Put Those IPad Displays To Work With This EDP Adapter

Regardless of how you might feel about Apple and the ecosystem they’ve cultured over the years, you’ve got to give them some credit in the hardware department. Their “Retina” displays are a perfect example; when they brought the 2,048 by 1,536 panel to the iPad 3, the technology instantly became the envy of every tablet owner. But what if you want to use one of these gorgeous screens outside of Apple’s walled garden?

As it turns out, there are a number of options out there to use these screens on other devices, but [Arthur Jordan] wasn’t quite happy with any of them. So he did what any self respecting hacker would do, and built his own adapter for iPad 3 and 4 screens. Not that he did it completely in the dark; his design is based on the open source Adafruit Qualia driver, which in turn was based on research done by [Mike’s Mods]. A perfect example of the open source community at work.

The resulting board allows you to connect the Retina display from the iPad 3 or 4 to any device that features Embedded DisplayPort (eDP). Rather than put a dedicated port on his board, [Arthur] just left bare pads where you can solder up whatever interface method your particular gadget might use. In his case, he wanted to hook it up to an x86 UP Core SBC, so he even came up with a seperate adapter that breaks out that board’s diminutive display connector to something that can be soldered by hand.

So what’s different between the board [Arthur] developed and Adafruit’s Qualia? Primarily its been made smaller by deleting the DisplayPort connectors in favor of those bare pads, but he’s also dumped the backlight control hardware and 3.3V regulator that in his experience hasn’t been necessary with the eDP devices he’s worked with. So if space is a concern in your build, this version might be what you’re after.

We’ve seen other Retina display adapters in the past, and of course the iPad isn’t the only high-end device that’s had a screen good enough to reuse on its own. The lesson here is that if you put a must-have feature in your product, don’t be surprised when some hacker comes along and figures out how to liberate it for their own purposes.

37 thoughts on “Put Those IPad Displays To Work With This EDP Adapter

    1. There are lots of tablet/phone parts suppliers online. MobileSentrix and Injured gadgets are the two best in my experience as a cell phone repair tech. They can be found easily on eBay as well though both those suppliers I listed have warranties on their parts and a reputable companies, not little baby eBay sellers.

  1. “Regardless of how you might feel about Apple and the ecosystem they’ve cultured over the years, you’ve got to give them some credit in the hardware department. ”

    That is a hell of a way to start a tech story.

    1. What do you mean? The HaD target audience isn’t exactly the type to buy into the Cult of Mac, but there’s no denying they have put out some pretty impressive hardware over the years.

      1. It says Apple, not Mac. And Apple innovations have been outstanding dating back to Woz putting 6502 floating point into 256 bytes and his bit-banged self-calibrating floppy software and encoding schemes, and plenty of Mac innovations in software and hardware.

        But regardless, a strange and snarky intro.

  2. “Regardless of how you might feel about Apple and the ecosystem they’ve cultured over the years, you’ve got to give them some credit in the hardware department. Their “Retina” displays are a perfect example; ”

    Yes, Apple should be lauded because of their shopping prowess.

    1. Where exactly did they buy them from then? Before Apple forced the market to catch up, *nobody* was making high-resolution LCD displays. People forget how 1024×768 was the maximum screen resolution on laptops for a full decade prior.

      I had one of the only *three* laptop models at the time that had anything with a higher dpi, and even then it was only 1400×1050.

      1. Which decade exactly are you talking about? Retina displays came out in Autumn 2012 (I’m still using the original MBP with Retina). A decade earlier would be starting 2002 then. 2004 or 2005 I bought a 15″ laptop with 1600×1200 display. That was my first laptop and I’d held off buying one precisely because the displays had terrible resolutions. Wasn’t that much longer till 1920×1200 became available, which unfortunately didn’t last very long and was surpassed by ‘wide-screen’ 1920×1080.

  3. if only more stuff could be adapted that easily. like the cameras from nokia 808 1020 phones, theyre old and cheap but still got 40mp. imagine them being adapted to the raspi’s mipi csi port

  4. Congratulations! One question, did you have to change something in the UP VBIOS? We are triying to drive an eDP native screen using an UP CORE PLUS (1xfull-eDP), and it looks we have to modify the VBIOS. Thanks

      1. Thanks for your quick answer.
        In UP support, they say fine VBIOS tune is needed, depending on the eDP screen you are using. Anyway, we are going to test our screen (AUO B101UAN01.C) connectig it directly (we know we have to change the pinout) to cn31 (edp UP CORE PLUS connector). First, we will connect the 2 differential video pairs, and the aux pair too. The 3.3V power are taken from an external source, as well as the signals for backlight, pwm and the light power pins. Any advice?
        Thank you very much for your help

  5. Would this display adapter work with an iPad 2 LCD? If not, would you know of any adapters or modification methods that may exist to make it work? I took apart my old iPad and want to use the LCD as a monitor. Thanks!

    1. Hi. I’ve got a similar question as Taylor above. I’ve got this old first generation ipad 1 in front of me and wondering how I can reuse its LCD display as an external monitor? Is there a shield or adapter for that? Thanks!

      1. I have been studying a little about this (I know almost nothing about electronics, I am a software developer) and I learned that there are two types of interfaces for LCD panels/displays for the iPad Mini: MIPI and eDP. Apparently, to convert from eDP to HDMI is more trivial than to convert from MIPI to any other interface. That is why we can see lots of these controllers that work for Ipad Air displays, because they are eDP. In the case of iPad Mini, there is one exception for the MIDI rule, which is the panel LG LP079QX1-SPxx. There are boards that convert MIPI to HDMI on AliExpress for example, but they are much more expensive than those using eDP or LVDS. And finally, it is a shame because the 7.9 inch size is perfect for handheld applications.

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