Turn a broken laptop screen into a portable light table for drawing


A friend donated me this old laptop, which had a broken LCD. The laptop was old but it worked just fine. I had no intention to spend money to get it repaired, it just would not worth the money. Instead I just removed the screen from the body of the laptop and used the laptop as a HTPC connected to a TV.

Then the screen part was pretty much useless, I could have just trashed it, but I just kept it, just in case I could do something with it. Then I had this idea that I could turn it into something useful.

It turned out that it is very easy, and very useful if you're into drawing. It is a light board/table for drawing, it is very cheap and portable, you can easily carry on your backpack with your books.

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Step 1:

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Take the old laptop apart, and separate the screen completely off the body of the computer.

Step 2:

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Remove the LCD itself from the plastic housing, then start to pry open the metal bezel. There are some screws you need to remove and then some retaining clips.

Step 3:

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After removing the metal bezel, you can remove the broken LCD from the rest of the LCD assembly.

Step 4:

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The driver board will come off with the LCD.

You will be left with the backlight, try to not touch the layers.

The backlight is made of a lamp CCFL in this one or LED strip, reflective sheet, a guiding glass, some fresnel films, and diffuser films. They have a very specific order, orientation and side. Just keep then as is, or it will be very hard to get then in the correct way later.

gowens22 months ago

Hi, saw this month's ago and saved it so I could attempt when I had time, so now I've started and discovered that Toshiba is a little different than Acer. On the Toshiba unit I am using there are 6 pins (8 wires) in the inverter connector and all of the wires are blue(see photo) so no color coding, I have to figure out position, also the pinout labels are different for the IC on the inverter board.

This is probably simple for you but I'm bumfuzzled as to which wire connects where on your circuit.

Really want to get this done to digitize some 8x10 negatives from my fathers time in the Navy.

Thanks so much for your help!

Vitim (author)  gowens220 days ago

Check out Step 7, I wrote more on Reverse Engineering using the picture you sent.

Vitim (author)  gowens220 days ago

I'm really sorry to took so long to reply, but for some reason I'm not being notified about new comments. I found the datasheet of the IC, I just need to see the bottom side as well because there are vias poking through the board.

This is probably the pin out, but I can't guarantee without seeing the bottom layer and do another tests to make sure if it is correct.

If you could check the resistance with a multimeter that would make things more clear. Like check resistance between directly between pin 20 and the pins I marked as VCC should be a zero resistance path. Do the same for other pins. STBY should be similar to a ENABLE pin but the opposite. DIM is what you want to control the brightness, but this one I couldn't trace it fully because the via goes to the other side, but I suppose it is the remaining pin, the the two vias (?) are joint together on the other side.

Again, I'm sorry if this answer is too late, I hope you make it.

cyberraxx2 months ago
I made one of these using an old dead lcd tv with a cracked screen. Stripped out the busted insides, added a twin inverter (original was part of dead psu board) wired it all up to a 12v 2amp psu and jobs a good 'un.

Wired up a relay and 2 push buttons as i had no normal switches and its still running perfect.

Now for that dead laptop....
Wah Ha Ha ha........
devicemodder made it!2 months ago

made one with an old lcd monitor that i had no use for, just separated the lcd from the
backlight and left the powersupply in the monitor and rewired the ps on to a switch and the brightness to a pot to adjust the brightness of the ccfl in the monitor.

Ismegordo5 months ago
Great instructable, may I ask what voltage cap you used.
Thanks for the inspiration, I have mine all pulled apart and starting to re-assemble but would like to double check what you used.
Vitim (author)  Ismegordo3 months ago

Use at least a 25v or more on the input. on the output it can be just a 10v cap, or more.

profpat7 months ago

very nice and educational, i can use also larger panels from defective lcd monitor from destops!

stevegossett8 months ago

I would assume that you can also use plexiglass which can be bought, in my city anyways, at OSH or Home Depot. Excellent instructable man!

Vitim (author)  stevegossett8 months ago

I used regular glass because it is more durable and more hard to scratch, and don't get matte with paper and things sanding it, and was more accessible here. But you could use acrylic glass, I guess it would be lighter than glass.

tisaconundrum8 months ago

Absolutely beautiful!

Eh Lie Us!8 months ago

Man, this is one of the reasons I love this website.

Great idea!

Kadroh8 months ago
I had left a comment a few days ago. loved the instructable then and got my proof of concept done last night. Still have to add a pot, switch, and probably dc jack I was testing on a pc power supply in the video.

thanks a million for your instructable I would never thought of this and it's actually insanely useful for my girlfriend.

You sir are amazing!
bhermance8 months ago

that is so cool!

-A-N-D-Y-8 months ago

You shouldn't need the 5v reg, just use a couple of high value resistors as a potential divider as the voltage is only for signal level, you could even just use 1 on the other side of the potentiometer. VCC -- reistor (5v) -- potentiometer (0-5v) -- GND

Vitim (author)  -A-N-D-Y-8 months ago

Yeah, I tested it using a voltage divider, resistors are cheap. I had this 78l05 laying around, they are pretty cheap and very common, using a regulator, you could probably power it with a 12v supply instead of the traditional 19v without any modification. This makes it more versatile if you want to maybe battery power it or use a different power supply.

damaltor8 months ago

This is a great idea. I still have two old laptop computery lying around - Thanks!

Kadroh8 months ago
Just awesome plain and simple. Very creative, I will be using one of my old laptops sitting around and doing this. Thanks for the inspiration!

Great clear writeup as well!

this is awesome! This is definitely going to be one of my future projects :D thanks for sharing

agis688 months ago

Excellent idea,,,,brilliant solution.....+10000 respect

Purple Chez8 months ago

I recently turned an old computer scanner into a light table, but this has that beat, and then some. This looks awesome!!!

MoserLabs8 months ago

I have a (Here, give it to Moser cause I don't know how to put it back together) laptop in my electronics lab that I am debating making into a full on laptop drawing table. Thanks for the extra motivation to get started!

Gabse8 months ago
I made a Instructable over it a few month ago: LCD-Photolamp
wbontekoning8 months ago
doodlecraft8 months ago

What a great idea! I was seriously contemplating how to make one last night! thanks! :)