Turn a dead laptop into a monitor with Plexiglas stand

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Picture of Turn a dead laptop into a monitor with Plexiglas stand

Hi, this is an 'ible on how to turn the LCD panel from a friends fried laptop (cheers Martin :P ) into an external monitor for your home console, blueray-player or just as a second monitor.

First things first, this is my first Instructable and the first time I used a rotary tool and Plexiglas! So please bear with me :)

Also, I didn't really intended to write this 'ible, but my mates pushed me into doing it, that's why I don't really have many pictures from the process! I'll try to explain everything clearly, but if anything is unclear, feel free to comment :)

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Step 1: What you'll need

Picture of What you'll need

A functional LCD panel (get it from a dead laptop or buy one off Ebay etc.)
2mm A3 Plexiglas ( I got mine off Ebay, 2mm might be a little bit flimsy, but should do the trick)

5mm A4 Plexiglas (again, Ebay. 5mm for a sturdy base)

A controller board (Must be the right one for your panel!! To know what panel you have, you must take the casing around your screen apart and look at the back of the panel, it should be written somewhere. I've got mine off Ebay, I used e-qstore (came within a week!!) or njytouch. Email them the number of your panel before buying it)

Nuts, bolts and washers (depending on what size the holes on the frame of your panel are, I used 8 3mm bolts for the frame and button-board and 14 4mm bolts for the brackets and for fixing the controller board and inverter on the base.)

2 metal brackets (2 basic corner brackets to attach the base and the front sheet)

An adjustable wrench or small spanners

A slotted screwdriver

Fine sandpaper

A glass cutter ( to score Plexiglas, if you want to cut it, a carpenters knife will do the trick)


A hacksaw (I needed to cut off two metal hinges, see picture for reference)

A rotary tool (I thought I'd have to cut a lot more than I actually did, still needed it to drill the holes though)

Self-adhesive pads as feet (stops the base from getting scratched, a quid on Ebay)

Step 2: The preparation

Picture of The preparation

If you didn't already, get the LCD panel off of your dead Laptop, you will find loads of tutorials on how to take apart your laptop on Youtube/Google. Also, if your mainboard is broken, take out your HDD, CPU, disc-drive and everything that you can reuse! Your Laptop might have a webcam, that you can take off and sell, or solder to a usb-cable! (I failed at that...)

Choose the size of your Plexiglas sheet depending on the size of your panel, I used a 17" LCD, so I choose an A3 sized sheet, that fit perfectly, without me needing to cut anything to size.

If the edges of your sheet feel kind of rough, use the fine sandpaper to smoothen things out. Also, don't take off the protective cover of any of your sheets, right before the end. (I know, best feeling in the world, but not worth risking scratches on it ;) )

Step 3: Time to bend the brackets

Picture of Time to bend the brackets

Take your two brackets and bend them a tiny little bit back, so that your endproduct will be a bit bend and won't look too straight and/or fall forward.

Take your time bending the brackets, don't overbend it and try to bend them at the same angle! I don't really have the right tools to bend stuff here, so I just used my manliness and it worked wonders!

Also, If you have hinges on your frame, that stick out, use the mighty hacksaw and cut them off! Be careful not to damage your screen though!

Step 4: Positioning stuff on the sheets, to find out where to drill!

Picture of Positioning stuff on the sheets, to find out where to drill!

The next step is to position your LCD on the A3 sheet of Plexiglas to determine where the holes are going to be. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of that step, because I didn't intended to put the project online! Soz guys!

But what you want to do is quite self-explanatory! Once you positioned your panel on the Plexiglas, take pen, or pencil, depending what works best, and mark the outlines of your panel on the cover from the sheet. To make sure that you can see the points where you want to drill through later, use your drill bit and press through the holes of the LCD's frame to make it more visible later.

Now go ahead and drill the holes that you just marked. Make sure that you don't use too much pressure or a too high setting on your rotary tool/drill, because the acrylic might melt or even break. I used a scrap sheet of MDF under the Plexiglas to stop me from drilling into my table!

Step 5: Drill away!

Picture of Drill away!

Once you've drilled the holes for the brackets, go ahead and put the Bolt and nut in. After that, take your sheet of 5mm A4 Plexiglas and position it so you know where you'll need the holes to be. I made the mistake to cut my sheet in half, because I wanted a different design, but changed my mind. Oh well.

After drilling all the holes, make sure that the front Plexiglas and the base connect properly and seem sturdy enough. If everything feels good, repeat the steps for the holes in the base for the controller board/inverter. Make sure you try it out first before drilling, you don't want to have the controllerboard to far away, so that the cable won't be long enough!

I wanted the buttons to be in the middle of the screen, so I had to come up with and idea on how to feed the cable from the controllerboard through the front sheet to the button-panel. I simply cut off a bit of the base in the middle. If you do that, use the cut-off-disc and the middle setting of your rotary tool, so your plastic won't be too hot and melt. Sand down the edges for a smooth feeling.

