What kinds of things can you do with a laptop LCD (besides using it as the display for a laptop)?
March 10, 2004 2:04 PM   Subscribe

This is an idle thought but: how many uses are there for laptop LCDs? I'm wondering if, for example, I can take one and hook it up to a tv tuner (w/out using a computer) and have a cheap wall mounted tv? Or how about adapting one to serve as a second monitor for a desktop pc? Anyone ever done this kind of stuff? Know someone who has? Do tell.
posted by Grod to Technology (12 answers total)
I saw an installation by John F. Simon, Jr. that used skinned Powerbooks (sans keyboards and cases) as animated pictures.
posted by hyperizer at 2:35 PM on March 10, 2004

Response by poster: It looks like the monitor is still conected to the computer, still a very cool idea. On the otherhand, what a costly way to execute it.
posted by Grod at 2:49 PM on March 10, 2004

My comment here has some info on how to do this (only works with certain types of screens, though).
posted by j.edwards at 3:10 PM on March 10, 2004

This interests me as well, Grod. I have an iBook who's LCD I would like to use as a second monitor or for another creative purpose.

Do tell, indeed.
posted by tenseone at 3:10 PM on March 10, 2004

If you're actually going to disconnect it from the computer, it's going to take a lot of effort to actually use it as a normal display. Using it as a slow display running off a serial link is going to require a slightly simpler setup with some framebuffer memory to back it up, but it's still way out of your league for making yourself if you need ask I'm afraid..

Your best shot is probably seeing if you can get the machine running and putting either a unix with an X server on it or windows and VNC. The nice thing if you use unix and X on both machines is you might be able to hack something together where you use only one mouse/keyboard by running a dummy driver as the secondary display, and relaying keyboard+mouse to the second machine if the mouse cursor is on that display. Come to think of it, that's probably going to require quite a lot of coding too.

Long story short: using it as a secondary display with the same mouse/keyboard is probably not viable. Using it as a status display or with separate input hardware is quite easy as long as the machine is still working.
posted by fvw at 3:46 PM on March 10, 2004

J. Edwards link is to all the previous thread you need to try it,

I had a stack of old powerbooks to try this with once,
and it is decidedly non-trivial especially considering you can
get a 17" discount no-name LCD display for less than the
cost of the controller and PS.
(but, If you do find a way to do it I would love to hear about it)
posted by milovoo at 3:55 PM on March 10, 2004

fwv, Come to think of it, that's probably going to require quite a lot of coding too.

x2vnc will do it:
This program will let you use two screens on two different computers as if they were connected to the same computer. Even if one of the computers runs Windows 95/98/NT and the other one runs X-windows.
Also there's x2x.

One of those is probably the easiest choice, if the computer the LCD is attached to is still functional.
posted by duckstab at 4:16 PM on March 10, 2004

Response by poster: So as far as plugging an LCD sans computer into some kind of TV tuner and hanging it on my wall...
I guess that's a no, huh?
posted by Grod at 4:27 PM on March 10, 2004

That's useful duckstab. Interesting approach too, even though it does loose you one column of pixels. Still, it's a small price, thanks.

Grod: Unless by tv tuner you mean tv tuner plus custom hardware to drive that specific LCD or bridge to the onboard VGA controller: yes, that's a no.
posted by fvw at 5:26 PM on March 10, 2004

I had posted the previous question, and I just want to say that the circumstances are utterly wrong. I look at the old MOBO for my ancient PB 540c and the video section is one chip. One, bloody chip and some glue logic. Whereas these controllers that can go from SVGA or NTSC to drive the LCD are huge by comparison.

Fundamentally, I know that the task I would like to perform is comparable to what has to go into an LCD monitor/tv and is similarly compact and cheap. Therefore, I believe that there should be a purchasable controller chip that is similar to what goes into one of these units. At the very least, I should think that Toshiba would publish the specs for the LCDs, which tend to be very good at recommending methods to drive them--after all, it's in their best interest to do so as long as they sell that particular LCD. Unfortunately, it appears that LCD screens have a tiny life cycle as a product, probably because Moore's law applies to these products as much as anything else, so they can make more for less. It's a shame because what I'd like to do it take a micro-itx type PC and create a box that would hold it, include a tiltable LCD in the design and a set of arcade controllers to turn it into a nice laptop MAME machine. Because of this void, I have to either scrap my old screen (or sell it on eBay, along with the other remaining parts) and buy another or purchase a $300 LCD screen to work with. Both routes cost more than I'd like.
Hell, if I could find the right chip, I'd go to the effort of designing up a circuit board to make it happen. Another option, which is more cost effective is to make what amounts to a MAME playstation. I also have a salvaged a slim cd-rom drive from an iMac but that needs a special auxilliary board to be able to get audio and an ide connector for $10, which is 1/4 of the cost of a new slim cd-rom with the board bundled. I don't like to feel like I'm being punished for being frugal.
posted by plinth at 6:01 PM on March 10, 2004

For the Laptop LCD, if you want to run it without the laptop, you will definately need a controller chip and some really good soldering & electronics experience.

I have heard of NONE sold that had a regular VGA interface. Sorry.
posted by shepd at 7:39 PM on March 10, 2004

I have heard of NONE sold that had a regular VGA interface.

Check the links in my post on the last thread. There are a number of controllers available with everything from VGA to composite to DVI/raw TFT/LVDS inputs. The real catch is if you have the correct laptop LCD (since everything works on certain models only).
posted by j.edwards at 11:10 PM on March 10, 2004

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