! And the brightness is only about 3,000mcd! My LEDs are 14,000mcd and I got a HUNDRED! Best to buy in bulk. ;)

Anyway, back on topic. After you diffused your LEDs, cut out a very small piece of the corner of the plastic light box. It only needs to be big enough for the LED's leads to go through.

Put the LED facing in with the leads going through the slot. Use a VERY small amount of hot glue to hold it in. If you put too much, things won't work out right later. Check picture 14 to see the orientation that I put my LEDs in.

After you do all three LEDs, it's time to put the light box back together. Put the piece of glossy paper back in first. You'll need to cut it a bit to let the LEDs fit. Put the glass in next, then the two pieces of plastic. Make sure the tabs on the left side of the plastic correspond with the pegs on the plastic. Fold the top piece back over, and snap all the tabs back together. If it doesn't want to go easily, open it back up and make sure you didn't use too much hot glue.

PUT THE SCREEN BACK TOGETHER
With the light box closed, I tested the LEDs with the screen placed on top. Looks good to me! Carefully place the metal surround back on, and snap it onto the light box. Be very careful when doing this, if you chip off a corner of the screen's glass, it will no longer work.

Your screen should now be complete! All's that's left to do is solder together the LEDs and attach a resistor.

SOLDER THE LEDS
You want to solder the LEDs in parallel. Get some pieces of ribbon cable, and solder together the three LEDs positives together, then solder the three negatives together. Solder the end of the negative wire to the ground spot just to the left of the screen.

Take your resistor and clip the leads really short, just a couple millimeters long each. I originally used a 10ohm resistor, but that turned out to be too small of a value, because I had 2 LEDs burn out from it. It is best to use 20ohm for these LEDs.
Solder one end of the resistor to the positive wire of the LEDs. Solder a wire to the other end. Put the wire through the hole in the board right below the screen. To the side of that hole is a black, blocky-looking component. This is a mini-7805. Solder the wire to the 5v out, which is the leftmost pin.

Put a piece of electrical tape down on the front of the board, just below the screen.

Hot glue your resistor to that piece of tape.

TEST THE BACKLIGHT
The wiring is done! Plug the screen into it's connector on the bottom of the board, making sure it goes all the way in. Press the connector down to secure the cable, and hook up power! If the LEDs light up, great! If not, check all your wiring. Once the LED backlight is working, turn on the NES. A picture should show up on your screen! Great job! You now have the console, battery, and screen section of your portable done! You may notice that the screen is a little dimmer with 3 LEDs, a small consequence of doing the LED mod. See the next step for a fix, where you can do the "brightness mod". See the step after that for instructions on how to remove the anti-glare layer on your screen, which removes the scratches, makes the screen brighter, and makes the colors look better.
 
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Uh just saying but how do you know if the screen has 950mA when unmodded and 450mA when modded? Did you use a voltimeter or something to measure it? I haven't bought my screen yet and when I look on Amazon to try to find mA I can't find it. Thanks!
1up (author)  MedliDoubleStar3 years ago
Yes, I measured the current draw before and after the mod with a multimeter.
redsoup3 years ago
can i do this with the deal extreme screen
1up (author)  redsoup3 years ago
Sure.
nickmaynard3 years ago
everything works with my project except that the connector in the first and second pictures only works when i press down on it. if i don't press on it, the picture is glitchy or white. any suggestions? i think that maybe i bent the little connector pins when i took the thing on and off but im guessing. have you ever run into this problem?
1up (author)  nickmaynard3 years ago
No, I have not. Check the pins and make sure they are completely soldered on. If you are good at soldering, you might want to reflow all the pins just to be safe. (If you're not, DO NOT try it. ;) ) It could also be the ribbon connector. Are the contacts on it really dirty or anything like that?
Kienan5 years ago
Just a suggestion. What if instead of just a 20 ohm resistor, you used a variable resistor or a couple different resistors for the user to switch between. That way, one could reduce the brightness by increasing the resistance in certain lighting conditions and save considerable amounts of power.
The resistors are used to keep the LEDs from burning out, so changing resistance from high to low would make them burn out faster. Besides, the brightness buttons on the screen will still function.