Step 6: Time to put everything together

Picture of Time to put everything together

After you've made all your holes and are sure that everything fits together perfectly, you may put all the screws and bolts together, don't rush and take off the cover from the sheets, just in case something isn't quite right yet.

If everything worked according to plan, you can take off the covers from the front panel and put it on top of some cushions, like in the picture, to stop it from getting scratched.

Leave the cover on the bottom of the base on, to protect it, we're not quite finished yet.

Step 7: Almost done!

Picture of Almost done!

Make sure that your LCD screen is clean and doesn't show any stripes or dirt. It will be hard to reach after you finally put on those screws and bolts!

The best thing to use to wipe the LCD panel is an old t-shirt or something similar. I used a sock, that I just bought and hadn't used yet. Perfect result.

Once your Panel is clean, you can go ahead and screw everything together, using your wrench/spanner and your screwdriver. Be aware: take your time, those small nuts are quite fiddly and you don't want to mess up your nice screen just before the end! If you can, get a mate to help you or force your girlfriend! (Just kidding, you should never force your SO to anything, folks! :) )

Step 8: Finishing touch

Picture of Finishing touch

After you've screwed that last bit in, go ahead and put the whole thing on it's front (Use the cushions from before to protect it!) and finally tear off that last bit of cover from the bottom of the base. If you screwed in the controller board on the top, take the cover off slowly, so you get everything off, even under the screws.

Now get your chair-pads and stick them on the corners , so you'll get a nice gap between the Plexiglas and the table, preventing it from getting scratched!

Step 9: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

You should now be finally finished! Depending on what controllerboard you bought off ebay, you can plug in your Playstation, Laptop or whatever comes to mind ! Congratulations!

I hope you enjoyed this instructable and that everything was clear! If not, please feel free to ask in the comment section below! Also, I've entered in the Makerlympics Contest and would love for you to vote :)


Step 10: Little edit:

Picture of Little edit:
Unfortunately, I wasn't quite clear on how to connect the controller board to the panel, so I'm a sorry for that!

It's probably easier to show you how to connect everything with the help of the pictures, I'll try to number each input on picture one with the part it belongs to on picture 2 and 3!

Thanks to Orkekum, for pointing out that I wasn't clear enough! Please feel free to comment if you have any more questions :)

Step 11: Added a video and some pictures of the monitor in combination of my PS3

Picture of Added a video and some pictures of the monitor in combination of my PS3

That's how it looks like when you connect your PPlaystation with the monitor via the HDMI input :)
BTW: The piture just seems very bright because of the bad lighting in my room and the quality of my phone!

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BrandonW11 month ago

I was able to get the control board and the screen to work but for some reason the picture is very dim. Do you have any idea what the issue could be?

Wee ChingC2 months ago

I love this project but TOO EXPENSIVE !
I just checked on ebay. The controller kit $38 and the DC adapter $8. Total $46
Convert to my country curreny RM165
And a VGA 18.5 LCD monitor is selling RM250 in my country.
: (

Hi can I use this screen

b3ndro made it!3 months ago

Mine is a little different because I ended up mounting the monitor in my workshop but here is a picture!

ecorstin6 months ago
Awesome post! But I'm confused on how you put in a hdmi input :) can you explain please :)

I have a sony all in one desktop that doesn't boot up. Do you know how I make that into a monitor?

vipul_patel9 months ago

Hi I have a LCD TV whose power unit is dead ,i would like to know if i could get one of these LCD Panel controllers for it

Wouldn't just be easier and cheaper to replace the blown caps in the power unit. (bad caps or capacitors are the source for most monitor failures). I fixed mine for $7 worth of replacement caps.

I forgot to say, Great Instructable !

dmahaffy10 months ago
My question is I know it depends on the controller but how do you power it or does it run off the component you hook it to. Also do they come with speakers usually or is that situational?
Damutsch (author)  dmahaffy10 months ago

The controller board runs off a 4A 12 Volt adapter which is simply connected to the mains, I haven't come across a board, that was powered otherwise. The boards don't come with speakers itself, but they usually have a 3.5 mm jack for headphones or passive speakers!

dmahaffy dmahaffy10 months ago
Speaker hook up*
bigz3311 months ago

Thanks for the great instructable! I made an external monitor (non-HD), but the screen is very dim. How can I increase the brightness? I've tried using the monitor's menu, but to no avail...any ideas?

Damutsch (author)  bigz3311 months ago

What controller board did you use? What do you mean it is not available? Normally, you should be able to set the brightness and other options in the settings! I can't think of another way to do it i'm afraid!

I am going to build this with six monitors and six drivers to make a near to edge to edge display that will be wallmounted do you have any advice on how to make it?

Also forgot to say GREAT instructable!

Damutsch (author)  thedesmodes1 year ago

That sounds awesome! I wouldn't use plexiglass though, since being a single pease big enough to mount all those LCD would be really expensive and probably flimsy with all that weight! I'd get a big piese of MDF and put the LCDs infront of it. Another thought is how are you going to hook them up to your computer? I'm not sure a "normal" computer (or graphics card) can support that many monitors! You might have to use more than one or two or maybe there's another gadget I don't know about that is able to split it into that many signals!

