The backlight for the LCD screen in most laptops is a cold-cathode fluorescent lamp, which is basically just a small fluorescent tube. Just like fluorescent room lighting, they eventually burn out. Unlike room lighting, they are not made to be replaceable.

Here's my quick and dirty (and cheap) project to replace the lamp on my old laptop, who's backlight burnt out recently. I expect you could make this look a lot better if you were willing to put some more money into sourcing parts.

Materials: Screwdrivers, Dremel, electrical tape, wire crimping tubes.

The specifics of disassembling any particular laptop are going to vary widely, so I'm going to skip that step for simplicity. If you're not confident just diving in to your laptop, you'll frequently be able to find illustrated parts breakdows (IPBs) at the manufacturer's site for some guidance.

NOTE: High resolution photos available on Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/killerrobotclan/sets/72157605872353185/detail/

Step 1: Getting at the Lamp

Though the specifics of how to do this will vary widely, you'll need to entirely remove the LCD assembly from the lid of your laptop, so that you can get at the bottom edge which houses the lamp. It should be the only part of the screen which has heavy gauge high-voltage wires going to it. It will be connected to a shielded inverter circuit, which is often inside the laptop itself, but sometimes behind the screen, as here.

I bought a generic white CCFL tube at a locally owned hobby shop; these are also available online. The easiest way to test that the laptop's inverter would light it correctly was to hook it up. I used simple wire crimps to splice the wiring tail from the old lamp onto the new one, and plugged everything in. Looks good so far.
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nice instructable i have a 15 year old broken lcd screen,i removed the CCFL and tested it on another laptop and it works along with the inverter! the only thing is that i had to remove 2 screws to get it out from behind a metal sheet that is hiding it
for some reason, that thing reminds me of a half restored muscle car... between the "war" damage, the age, the operating system and the replaced backlight...
That's probably a good analogy. This machine is definitely past its retirement age, but it's lived through so much already that it seems wrong to stop trying to keep it alive, even if just for the fun of it.

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