Home Raspberry Pi Desktop With Old Laptop Screen

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Re-use your, old laptop screen to build a cool desktop with Raspberry pi.

Preconditions : - The screen should not be damaged, just remove the screen from any unusable or dead laptop, disconnect the screen from the laptop motherboard by disconnecting the LVDS cable and the inverter board. Now connect the right LCD controller and you are ready with your super pi desktop !!

Step 1: Components List

1. An old laptop screen (screen should not be damaged)

2. LCD Controller board kit for laptop screen

3. Power supply adapter (according to LCD controller kit, usually 12 V, 4 amps)

4. Raspberry Pi (Other MCU can be used subject to availability of ports) along with Power supply cable

5. HDMI to VGA Cable :- Iworld make , works perferct with pi.

6. Wireles keyboard (Wired can also be used).

7. Wifi Dongle if Using Pi 2/B+ (Pi 3 has inbuilt wifi)

8. A suitable stand for holding the screen in place.

Step 2: Understanding the Basics of LCD

As outlined in step -II, LCD controller kit contains the controller board the inverter and the LVDS cable, so before we begin our installation of components, lets look into the working of LCD

LCD

An LCD (liquid crystal display) panel uses multiple components to create the image you see on the screen. The liquid crystals are arranged in a layer near the front of the screen. As the crystals rapidly change color, they create an image. This image would not be viewable, however, without a backlight. The backlight is located behind the crystal layer and shines through the crystals to provide enough light for the users to see the image.

INVERTER BOARD

The backlight of an LCD screen, requires AC power rather than the DC power provided by the laptop’s power supply. This is where the inverter comes in. The inverter converts the DC (direct current) that comes from the laptop’s power supply to the AC (alternating current) that is needed for the backlight of the LCD screen.

LVDS Cable

LVDS stands for Low-voltage differential signaling and is basically pair of twisted copper cables used for high speed communication, here we are using this cable to communicate between controller board and screen

Step 3: The LCD Controller Kit Selection Guidelines

LCD controller is different for different make of screen, in order to choose the right controller, look for the model no behind the screen. There are various controller board available on ebay, we need to just provide them with the right model number.

I have ordered one from ebay, you can refer to following link : -LCD Controller , the kit includes the LVDS cable, inverter and the control buttons too.)

You can also refer to other sources for LCD controller board selection like:-

www.amazon.com

www.lcdparts.net

Step 4: The LCD Controller & the Inverter Board

As in the above image normally all LCD controllers are connected as:-

  • Connect Inverter Board to LCD controllers (connection cables are supplied along with) (Caution :- do not remove the top plastic covering on the inverter board)
  • Connect Keypad Board to LCD Controller.

Now LCD controller board is ready and we need to just connect it to Laptop screen, via the LVDS cable at top, while the bottom end should go to inverter board for power supply.

Step 5: The Screen Holder

There are various types of stand available online , moreover one can design one's own to give that more perfect look for the desktop.

To save time and things look simple, i have used a simple foldable stand. The same works fine for holding my 15.6 inch laptop screen.

Step 6: Connecting the LCD Controller to Screen

  • The first step is to remove old LVDS and old inverter along with wires from the laptop screen
  • Than connect the LVDS Cable from the controller to the laptop screen (the connection is easy and is push fit type normally)
  • Than connect the inverter cable from the screen to the inverter board (normally there are two wires red and white)
  • To minimize the backlight reflection from behind the screen, paste black chart paper as shown on the screen.
  • To mount the LCD Controller on back, i have used thermocoal with suitable cutting.(Any other suitable method can be used to give more robust look)

Step 7: The Final Desktop

Once the LCD controller board is assembled and connected to screen, its time to connect the Raspberry pi

  • Normally the LCD controller board output is VGA (some controller also have HDMI output). So to interface raspberry pi with the controller board , we need VGA to HDMI cable.
  • The VGA to HDMI cable is easily available online and works straight with the pi i.e no extra coding is required.(Caution :- some VGA to HDMI may not work with pi, i have used the one manufactured by "iworld")
  • We can used wired or wireless keyboard. ( I prefer wireless keybaord from logitech K400 Plus, its just plug and play feature, which makes it more convenient to use.)
  • Connect power supply to LCD controller (In my case it is 12 V, 5 Amps power adapter)
  • Connect power supply to Raspberry pi

Raspberry pi is now ready to be used as full desktop, just load latest Raspbian OS and have your own configurable desktop.

