[HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

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domih
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[HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

Hello,

I'm recycling the LCD of a dead laptop for use with a C4 or HC4. See pictures at the bottom.

I ordered the LCD controller board from eBay, see picture at the bottom.

The controller board looks like it is only handling the screen and does not care about the back-light.

Two hours of searching on the net were not successful :( (too many different answers). Watching youtube videos about LCD back-light as of this writing.

Does any good Samaritan know which voltage I should apply to this LCD back-light?

TIA!
back-of-lcd-panel.png
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lcd-model-number.png
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Last edited by domih on Wed Apr 14, 2021 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

Probably never mind: the back-light cable just plugs into the inverter.

I saw it twice in YouTube videos, then I check the PCB pieces from the laptop and the one with the plug to receive the back-light cable is indeed the laptop inverter :-)

Incredible the stuff you can learn in YouTube.

The eBay picture in the OP shows that same plug at the top of the inverter.

Topic quasi-closed. I'll put SOLVED in the title once I receive the controller board.
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odroid (Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:37 am)

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

I receive the kit from China!

1. The back-light connector can only be plugged in one orientation, so no worry about polarity.
2. I used a multi-meter to check that the 12V power plug has the + with the center pin. It does. So I use a 12V power brick from my stash to power the LCD controller.

I then connected the C4 HDMI and powered both the C4 and the LCD controller. It was a non-issue story. It worked AOK on the first try :-)

See below the system working. The C4 is on the right of the screen, the LCD controller 3 boards are at the bottom of the screen.

1.png
1.png (1.49 MiB) Viewed 1130 times

The resolution with this particular LCD is 1680 x 1050.

2.png
2.png (1.68 MiB) Viewed 1130 times

CONCLUSION
1. I do not have a lot of knowledge in electronics. I know some basics but I am quasi ignorant in terms of hand-on. Because of that I thought it would be a long shot. It was not, it was more like assembling Lego pieces and it worked on first try.
2. Total cost so far is $21 for the kit. So if you have dead laptops or know people who are going to send theirs to recycling, you now know how to make a $21 LCD monitor :-) You just need to carefully disassemble the LCD from the laptop, write down its model number and look for the controller on eBay, AliExpress, etc.
3. Note that the LCD is now a HDMI, DVI or VGA monitor with this particular LCD controller so I can use it with any SBC or PC.

The project will cost more than $21 at the end because I need to make a case for the LCD plus its controller. I think I'll put the C4 into the case to make it an all-in-one. IMHO, the extra cost to make the case does not count 100% as expense because it is also a story of spending time making something creative with my hands: it's fun.

Credits and source of inspiration
DIY Perks / Building a USB-C touchscreen monitor (new for 2021) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrqdHVeBkp4
I recommend this YouTuber for learning DIY stuff!

Tip about dead laptops
I have seen people trashing (recycling) their laptops and buy a brand new one. Often their issue was that the fans of the laptop were constantly running full speed and the laptop was running slower than when it was "new". If this happens to you, the story is probably and simply the thermal paste between the CPU (and the optional discrete GPU) which has been cooking for many years and no longer provide a good contact with the heat pipes. It is also possible that the fans got clogged with dust and dirt. As a result the CPU is no longer correctly cooled, the fans spin as fast as possible, the CPU throttles down and your laptop becomes slow. In such a case, and if your laptop is still "current" compared to the modern stuff, you can save $$$ by giving a new youth to your laptop. The process is not for beginners but not for experts either. If this is the first time you disassemble a laptop with the ultimate goal to reassemble it in working condition you just need to be patient and careful so that you don't damage parts. A big part of the process is to spot the screws.

a) Carefully disassemble the back panel from the laptop (make sure to remove the battery first!). You should see the heat pipes for the CPU and the optional discrete GPU.
b) Carefully disassemble the heat pipes from the board.
c) Check for dust in the fans, use an air can for cleaning up, hold the fan with one finger so that it doesn't spin like crazy and destroy its fragile bearings in the process. Yes the noise a fan makes when running beyond specifications is fun but you just killed the fan or make its remaining life much shorter.
d) Use isopropyl alcohol to remove the old "dead" thermal paste from the CPU, optional GPU and heat pipe contact areas.
e) Apply brand new thermal paste (Artic MX, the one coming with Noctua heat sinks, etc)
f) Reassemble the heat pipes.
g) While being carefully of not touching the electronics or short-circuiting it, power on the laptop to check it (still) works. If it does, power it off, remove the battery or disconnect the power cable.
h) Reassemble the back panel.

