- Low Cost (Under $50)
- Simple Interface
- Simple Construction
- Readily Available Components (i.e. no ordering, all locally available)
- Low Build Time ("weekend" or Saturday project)
- Small Footprint
- Low Weight
- Maximum Performance (given the size & complexity restrictions)
I currently run a Quadro FX3000 on my main rig, so a dual monitor setup would entail just that: a second monitor. No extra card or splitter. But then enters the world of personal politics...
See, I am a screen size junkie. Waaay back in the day, I managed to snag a matching pair of Diamond Pro 21TX's from a friend for free, and since then I have had nothing but 21" displays. (Which the womens find utterly disgusting, I might note.)
So, when I begin to look at my "cluttered" 21-inch screen and think "gee, I need more". I look at the girlfriend and smile. She, of course, says "NO!!! Your monitor takes up half the desk as it is! With two of those beasts I wouldn't have room for any of MY stuff!!!"
Keep in mind this is a custom 36x120 (that's three feet by ten feet) desk that I built from scratch with the specific intent of having more room for things like beastly monitors...
I kick it around in my head for a while, and remember that at one time or another, I had wanted to start using laptop TFT LCD's as desktop monitors. And, apparently, so have a bunch of other people. The question has always been the interface. At one time there were a few companies that sold LCD interfaces, and technically there still are.
BUT, with a purchase price between 200 and 500 dollars (see EarthLCD), it would be cheaper and easier to buy a COTS/MOTS LCD instead of an LVDS card for my main rig. What to do, What to do...
Step 1: Laptop Modification
The unit I am using is a Compaq Presario 700 Series (732US). It has a 14.1" TFT LCD screen in relatively good condition, with a good inverter and backlight. Here's a spec sheet of what it left after the system is stripped down:
Microprocessor - AMD Mobile Athlon 4 - 1.2 GHz
Memory - 256 MB 133 MHz SDRAM
Video Graphics - 4X AGP with VIA Twister K Graphics
Maximum Resolution - 1024 x 768 x 16M (24-bit)
Video Memory - 16 MB shared
Multimedia Drive - DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
Display - 14.1 inch TFT XGA Display
Card Slots - Type I/II/III PCMCIA w/ 32-bit CardBus
Network Card - Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
A few things to notice: No hard drive listed. No floppy drive listed. No battery life listed.
The HDD, FDD, battery, speakers, keyboard, touchpad and every "non essential" has been removed. This system has effectively been turned into a "Processor-based Panel PC". My only real bitch (as you will see later) with this entire system is that the rear reflector for the backlight is integral to the screen shell, not the screen itself.
I will be skipping the disassembly phase of this project, as each laptop disassembles differently. And besides, UTFSE for your model and you should be able to find something.
I started by hardwiring the power brick into the motherboard on a 6" pigtail, as I intended to mount it inside the "case" with the screen and everything else.