Introduction: External Monitor From Broken Laptop

Hello everyone! So this is something going on since a long time but it's finally finished!

I had a not so old not working HP Pavillion laptop lying around that I couldn't throw away. I opened it up and assemble again a couple of time, and as I saw on internet the problem was common and it was the graphic card that had loose connectors. Not worth to me to repair, but plenty of elements were still good to reuse:

- HD: just a simple case and you end up with a backup external Hard Drive (check Amazon for nice cases, and USB 3 is a must for speed transfer). I picked this for a more permanent use and I ended up with two 250GB external disks.

- Cool spare parts (some cyber art?)

- Screen: quite nice after all and all working. -> object of this Instructable so let's begin....

All of this was inspired by DIYPerks. So thanks to him (and all the other similar projects already on the web) for the great idea!

Hope my version can inspire even more crazy ideas!


I'll explain more in detail after, but

  • Old laptop with working screen
  • Screwdrivers
  • Control board and cables (more on)
  • MDF


  • Lasercut machine
  • 3D printer

Step 1: Laptop Disassembly

First of all, get a working screen somewhere (this project is made for recycling stuff)!!

To do that I had to disassemble the laptop (thing that I like a lot to do ahah) and as you can see in the pictures (and in the DIYPerks video) is a straightforward procedure. Every laptop is different so this is just to see as reference to better approach your situation.

So, search all the screw and carefully take all apart, having good care of the cables!

Step 2: Extra: Laptop Porn

This is just some picture for you to enjoy, if you lure into internal components...

Step 3: Material Gathering

This is totally not a difficult project, and I'll share my take on this reuse and the reasons I did what I did.

Big important step (the one that took ages to me, so get prepare and I hope I'll save you some time) get all the necessary:

-Control Board: eBay here comes at help. On the screen now in your possession look for the serial code and paste it on the search bar on eBay. Add "lcd monitor controller board hdmi" just to have all the possibile connections.

-Charger: 12V charger as indicated in the board specification, if different search for what's needed. I went for a quite short cable... I would consider a longer one for flexibility. Feel free to follow the video suggestion and mod your laptop charger to power both laptop and monitor (Will maybe do in the future....).
-HDMI cable: I went for Amazon basic material here. You can pick whatever cable your laptop can be connected to (I already have a VGA screen, so for the three monitor set up I must use also HDMI)

-MDF boards: I went for the 4mm as it's quite sturdy for me. Feel free to use any support you have or prefer. MDF is also really easily workable, take this in consideration.

-Computer screws: OMG I lost so much time, just buy them on amazon (here what I took after searching dozens of computer/chinese/professional shops, and they work perfectly). If you know for sure where to find them, good for you. Otherwise, Amazon (or internet in general).


-Lasercutter: I would not recommend you to buy it for this project only, but it's very versatile. Just search a fablab nearby your house.

-3D Printer: same as above. With 3D printing DIY just goes a step further.

Step 4: Layout and Preparation

Now is time for a little bit of layout design. Place the components how you think they are gonna fit best considering cables length, position of ports and so on.

In my case, having access to a lasercutter, I quickly draw my panel configuration on a CAD software in order to easily cut the board. I anyway forgot a couple of holes and had to use the drill with 3mm diameter. That is super easy to use on MDF. Lasercut was maybe nice because i got a clean and burned shape cut and hole for the cable, but is totally non necessary for the screws holes.

With this system I made the main panel and the cover panel. I used the circuit board holes as reference to drill/lasercut the holes on the MDF board.

If you have access to a lasercut you can get fancy and have it engraved or cut in cool shape and design.

I then decided how to screw the boards to the panels. I wanted flush surfaces, so I always used a screw on the exterior part and countersunk the screw hole with a bigger drill point easily by hand (this is better especially on the screen face, in order to not damage the back of the screen with the screws. Do this it by hand and you'll have more control over the drill (that will maybe go all the way through without noticing). Choosing less than 4mm as thikness of the board will save you thickness but give you less room to play.

The main board decided the total thickness, I used the set-up showed in the image with :

  • screw + 6mm F/M + 15mm F/F + screw.

Button panel was a simple

  • screw + 6mm F/F + screw

Power board is set up as

  • screw + 10mm F/M + 10mm F/F + screw.

That is because on the board, the chip saying "DANGER" get you electrified when in use if you touch it, so I wanted to have it closer to the MDF board to make it more difficult to touch by chance.

EXTRA: screen corners

Differently from the DIY video, I designed a reversible fixing (all my project is completely reversible and updatable and modifiable) modelling a corner clip to fit both screen and MDF panel. The fit is quite tight so I don't need to use the screw as I designed (I even drilled the holes in the MDF to have screw and bolt placed) I they become loose I will do that. For now is really just forcing them in the corners and everything fitss perfectly together.

Step 5: Mounting

So it's time for assembly!

  • Start with the board support on the MDF board and place all the stand-off necessary
  • Mount the screen with the 3D printed corners.
  • Place all the boards and screw in the stand-off.
  • Plug in all the cables necessary. I made everything compact letting the main cable pass under the main board in order to secure it (no glue please).
  • Place the MDF cover panel and screw it in place.


Step 6: Modeling and 3D Printing

Now my second screen needs a way to stand still.

My old laptop hinges were not suitable for the purpose, so having a 3D printer available I decided to have fun and design a fancy stand where I could fix my screen on and adapt as needed.

To achieve stability and confort, this is the design I came up with. I used Fusion 360 for this modeling as an exercise to better master the software.

In line with the concept, the screen is just clamped on the stand and stays on without glue so it can be dismantled when not used for easy storing.

Step 7: Final Result

And finally, here it is my Frankenstein version of the reuse of a working laptop screen (bit of steampunk design).


Edit: the screen is lost (bike accident) but I'll try to reuse all the other components that survived in order to take advantage of another screen when I find one ;)

Thanks to the modular design!!

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