You can get large computer LCD monitors now for relatively cheap, especially second hand ones. You can start to see a decent Samsung 24" HD monitor sell on the second hand market for about $50 AUD (~$35USD), and that's exactly what lead me to this Instructable. Looking on eBay I spotted 3 Samsung S24D300BL monitors for $50 each. The Samsung S24D300BL is by no means the absolute latest Super HD 4K gaming monitor with Back-To-The-Future response times, but moreso an office orientated monitor with modest specs such as 1080i, VGA and DVI (No HDMI). Although it has its colour to colour response time of 5ms, for what it is, it's actually a hidden gem in my opinion for panel colour, quality and sharpness, 23.6" of widescreen fun for $50 each is great!
I am running a custom computer build i7 3770K superclocked with 16gb, 500GB SSD and a GTX780. The GTX780 has 4 output ports; HDMI, DisplayPort and 2 x DVI, and can simultaneously run 4 LCDs! What fun I thought. The problem then was - How would I arrange the monitors on my desk? I purchased 2 x dual desk monitor arms from KOGAN (www.kogan.com.au) for $46AUD each, good quality and an absolute steal at that price. You can also use name branded ones like Bractek or Spacedec ($$$) because the VESA mount that we will be making is a universal one:
Just a quick intro on VESA standardisation. >> VESA is the standard monitor mount system and usually works in 3 main calibrations/measurements. Monitors that are VESA compatible allow you to remove the base stand, and then screw a VESA mount to the back and run the monitor from an arm. You quite commonly see this at banks, shops and Universities as VESA mounting makes more space on the table, and allows you to more easily adjust the height and position of the monitor. VESA compatible monitors are also assembled differently, quite often completely shielded in metal to support its own weight from the screws.
I have seen a few DIY attempts of self-VESA mounting using PVC, Wood, Glue.... duct tape - you name it. I'm going to show you how to have them professionally mounted to the effect that to the naked eye it would have appeared that you spent the extra few hundred on VESA compatible monitors.
$20 of local hardware supplies, common house tools and a good DIY attitude will have almost any non VESA monitor mounted professionally on desk arms!
Step 1: Tools, Materials and Monitors
The tools you'll need are:
Hacksaw (or other means of cutting metal such as angle grinder, metal bansaw or even a Dremel)
Drill with drill piece 3/4/5mm (depending on which bolts you decide to use)
Vice or clamp (for the cutting)
General purpose glue
.......Woah, wait a second. Glue and tape? Isn't that what he said he found tacky and wants to avoid with his 'professional and cheap VESA mount?'
Chill (without netflix), because the tape is acting as an insulator and you wont ever see it again, and the glue is just to hold something still to make your life easier, again you wont see it in the finished product.
DIY bracket sheet 100mmx600mm from your local hardware store (also known as metal lattice, sheet metal grid and custom bracket sheeting - or alternatively sheet steel and drill your own holes). $10
Nut and bolt kits - these were found at local K-mart (Australian Walmart version), for $2.50 for a pack of assorted nuts and bolts. I bought 3 of them to get 16 or so of the desired bolts. Keep the spares as these can be handy for other DIY and repair jobs around the house. $2.5 x 3 = $7.50
For this example, I am using 3 x Samsung S24D300BL monitors. This will work with other D series monitors and principally with any other monitor.
VESA compatible monitor stands:
Assuming you have this, as it's probably why you're here. If you're not, then please see my other DIYs (coming soon) from self contained steering wheel horn to electric jet skateboard!
Step 2: Monitor Disassembly
This is quite possibly the hardest part, if you can do this then you've got nothing to worry about.
What we want to do, is take apart the monitor, slide in a mock-VESA plate then put it back together again as if you never took it apart in the first place. This part does require a bit of common sense, clearly.
Removing the bezel from the monitor - on the Samsung S24D300BL is actually quite simple.
1) Making sure that all cables are unplugged and put aside, firstly remove the base. S24D300BL bases are removed by simply pulling them out. Others may be clipped in or require screws.
2) The S24D300BL actually only has one screw holding the monitor together. The rest is done by an elaborate, worrying yet surprisingly sturdy network of plastic clips, which we need to disengage next.
Note - it's worth YouTube'ing your monitor model and 'disassembly' as there appears to be heaps of videos for various brands already made'.
3) Next we need to use something sharp, like a screwdriver or sharp plastic object to pry the monitor bezel apart at the join. Careful if using a screw driver not to damage the soft plastic. You will hear clips 'pop', and that's what you want to hear.
Once you can get your fingers in the bezel, use them to remove the rest of the monitor bezel, however be careful around the buttons part of the monitor as there might be a control cable that needs disconnecting, such as the S24D300BL's front sensitive touch buttons
4) The back should now just lift off. That was the hard part.
5) VERY carefully and only handling the panel by the sides, remove it and put it somewhere safe such as panel faced down on a bed. Now we have the empty monitor shell. The next step is to make the VESA bracket.
Step 3: Making the VESA Bracket
1) The the lattice / custom bracket I purchased from Bunnings Warehouse conveniently lines up with 2 holes of my VESA plate on the monitor stand. There is three sets of VESA templates but I have selected the middle one because 2 holes already line up. Put two nuts and bolts into these, then using the permanent marker, mark where the other two holes need to be made. Also mark where you need to cut the plate so you are left with the square plate only
2) Drill the holes and cut the bracket as required, be sure to blow off any metal shavings as you certainly don't want these near the monitor electrics.
Step 4: Fitting Your VESA Bracket
You want your bracket to fit plush against the rear of the monitor plastic cover, as the screws will clamp your new bracket, sandwiching the back of the monitor to the VESA stand - similar to how real VESA mounts work.
1) As you want a tight fit, remove any protruding plastics to ensure that plate sits flat against the back of the monitor. If it is lose you will hit problems later down the track. I used pliers to pull away at these standoffs.
2) Using the glue, which you don't have to use but makes things easier, glue the bracket to the inside of the back cover positioning it level and central.
3) Once the glue dries, drill holes through the plastic that line up with the drilled holes in your DIY VESA plate and temporarily secure them with the bolts in, so that they are facing away from you exactly like in this picture
4) Tape insulation (not pictured), use duct tape to completely cover the plate, it will also cover the screws. Ensure that no pieces of metal are visible or touchable. This is going to temporarily hold the screws in so they can't fall out and also insulate the metal bracket so it can't interfere with any monitor electronics
Step 5: Putting the LCD Back Together and Attaching It to the VESA Arms
1) Gently place the LCD panel back into the front plastic bezel of the monitor, carefully connecting the front power/mode selection cable.
2) It doesn't matter which you do first; put the LCD back together first then attach it to the arm, or attach it to the arm then clip the backing back onto the LCD. I have chosen the latter: Attach the back of the LCD (which is still separated) to the VESA arm, by simply putting the vesa arm bracket through the screws that should be poking out the back, then tightening with the correct size nuts:
3) Place the plastic backing over the LCD that's face down, and now make sure it is directly over the LCD and slowly apply gentle pressure, to pop the cover back on. You will hear similar popping sounds as to when you took it off.
4) Screw the single screw back in, mount the LCD arms onto the desk supports, and hey presto. You've duplicated what some silly people pay thousands for