Solar Display Case Is A Portable Triple Monitor Setup

They say once you start using twin monitors on the desktop, you’ll never want to go back. It’s even worse when you upgrade to three or more. However, it can be difficult to take such a set up on the road. Desiring better productivity on the go is what spurred [Brian Whitsett] to develop the Solar Display Case to solve this problem.

The Solar Display Case aims to pack three 17″ full-size monitors into a portable waterproof case. Brian has already built a prototype, which puts the monitors on folding arms so that they can be quickly stowed or deployed when needed.

The build also relies on solar power to charge batteries, in order to make the solution as portable as any laptop or other hardware you may be using with it. It’s no good having three mains-powered monitors sitting in the field with no AC power, after all. [Brian] aims to use a flexible solar panel to make the most of the surface area of the deployed assembly, for maximum power generation.

It’s a great project, and one we’d love to see fleshed out to the fullest. Imagining a briefcase that folds out into a triple-monitor workstation is exciting, and it looks like [Brian] is well on the way to making it a reality.

10 thoughts on “Solar Display Case Is A Portable Triple Monitor Setup

  1. Really neat idea, though I don’t think there is near enough surface area on those monitors to reliably get close to powering them, unless they are transflective tech monitors (which don’t seem to be made anymore) so they don’t need beefy backlights being largely backlight by the ambient light (think the tech as fallen out of favour as it looses effectiveness at higher DPI – though the ones in the ol’ Toughbooks I’ve got are more than sharp enough IMO…

    Seems to me like there needs to be a bigger fold out solar array – probably also acting as a shade for the monitors, for anti-glare reasons, at least if intending to actually use it outside. So perhaps look at origami fold patterns so the solar array is deployed by unfurling the monitors.

    1. Also I agree with the basic premise I had two monitors for a while and the only thing that got me back to one is this monitor is effectively 4 monitors of the same size in one (when you want it to be – got fancy Picture in picture and tiling modes for all the inputs). Really jarring to me every time I end up just using my laptop, can’t see every reference page or see the VM and host desktop at once! Not only is it only 4:3, but 10.1″ if memory serves…

      1. There are off the shelf dual screen laptops, I picked up an Asus Zenbook Duo UX481 which moves the keyboard to the front edge and puts a half-height screen where the keyboard used to be. Not quite as awesome as the thinkpads with a secondary screen built into the lid since you have to look down at the desk to see it but that makes sense for documentation, it’s like looking at printed pages.

  2. I don’t think you meant to say “17″ full-size monitors” – I think you meant to say “17″ mini monitors”

    17″ hasn’t been full sized for a monitor for at least 25 years.. Now full sized is 32″.. And most of the people I know working doing coding have at least two (ie two is the minimum) – I have 4 on this pc (thee in a row, one above)…

    That said, I can see what he trying to do – but getting enough solar power isn’t going to be easy. I normally :-) get away with taking a few 32″ ones and a long power cord with me :-)

    1. “And most of the people I know working doing coding have at least two (ie two is the minimum) ”

      Aha – I do all my coding on a laptop with only one screen – but I do have 8 virtual desktops, and that is imo a far better solution.

      1. There is a point when more screen is just wasted energy, but equally there is that point where having the second/third screen lets you have what you are working on, and several references open to just glance at – as soon as you have to tab through to the right desktop, find the right window or worse after doing so find the right page again (because some web references especially love to jump back to the top when focus is lost) you loose that concentration on what you were doing….

        Personally I think 2 monitors of big enough size to render something like an A4 page of comfortable to read text twice in width is plenty almost all the time. I only went for the giant 4 monitors in one solution as its a bezel less experience, more energy efficient than just 2 of the other suitable monitors, and makes for a great single monitor for media consumption – plus with enough Pi’s and VM’s doing tasks sometimes having that 4 ‘monitors’ to keep tabs on them and poke them for the next job as it comes up is handy. Far from required, but it does speed up the process if that monitor/window is in your field of view.

        1. “because some web references especially love to jump back to the top when focus is lost”

          I have NEVER experienced that a webpage jumps back to top when switching to an other desktop!

          1. Its not common, in my experience either, but when it happens boy is it infuriating. Didn’t dig into why much, assumed it was something to do with being an idled cached page with adverts that update and that update mechanism borks to a full page refresh with no memory of view position if the page was parked – though I guess it might not even need a parked page and just be a terrible webpage that does that every time the ads change…

            Also seen a few programs that do similar on any change of window size, resolution etc – and that can be the case when something else you run goes full screen on that output…

            On the whole though that sort of issue is very rare, just infuriating, and quite possibly not avoidable with extra monitors or not…

  3. Pretty cool idea.

    Not worried about power consumption on this build since it’s using portable monitors meant to be driven from USB for power. Am a bit confused about the solar panels though. If you’re using this, you’d have to either let it charge and then use it, or be out in the sun with the panels at a weird angle. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the panels removable somehow so you can be in the shade and have them be in the sunshine?

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