Recycling A Laptop Screen Into A Portable Folding Monitor

There’s plenty of times we’ve seen a laptop fail, break, or just become too slow for purpose despite the fact that it’s still packing some useful components. With all the single-board computers and other experiments lurking about the average hacker workshop, it’s often useful to have a spare screen on hand, and an old laptop is a great way to get one. This recycled display build from [Gregory Sanders] is a great example of how to reuse old hardware.

The build doesn’t simply package a laptop monitor in the same way as a regular desktop unit. Instead, [Gregory] designed a custom 3D printed frame with an arch design. The laptop screen is installed onto the frame using its original hinges, and [Gregory] designed in standoffs for an laptop LCD driver board to run the display as well as a generic frame where single-board computers can be installed.

The result is a portable monitor that can be folded up for easy transport, which is also self-supporting with its nice large base. It can also be used with other hardware, as it has a full complement of DVI, HDMI and VGA inputs on board. Of course, while you’re tinkering with laptop displays, you might also consider building yourself a dual-screen laptop as well.

16 thoughts on “Recycling A Laptop Screen Into A Portable Folding Monitor

  1. I agree, they are useful. I didn’t write my build up because it’s not much of a hack. My teen age daughter spilled a drink all over the keyboard of her laptop and left it soaking for several days. Needless to say, the laptop was fried, but the screen was still fine. I salvaged the screen and designed a laser cut bezel and stand for it. I was able to buy a controller board for it and it now is the screen for a Raspi 4. It’s nothing like as nice as this one.

  2. Been planning to turn a couple of laptop monitors I salvaged into a portable dual-monitor system that will fit inside some kind of compact protective case. Probably won’t be pretty when it’s done but I’ll write something up.

  3. This is something I wish **ALL** laptop manufacturers would build into their systems. Even if it was simply a mode that you could enable in BIOS, or a hidden BIOS feature– or however it could be arranged– so when your laptop has outlived its usefulness, it can live on as a Monitor, “lightweight terminal”, and other similar modes.

    Yes, I am aware that this article is about that exact topic, and shows people ways to convert their systems– but I think this should be built-in to the machine itself, so that people would realize there are alternate uses their hardware can perform, even after its original service life, and help cut down and reduce the gigantic flood of e-waste in our world.

    1. Always thought that the PineBook Pro missed a trick by omitting an HDMI input mode. The CPU has an unused MIPI-CSI interface capable of HDMI resolutions, as well as a USB Device Controller. Add an HDMI2CSI chip, and you have a perfect crash cart/portable KVM.

  4. I approached this from another angle. I had a laptop with a sub-1020 display and I wanted the option to separate the screen from the body for ergonomic reasons. A new panel and driver board later, fitted to the old shell of the lid, and a curly hdmi cable later and I was sorted. No idea why a “spittable” laptop isn’t available commercially, but there you are…

  5. wow on reading this article, i was astonished to imagine that laptop lcds are so standardized you can get an hdmi->lcd board for cheap. but now i look and i see, there are a dozen different hdmi->lcd boards you can buy, and each one is cheap! far out!

    the only thing stopping me from doing this is that the computer i would like to put a cheap lcd monitor on happens to have a perfectly working crt hooked up to it…so unless i’m actually gonna dumpster the crt, hard to justify the effort.

    1. The CRT uses a lot more power than the LCD. That might be one reason to use it less often.

      Speaking to your first point, I wish there were a guide that made it easy to determine which type of interface a given laptop screen uses. It could be LVDS, eDP, or something older. Not to mention all the custom connector types…

      1. Not the most streamlined method, but usually if you search for the panels model number and “driver board” you get some results, at least if its a fairly popular laptop

  6. I have looked into this and the piece you need to interface the laptop screen to anything seems to cost more than an actual monitor. Kind of like the false economy of the cantenna. The antenna is free but the cable costs more than a yagi with a cable from china.

    If you are into computers and you pick up a couple old monitors you will find you start to collect them. I was so happy when I got my first one, and my second one, now I must have 30 of them. I have enough old PC’s that I have pondered getting the spot welder out and making an igloo out of them. It seems when you have a few, people seem to think you like them and more come in. Ditto with tee vees. The first few big screens were cool, now I must have 12 of them.

    Ditto with lawn mowers and things with engines.

    Now if I could just find solar panels like that. With better ones coming out there has to be a ton of older ones piling up someplace!

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