Dumpster Finds Combined Into 4K Desktop Monitor

Dumpster diving is a time honored tradition in the hacking community. You can find all sorts of interesting hardware in the trash, and sometimes it’s even fully functional. But even the broken gadgets are worth taking back to your lair to strip for parts. If you’re as lucky as [Jamz], you might be able to mash a few devices together and turn them into something usable.

In this case, [Jamz] scored a LG 27UK650 monitor with a cracked display and a Dell OptiPlex 7440 “All-in-One” computer that was DOA. Separately these two pieces of gear were little more than a pile of spare parts waiting to be liberated. But if the control board could be salvaged from the monitor, and the working LCD pulled from the Dell…

After taking everything apart, [Jamz] made a frame for this new Frankenstein monitor using pieces of aluminum channel from the hardware store and 3D printed side panels. With the Dell LCD mounted in the skeletal frame, the control board from the LG monitor was bolted to the back and wired in. Finally the center section of the LG monitor’s back panel was cut out and mounted to the new hybrid display with a 3D printed frame.

Admittedly, these were some pretty solid finds as far as trash goes. You won’t always be so lucky. But if you can keep an open mind, the curb is littered with possibilities. How about some impressive home lighting that started life as a cracked flat screen TV?

31 thoughts on “Dumpster Finds Combined Into 4K Desktop Monitor

  1. Congrats. Definitely lucky one.
    The only thing I found “worth” the dive recently was a Playstation 2 in great condition, I still had the accessories and cables.

    I have to go to the waste management park* today, let’s see. :)

    * i don’t know how you call it in english.

  2. Did the same thing with an Apple 27″ 4K panel )LM270WQ1-SDA2) and a DisplayPort controller I purchased from AliExpress. Works great. Although I have to still make a nice bezel for it. :)

      1. Seconded. Found a few places on ali that sell bare 4k laptop screens/eDP controllers, but I’d love to see other options. Maybe if a more general controller board exists.

  3. I found a printer/scanner combo litterally in the pouring rain. I brought it home for parts, but plugged it in to check what it was worth. Now I have a working scanner (sans lid)/colour printer and still need to find some trash printer I can use for parts.

  4. I assume by the use of “Baby bonus” that you’re aussie?

    If so, during a hard period of my life I need to rely on newstart, I was extremely lucky and qualified for nearly the maximum amount available, less that $640/fortnight. I barely survived, my rent alone was a major portion of that, not to mention fuel, groceries, power, and a phone line (couldn’t afford internet).
    To say that that was “excessive” shows you’ve never been in so desperate a situation. Just because a few bogans waste what little they have doesn’t make the system excessive.

    1. I’ve built my entire home theater system from Parts from cars, old computers, speakers and subs from Walmart, stock car speakers, car subs, and things from goodwiil and the side of the road/dumpster. It seems to cover most of the frequency range pretty well. You have to really crank it if you have a computer or something connected via aux to rca. When it comes to sound overall, it’s a little hollow in one of the subs so bass is occasionally muddy at certain frequencies.. but overall it sounds great.

  5. Ok. I’m confused on one point.

    Is [Jamz] exceedingly lucky to have stumbled upon a controller and an LCD that are compatible with one another? Or are these things a lot more interchangeable than I have been lead to believe?

    I’ve toyed with the idea of buying controllers off the internet and turning the screens off of a couple old laptops that I have into usable monitors. Or at least that’s the short version of what I want to do. Anyway, what I have found is that the controller boards are advertised with long lists of compatible screens, you have to identify your scrap and find the right board. Even then the seller usually wants you to send them the exact model number of your screen so they can customize the firmware.

    It wouldn’t have ocured to me to just grab these two seemingly random bits out of the trash and connect them together. Given a heap of junk to work with, is such a thing likely to work? Have I been going about it all wrong?

    1. It’s usually the same hardware for the controller board (with a few exceptions depending on what kind of signalling the screen will accept, plus variations for input format) but like you said, just have to set up the firmware right. Usually you can flash it to control a different model screen.

    2. I took a chance with the replacement screen and it worked, panels are same but make different model. I used data sheets to validate the interface to make sure it is electrical compatible. I just worked, did not had to mess with firmware. Ended up building 4 of these.

  6. Here in Hollyweird California, we have large item pick up by the city once a year.
    That does not stop anyone from leaving random large items at the curb anyway.
    I spotted a full size xerox machine at the curb last week, but the wife was with me, so “No Joy”.
    Our local Sears store tosses many returned items in the trash bin.
    Many follow the bin to the dump and pick through the leavings.
    Then they return them to Sears again, and exchange for new.