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    20 Discussions

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    HerrS

    Question 2 months ago on Step 5

    Hi,

    how can we find this laptop stand? Useful tutorial!

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    LisaC111

    3 months ago

    Thank you so much for this writeup! I have a question about putting it all together.
    The inverter has a lot of power going through it and is dangerous to touch when on, right? What materials can safely be used to attach the controller, inverter, etc. to the back of the screen? Apologies for the noob question.

    2 replies
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    Ashu_dLisaC111

    Reply 3 months ago

    Well in my case, i did a careful drill to back of screen , wherein i screwed the inverter and controller, but make sure not to damage the LCD screen, the drill can be just to have two or greater threads and is suficeint enough to hold the inverter

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    LisaC111Ashu_d

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks for replying! :) So, I guess basically it's best to screw in the components without them touching too many surfaces.

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    olsonbri

    11 months ago

    Great job with the details. 2 questions: What specs are required for the inverter? There are many LCD inverters on ebay, just pick one? Also, How many cables plug into the inverter? Does the inverter white cable pictured carry the input DC and output AC in the same cable? The reason I ask, my LCD I pulled from my laptop only has one single input, and that is the LVDS cable. I'm assuming the AC power goes back to the LCD thru the controller board? Thanks much --Bri

    1 reply
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    Ashu_dolsonbri

    Reply 9 months ago

    Hi , didn't see ur comments, hope the issue is resolved

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    msameer39

    1 year ago

    Great project bro

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    benh270

    1 year ago

    okay i have my lcd screen under my eye but i can't fid what is the reference.

    can you help me ?

    thanks by advance.

    IMG_20150103_053757.jpg
    2 replies
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    Ashu_dbenh270

    Reply 1 year ago

    Well, from the pics attached, it seem IBM panel, you can look for part no i.e P/N ,for your model it is 03L5060

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    benh270Ashu_d

    Reply 1 year ago

    Okay thanks but on the njytouch store there isn't any converter for this screen. I'm gonna search for an other screen. But thanks Ashu_d

    ps: you can find cheap lcd screen on old laptop or broken laptop. With the borken laptop you can make a Pitop with was my original plan

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    GarthBock

    2 years ago

    Nice 'ible. There are others like this on here.

    I went the quick and dirty way. I went to my local pawn shop and got a cheap monitor. I bought a 19" monitor for $30. I made sure it had a DVI in video connector. I bought a DVI-HDMI cable and connected it all up. My next plan is to tap power in the monitor for the PI so I have only one power cord for both and then gut the monitor and build a cabinet that holds both.

    2 replies
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    Ashu_dGarthBock

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thats great :) and yes a step down dc-dc converter could serve your purpose for single power source.

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    TörjékiZAshu_d

    Reply 1 year ago

    How would you do this? Also what voltage should be used?

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    docman100

    1 year ago

    witch model of raspberry pi did you use and does raspberry pi 2 or 3 work?

    2 replies
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    Ashu_ddocman100

    Reply 1 year ago

    I have connected both PI 2 and B+

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    Thanh TuN

    2 years ago

    The main problem here is that the LCD controller is around 30/50$.

    For 100$ you can have a proper 23" inch screen :(

    1 reply
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    Ashu_dThanh TuN

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yes, i agree with you, but to keep cost down you can locate one from ebay, i got my one for only 12$ for 15.6 inch screen , further to keep cost down for controller board choose the one with only required ports, i.e many controllers boards are available with VGA, HDMI, DVI etc ports, but for connecting raspberry pi, only VGA port is sufficient.

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    Uncle Kudzu

    2 years ago

    Very cool bit of recycling/re-purposing! I'd like to try Raspberry pi, and I do have an old laptop...

    1 reply