Introduction: How to Turn Your Computer's LCD Screen Transparent (DIY Mod)

If you have a standard LCD type monitor, I will show you a cool little DIY hack to turn that baby transparent!

A few tools are required, if you are a hard-core IT geek you probably have them, if you are a regular joe like me you just need to track down a hard-core IT geek.

Recommended equipment:

1) Non-parsing decrunculation chamber ($28)
2) Anti-aliasing RAM extractor ($38)
3) LCD RAM zapper with DVI to coax connector on the female end ($4288 with connector, $3942 w/o)
4) Annoy-a-tron from ($10)
5) Roll of duct tape and a cotton swab ($3, $.005)

If you have a hard time finding this stuff on the internet, as an alternative you can also use:

1) a digital camera
2) a simple image editing program

Step 1: Prepare the Scene/set Dressing

Basically all you do is change the desktop picture on your computer screen to match what is behind it. It sounds simple, and in theory it is, but in practice it is actually a little bit tricky. But fear not, brave grasshopper, I have taken time away from my family to create this butt-kickin' instructable to share some pointers with you, with absolutely no hope of getting anything back in return! (Well, a pimped out laser cutter would be nice :-))

The first step is to place some objects around your display screen so they are partly obscured by it. This will help to sell the illusion.

The next thing you have to do is choose where in your room you want the monitor to appear transparent from. In other words, which one vantage point in space do you want the illusion to hold up? Do you want it to be right in front of the computer, so anyone using it gets to enjoy your hard work? Do you want it to be at eye-level if someone peeks over the cubicle partition to see what you are working on? Do you want it to be from the eye level of your 6 year-old so if he stands in the doorway he "gets it?"

For this instructable, I chose a nice "standard working distance" away from my computer so I could enjoy the view myself.

When you know which vantage point you are going to target, "dress the set" with the items you have gathered to sell your illusion.

Step 2: Principal Photography

Remove your display, being careful not to disturb other items in the background.

Take many photographs from your chosen vantage point (or slightly back from). Do not use flash, and take many many pictures with different settings. I like to go into manual mode and use different f-stops on my PowerShot and different exposure lengths. Bracketing, to use a photographic term, is a good idea.

Also, don't take a picture of just the area the screen occupied. Use a very hi-res setting on a digital camera and take larger pictures that you can crop down.

The pictures below show the differences that different exposure settings can have on your picture.

Step 3: Put Your Monitor Back

Do you really need a picture?

Step 4: Tweak, Test, Crop and Repeat

Here is where the work comes in.

Pull up your pictures in your image editor (iPhoto is great for this) and look at them one at a time and see which ones are closest to how it should look.

Make adjustments to brightness, contrast, exposure, temperature, and saturation. When you finally get the colors and appearances correct, go to your desktop picture control panel and use the best picture.

Now comes the cropping cycle.

You want all of your lines to "line up" when viewed from your chosen point in space. So crop it down, set it as your desktop picture, and if things don't line up then either move the objects themselves, or crop your picture more, or a combination of both.

Hint: crop in baby steps. Once you over-crop, you have to start all over again with the original images, or choose a new vantage point in space that works better.

If something looks "too skinny" on your monitor compared to the background object, you need to crop the sides. If something looks "too short" on your display compared to the background object, you need to crop the top and bottom.

Step 5: Bask in Transparent LCD Glory

Congratulations! You did it, now take some pics of the end results from your chosen vantage point and when you do email them as attachments to my auto-posting public blog at: If you want to see my public blog can be seen here

Also, I just was given this link by a friend, here is a flickr pool of pictures of other people's transparent screens:

Thanks for reading my instructable and be sure to watch my YouTube video I made of this illusion!

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