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Hey, let's invent this immediately!!! Answered

OK folks, how hard can this possibly be?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Probably REALLY hard. But if we all team up and combine our gray matter, can't we overcome any technological obstacle with our collective geekiness?

I want to see an affordable, open-source doodad that can turn an LCD from a dead laptop into a working external flatscreen monitor. It should accept digital & analog signals and allow us all to hack up beautiful screens ready to embed in our brilliant projects, while keeping LCD's out of the landfill.

punish3r valiantly went down this road: https://www.instructables.com/id/Laptop-Converted-to-2nd-Monitor/
but then ended up "cheating" (his words, not mine) by using software that does most of the work (plus he started with a functional laptop!). Discussions I've read usually end with "you'd have to buy a controller for that specific LCD, which would cost almost as much as a regular flatscreen so what's the point?"

I reject this (resting on my laurels of ignorance)! If a controller truly exists for every LCD on earth, don't they share lots of common features? And if so, can't we come up with a generic one that could be programmed or dip-switched or soldered or otherwise persuaded to play nice with any LCD on the playground? Even the weird one by the monkey bars who smells like cheese? (Sorry; stretched my metaphor too far and it broke)

I envision a circuit board with PC or even TV "in," an amazingly versatile multi-pin adaptor or cable that would replace or connect to that flimsy little ribbon cable sprouting from the LCD. The board would have a USB plug for programming, and a chip smart enough to remember what you tell it. Some smart person will write a nifty app that talks to the board, and vast legions of techies across the globe (or rogue employees of the LCD manufacturers, perhaps?) will upload specs for all of their LCD panels that will be used by other smart people to create a profile for any given panel that can be dropped onto the board.

It would have to be really low-cost to make sense, but I envision a cottage industry: package it up as a kit, or we could build goofy-looking monitors out of e-waste and sell them!

Somebody else could probably strengthen the argument in favor of this invention by providing a list of terrible LCD ingredients that would be re-purposed out of our trash heaps and water supplies and cat food... I'll leave that up to the experts.

What do you think, folks? Is this a pipe dream, or a viable idea? Either way, let's do it!

(and if anybody manages to make one, I get dibs on a prototype!)

Thanks for reading!



People keep asking this and the answer is:
Laptop screens tend to be built into the laptop, the controller is on the laptop mainboard, as are the connections to the GPU etc. Unless manufacturers switch to plug & play standard displays (and why would they?) it's difficult.
Low-cost isn't going to happen, unless your definition of low cost isn't that low.


As for the idea, I did a little googling and I came up with this.  
Seems to be inline with your thought.  I would like to see something for a simple construction as well.  I think this would open up a lot of -able users who need cheap screens to keep project prices down.

Looks like a brilliant proof-of-concept right there, Critterfluffy!

Challenging, but not impossible. Who will be the first to figure out a way to make cheap kit? Either with good wiring diagrams for the solderer or with optional custom ribbon cables available for each model, a la car stereo wiring harnesses?

Add another board (or "shield?") that can read an SD card, and you've got a digital picture frame instead of a toxic paperweight. Perhaps an Atari 2600 emulator? Pong? 

It's all good!


PS: Nothing is impossible.  I suspect Tech-King works for LCD companies to keep us buying their unrecycled products ; )


8 years ago

 I'm a little lost on this one.
If you could get the info for the pinouts of the laptop cable, wouldn't the graphics card be in whatever device you're attaching it to?

That's what I thought at first, like, couldn't you just wire it up just right and be done? But it's not the graphics card in the device that tech-king and the other kind folks below are talking about, but the LCD controller which is specific to the LCD. It does all the heavy lifting between the input (DVD player, PC video card, etc) and the display. And quoting Zaachinme from below: "... in the range of at least thousands of outputs..."
Perhaps it's a sinister consipiracy between electronics manufacturers, but I'm afraid it does sound cost/labor prohibitive at this point in history.

Any new developments out there in this area that I've missed?

Ahhh, I'm all about conspiracy theories!
Thank you for that further explanation. Now I won't feel bad about taking my old screen apart and using the little fluorescence lights in it to light my macquarium....



sorry everyone but: not possible! a laptop lcd need a special graphics card to run. its usually cheaper to buy a new screen than a laptop gpu adapter.

That's my point... what makes it special, and is there some way to create a general platform upon which we could plop specifics?

no. the card is unsalvagable, but necessary to work the screen.

Curses and drat. Such a waste... Thanks anyway, folks! Mike

once again, my wisdom has saved peole from wasting time and money.

Not sure what card you're talking about, but if its the card I think you're talking about, he'd obviously keep that. Its usually somewhere hidden: and occasionally you think its just a lump of plastic.

its soldered to the laptops main board, and salvageable.

I highly doubt that, considering that it will be in the range of at least thousands of outputs: that means a thousand-wire connection which just isn't practical.