Hackit: Simple Portable Monitor

We’re often asked what a simple way to add a display to a project is and we even hinted at this yesterday with the HMD comparison. The answer is: we’re not really sure. In the past, the go to was PSOne add on displays. They accept composite input which means you can painlessly attach almost any other consumer device with video out. The problem is they’re a little large. Then there’s the spy video car HMD. It’s black and white and accepts composite video too. It’s a little small though, which makes it difficult to work with outside of the original application. So, Hack-a-Day readers, what have you used as a simple palm sized portable display in your projects?

43 thoughts on “Hackit: Simple Portable Monitor

  1. There’s no lower common denominator than HD44780-based character LCDs. They’re cheap, easy to find, easy to interface to, and don’t have the uC memory overhead of storing fonts and icons. Moving on up, there are the Nokia 6100 LCDs (color, 128×128 graphics, SPI).

  2. Old Palm LifeDrive screens seem to work fine. Plus if you want just flash over what your running to the pcb’s ROM (works great out of Linux), and runn it of that. TGfHH! (Thank G*d for Hardware Hacking)

  3. I’ve used a 4X20 character LCD on a parallel cable for WinAmp. It’s the cheapest alternative to a touchscreen for use in a car if you don’t want the touch part. I’m sure the boom viewfinder on a camcorder would also work, even if it would be illegal.

  4. Yes.. Slights mods to a Digital Picture Frame to make something to display messages and logo’s for a client. Its features fitted the requirements but had to keep weight, noise down to a minimum… So converted its USB to use a SMA coax fittings with a switch and a mount… And used brass in a wooden body.

    Completed. It looks like this in operation…


    Blog starts here…

  5. I’ve purchased an old Sony viewfinder for an old VHS camcorder as a display. It used a standard PAL composite in, once I found what wires did what. Ran on 8v though, so its a bit different.

    what’s wrong, [will]? do you not believe in God, or are you afraid that thanking Him for the blessings he gives us is considered profanity by the general public?

    *NOTE: no disrespect toward Will Bueti is intended in this post.

  7. It would lower the sites ratings, praising the lord in the media is risky business particularly online to a multi national, multi cultural fan base. Some people who read hackaday may be insulted by a prayer to god, many less will be insulted by the lack thereof due to the fact that their own prayers in their own homes and places of worship are enough for them, while for others they feel they must encourage others to partake when it would not be in their best interests.

    If you wish to respond I recommend doing it privately at edward.nardella@gmail.com.

  8. You can get small car displays with quite reasonable resolutions, touchscreen & even cd drives. Most of which take composite or occasionally VGA.
    I’m planning on using one of these for a home control system, and being a sysadmin, a compact monitor is invaluable.

  9. Check your local second hand stores. Sometimes you can find cheap DVD players that have a video input. They are usually already set up to use vehicle power. Sometimes a set will have a secondary monitor, that you can use just as it is.

  10. Im pretty much ignorant about the whole subject matter. So I have a question really. I found replacement iPhone screens on ebay for about $50. What would be the possibilities or limitations in using one of these touchscreens as a display?

  11. #17

    fluxorz is referring to post #6, which states “TGfHH! (Thank G*d for Hardware Hacking)”

    I also find it odd not only that will not only makes up acronyms, but censors the word god with an asterisk. Under normal conditions I wouldn’t find it odd enough to say, but I felt a need for clarity with post #14 sounding like a non-canonical atheistic jab.

  12. Audiovox D1500A screen (search benheck.com forums), or many other DVD screens, look for models with video input. Also computergeeks.com has a 1.5″ screen on a 3.5″ DVD player that is said to accept video inputs for $20 and also comes with a battery and charger. (you could always use this to watch a 3.5″ DVD too ;)

  13. I guess the two comments were about the “g*d” comment above, getting some xtians all riled up. Doesn’t matter though since Cthulhu will eat them regardless ;)

    Anyway, Nokia 6100 LCDs will do nicely.

  14. Well, I’m not sure it’s *quite* what you meant, but I’ve been using my PSP as a display.

    Connect to my laptop via the wireless card, then run an SSH app or VNC app to control it.

    Great for wireless penetration testing on the move – laptop in my backpack, PSP in hand. Inconspicuous.

    I did make a portable disply a while ago though, based on one of the hacks on this site – the portable dvd player/video-in hack. I found one and all I had to do was build a custom housing and solder in a traditional rca socket for the video. Worked a charm.

  15. Do the Nokia 6100 displays get a decent framerate when interfaced to a linux box? In 5 minutes of googling I only found lpt interfaces to this display and I doubt those would go >1 frame/sec.

  16. I think that one of the most readily available screens would be from that of cell phones. You can get a cell phone starting at 10 bucks with color screens that don’t do too bad considering the price tag. If i knew how, i would gladly buy them for pc case mods and the like. Virgin mobile has one of the cheapest and most readily avialable cheap phones that i have found.

  17. This discussion seems a little dead but, no one had mention digital camera displays. I haven’t looked into this peronally but some can be had cheap with nice res and color. Also the Jews don’t use g*d to replace Gods name as his name is actually Yhwh or in modern english Jehovah. This is according to Jewish and also the Catholic church. The Jews were afraid to say it wrong as ancient hebrew had no vowels. Just had to add what I know to the conversation.

  18. how about leaving the praying for church and in ur own homes, I am a religious man but this isnt really the place for imposing your want to pray on others including me if you really want to thank god that much turn off your pc and go to church (ps dont hack anything there)
    bullet points
    1 church for praying
    hackaday for hacking

  19. I know that this thread is damn old but I just have to ask, would it be possible to use an Andoid phone (via the mini usb?) as a monitor? Recently I read about the usb host mode that’s being developed… do you hackers think that one’s possible?


  20. 3.5” TFT LCD Backup displays, for use in vehicle backup camera systems, $25 on amazon, works wonderfully in conjunction with Composite Out (requires just two resistors) on a duino. Works well for the pi once you get the resolution setup right.

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