You now have a laptop that work as fast as when it was new and the fans are no longer spinning full speed all the time.

Note: disassembling a laptop back panel usually involves unscrewing around two dozens screws and they are not all the same type. Have enough room on the table to place the screws in relative positions so that when it is time to re-assemble you know which screw goes where.
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by joerg »

@domih, I apreciate a lot that you give detailed instruction how to reuse old laptop monitor. I am a big fan of reusing things.
Years ago I made two All-In-One PC with C2: viewtopic.php?f=140&t=19130. The photos are lost because of the forum data loss.
But as I am electronics specialist, it was easy for me and I haven't realized that for others it need detailed instruction how to do this. And of course because my laziness :D.
I would like to rework them, if I could find some 15.4" multitouch panels :(.
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by mad_ady »

It sounds like a great project, and I have a couple of old laptops around (pushing 15 years of age) that could forego their displays (sadly, low res), but the displays could become excellent photo frames.

The only problem is - rebuilding them in a decent-looking case... I don't have wood/aluminum working skills or tools, and no 3d printer :( Yesterday I needed to attach a 2.5" hdd to a c4 case and resorted to duct tape, like a neandethal... So all my projects though functional/cost effective/fun to build, sadly look like coming out from the junkyard/a steampunk convention. :(

So if you can point me to a course that would teach me how to become a diy artist without all the tools the diyperks guy has, I'd be in your debt...

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by joerg »

Maybe I find some old photos of my projects...
But in basic, the glass pane I took from a photo frame. It's about 2mm thick glas. Frome the back side I masked it off with a fine tape exactly due to the visible lcd area and pained it with brilliant black spray paint. And then it can be fixed on the old lcd with a double side foam tape. Of course then it need some frame housing that doesn't need to be to beautiful, because it is covered by the black painted glass.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by istanbulls »

I have tried this with a few LCDs. I have two monitors that have been working this way for a few years.
Not a sensible cheap solution, it doesn't do much more than keep the old useless LCD alive. (that was my purpose anyway)
$ 20-25 Kit $ 5-7 12v3amp psu and shipping is not a logical cost when you add up.
For the same money in my country, I can buy a used 1080p bigger screen.
A lot of gaming enthusiasts are selling their old monitors very cheap to reach 144hz. I bought two such 24 "monitors and paid 50 dollars. :)

One of the LCDs I made, my son uses it as a second monitor.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by mad_ady »

That's a very nice stand!

Well, it may not be worth the trouble for the money, but it pains my heart to throw away a perfectly good (working) piece of hardware. Despite it being obsolete...
I'm guessing this is a bug in my brain...
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by joerg »

I found some photos, but not the ones how I prepared the glass pane. :(

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by istanbulls »

mad_ady wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:04 am
That's a very nice stand!

Well, it may not be worth the trouble for the money, but it pains my heart to throw away a perfectly good (working) piece of hardware. Despite it being obsolete...
I'm guessing this is a bug in my brain...
I share the same feelings as you.
We live in the age of consumption. Everyone thinks we will destroy the world, we are actually destroying ourselves. The world will eventually get rid of us cancerous cells and will live, but our future is unknown. I remember 40-50 years ago, the world is very different from the world today. Everywhere is cars, everywhere, machinery, everywhere is garbage.
Anyway... :)
When I bring things back to life or bring new functionality, I feel like a god. :)
(creator god in all religions but I don't believe in any)