  7. Ah the old welfare queen myth. Have no idea how you people ever fell for that fantasy. You should get out more and look at the real world, not the one on your screen for a change.

  8. You are all lucky to be able to pick through discards other than curbed items. Our private recycling of electronics is 2 hours on monthly Saturdays. No admittance signs and insurance qualms abound. The drive up point is at the gates of hell, no living mortal may look past this line and lust.

    I just de-screened a 4K TV into a big light panel 5 feet wide. Rewire the +5 and P-on lines and plug in to make daylight happen.

  9. Is there a forum that specializes in figuring out what LCDs can be used to upgrade laptop displays? If not, there needs to be one. There have been a lot of rather well specced laptops made that were only available with a 1440×900, 1280×800, or worst of all 1736×768 display.

    Right now I have on hand an Acer Aspire 5733Z-4633 with 4 gig RAM (upgradeable to 8). I swapped an i5 CPU in and replaced the dead 5400 RPM 500 gig drive with a 7200 RPM 500 gig drive. It’s all zippy and peppy now, even with Win 10 Home. But it’s stuck with the 1736×768 display. No matter what options were ordered, that was the only resolution available.

      1. Because as it is I want to sell the laptop to someone who just needs something real basic. It only has USB 2.0, a VGA port, ethernet, SD slot, and DVD burner. Without an ExpressCard slot there’s no upgrading the I/O with USB 3 or anything else.

        It was a freebie because the hard drive was going bad. I saved the data and its owner gave it to me. So I upgraded the CPU and hard drive as cheap as I could. Still worth at best $100 and putting an SSD in would make for pretty much zero profit. If it had a 1280×800 or 1440×900 LCD I’d probably want to keep it for a ‘knockaroud’ lappy I wouldn’t care about if it got lost, stolen, run over by a truck etc. But the screen resolution kills any possibility of me wanting to keep it for any purpose.

        768 pixel tall PC video was introduced 38 years ago! WTF are manufacturers still making computers with a 38 year old vertical resolution? Especially when circa 12 years ago the common resolution on low end laptops was 1280×800. Put a few more pixels on the sides but knock 32 off the height.

        What’s worse is some companies make a 1736×768 display available as an option on their high end business laptops. Why?!? Why would anyone think “I’ll opt for the Core i7 CPU, discreet GPU, 16 gig RAM, largest hard drive *and the crappiest display option on offer*.”? But people do that, and you can find ones like that on eBay, probably because the owner got tired of trying to run a fast computer through a display like a mail slot.

        1. Actually, “Follow The Money” is the answer. The bean counters insist on cutting every corner they can to maximize company profits. From my experience, a true “Business Class” laptop will have better specs than the Walmart sold one. Even then, LCD panels are purchased, not made in-house, so they buy at best price. It’s not rocket science.

    1. Laptops that drive their monitor using eDP are fairly flexible iirc. I upgraded my 11.6″ laptop a while back and only needed to check the number of eDP lanes. I had enough for 1920×1080 up from 1366×768 but couldn’t find a panel in that size so ended up with 1366×768 again but with a much better brightness and contrast ratio.

    2. There is a site called panelook which is basically a database of pretty much every display panel made, if you can get the actual panel model code/number from the existing screen then look it up there, you will be able to find a potential upgrade.

      Myself and a few guys on notebookcheck did this a few years back to find better panels for our Alienware 15 laptops as the shipped panels were of poor colour and ghosted a lot, we found several much better replacements. Have a look!

  10. Co za filozofia połączyć matryce z jednego monitora czy tv ze sterownikiem z innego tv czy monitora. Większość tych sprzętów posiada matrycę 30pin LVDS 2ch 8bit, full HD. Po sprawdzeniu interfejsu i napięcia matrycy i sterownika prac drivera LED, wystarczy tylko podłączyć dwa kabelki. A wy się tym tak podniecacie… Tv HD ready ccfl z tunerem analogowym, przerobiłem z powodzeniem na LED z tunerem cyfrowym. Robię takie rzeczy od wielu lat i nie ma o tym żadnych artykułów, bo u nas to normalka, że przywraca się do życia sprzęty, które ktoś uznaje za złom. Jedyny problem, to dostępność, bo nie każdy wyrzuca sprzęt nadający się do “ożywienia”.

    1. Yes I am excited, but not because I connected couple cables, but because it is option for people (including me) to get hands on inexpressive, but functional 4K monitor option that includes HDR, FreeSync and USB C (27UK850). And the dump is on the only option, you can everything you need on the popular action site for less that $100.

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