Also, you might wanna ask the sellers on ebay, if they can offer you a discount, if you buy that many boards!

Good luck and please share some pictures!

There are USB video "Cards" if you get a USB hub and get lets say SIX of these USB video cards it would work great. They dont use your graphpic card.

how is this powered?

Damutsch (author)  computergeek77991 year ago

It uses a standard 4A power adapter that you can get everywhere for a couple of bucks!

nerd74731 year ago
I am building a raspberry pi laptop and I need some info on how to convert my screen I have. I have a acer aspire 4720z screen and disk drive I believe the screen still works. I also think the only thing wrong with the laptop was the charging circuit. I really would appreciate a private message on how to make this work for a screen of this type. also would like to know if there are adapters for the optical drive to usb. thanks in advance
Damutsch (author)  nerd74731 year ago

Hi, I messaged you! Also, please share your project once you've finished :)

Good luck!


dmassote1 year ago

Congratulations. I didn't know about these boards. As soon as possible I am going to assemble a monitor with all connects: hdmi, vga and av. When done, I will post on instructables. Nice job!

Damutsch (author)  dmassote1 year ago

Thank you very much! I'm looking forward to your result!

donpujitha1 year ago

is there a way of fixing a dead lap screen to a crt monitor.cos i have bothof them, which is worthless repairing.or is there anything i can use them for?

you should see if its just the backlight; (shine a flashlight against the screen when its powered off). If so, the inverter is probably blown (common issue). you then have two choices for the LCD 1) replace the inverter module (cheap, can be a pain depending on laptop model) or 2) pull the lcd panel out for a DIY projector build (this latter is far more complex but the results can be AWESOME)

Damutsch (author)  donpujitha1 year ago

I'm sorry, but I can't think of anything useful to do with a dead LCD.. You could however turn the dead crt into something like a fishbowl and other stuff! I'm sure with got projects here on Instructables about that! Good luck!

TSJWang made it!1 year ago

Very nice!

Here are some images. I never had a second monitor, but ever since I followed this instructables I finished homework a lot more efficiently!

$35 for HDMI is not bad...

For some reason the screen flickers a bit, disconnecting and reconnecting itself. Anything I should be worried about?

Damutsch (author)  TSJWang1 year ago

Very nice! Yeah, I use it to work as I need the insturctions on one screen and my programm on the other! Sorry to hear about the flickering though, are you sure the screen was fully working before? Maybe the connection from the panel to the controller board is a bit loose! If all fails, try to contact the seller, maybe he can do something about it or give you a refund? Hope I could help and thanks for sharing :)

Ok, stupid question but...a screen from an old laptop + controller with HDMI input...would something like a PS3 be tricked into thinking that was HD enough for it?

(someone gave me a mostly dead PS3, so need a screen for it!)

Damutsch (author)  King of Derby1 year ago

There are no stupid questions! Yes, you can use the HDMI input from the controller board to use it with your ps3! Whether you screen is hd ready or even fullhd depends on the screen itself! I doubt mine is HD and it works flawless!

I'll put a video up soon!

Damutsch (author)  Damutsch1 year ago

I've uploaded a quick video of the monitor and playstation in action!

SysGhost1 year ago

Interesting project.
Planned this with several dead laptops I have lying around.
But I never got myself to make it. Simply because it's waaaayyy too expensive.
The LCD controller one needs to buy costs more than a brand new monitor.
It's simply not worth it.

Damutsch (author)  SysGhost1 year ago

Thank you! It's not to expensive if you already have a good LCD! The board itself costs about £15 to £25, depending on your Panel. So let's say your top notch Laptop with a 17.3 " full HD screen fried, you could reuse this screen for around 20 quid!
I agree that it doesn't really make sense to buy a replacement screen and the controller board just for the hell of it! But some of us simply enjoy doing stuff or reusing working parts :)

That's a great price. Almost too good to be true.
Last time I checked up the price those controllers, it was over $400 each.

As I said earlier, I got plenty of broken laptops lying around. Most of them with perfectly working screens. High resolution, large area, fast pixel response time and so on.

Damutsch (author)  SysGhost1 year ago

Oh god no! I'm not that crazy :P I used this item, which worked fine and even has an HDMI input! You're right, many laptop screens are much better than smaller tvs! Hope I could help!

shahrie1 year ago
ive been searching a while about this. i have a broken laptop but im sure lcd is fine. thanks to damutsch, now i know the answer is the lcd controller. thats the main parts. and my problem now is getting the controller.
Damutsch (author)  shahrie1 year ago

I'm glad I could help! as mentioned above, the sellers I can recommend are e-qstore and NYJtouch but I'm sure you can find more on ebay!

cliffyd1 year ago

this looks like its an external monitor with the casing taken off.

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