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by L67GS »

I hack/mod/recycle everything I touch. At work I literally get paid to hack and recycle old electronics.
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by mad_ady »

That sounds like a cool job :)

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

joerg wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:49 pm
@domih, I apreciate a lot that you give detailed instruction how to reuse old laptop monitor. I am a big fan of reusing things.
Years ago I made two All-In-One PC with C2: viewtopic.php?f=140&t=19130. The photos are lost because of the forum data loss.
But as I am electronics specialist, it was easy for me and I haven't realized that for others it need detailed instruction how to do this. And of course because my laziness :D.
I would like to rework them, if I could find some 15.4" multitouch panels :(.
Thanks. I read your C2 thread, yep exactly the same story. Sorry for the loss of the pictures.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

mad_ady wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:57 pm
It sounds like a great project, and I have a couple of old laptops around (pushing 15 years of age) that could forego their displays (sadly, low res), but the displays could become excellent photo frames.

The only problem is - rebuilding them in a decent-looking case... I don't have wood/aluminum working skills or tools, and no 3d printer :( Yesterday I needed to attach a 2.5" hdd to a c4 case and resorted to duct tape, like a neandethal... So all my projects though functional/cost effective/fun to build, sadly look like coming out from the junkyard/a steampunk convention. :(

So if you can point me to a course that would teach me how to become a diy artist without all the tools the diyperks guy has, I'd be in your debt...
The first thing you could do is to stop using duct tape. To fix your 2.5" HDD to a case use adhesive Velcro. It won't be visible (hiding between the case and the HDD), if the HDD is a rotating one, it will isolate vibrations from potentially resonating with the case and removing/replacing the disk is non-destructive: it's Velcro! I used Velcro to attach the mesh front panels as well as the electronics in my 3 x H2 white tower. This allows maintenance, removing and replacing the parts with non-destructive steps, eliminate build complexity, eliminate screwing/unscrewing in small places.

Yes, I'm thinking about acquiring a 3D printer from to time to time. But (a) I'm sure there is a learning curve for using one and another learning curve to use 3D design software for designing the required pieces (b) I don't have the room in my current apt. Maybe in the future...

Yes, the DIY Perks guy is from out of space and yes the tools he's using makes me dream especially because many of my tools are in a storage unit right now.

I have some experience making models using paper, wood, plastic, resin but that's about it. It teaches patience and thinking before doing. The rest I learn as it goes.

YouTube has a trove of learning, teaching and how to videos. Example: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... ut+acrylic or https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... wood+boxes. That's the way I go with now, videos tell so much more than 20 pages of a How To book. Before doing a real project, just train yourself on sacrificial pieces of acrylic or wood. When you find a "good" how to video, visit the channel and browse all the videos posted on this channel, if interesting bookmark it. You quickly end up with a library of channels bookmarked in your browser. Then it's mostly about practice.

---

For this project I was thinking about using marine grade plywood (a little bit more "noble" than plywood) but I think I'm gonna punt with one of these:

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=mo ... stand+vesa

It solves all the functional requirements, especially the free standing and adjustable requirements. I can fix the 4 boards (C4 + LCD controller) to a sheet of acrylic. The latter is the one getting attached to the stand. The monitor gets fixed to the sheet of acrylic with... Velcro. Done! From a heat viewpoint it is fine because "there is no case" :-) We'll see. Then again, I can reuse the parts for something else in a non-destructive way :-)

HTH
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

istanbulls wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:40 pm
I have tried this with a few LCDs. I have two monitors that have been working this way for a few years.
Not a sensible cheap solution, it doesn't do much more than keep the old useless LCD alive. (that was my purpose anyway)
$ 20-25 Kit $ 5-7 12v3amp psu and shipping is not a logical cost when you add up.
For the same money in my country, I can buy a used 1080p bigger screen.
A lot of gaming enthusiasts are selling their old monitors very cheap to reach 144hz. I bought two such 24 "monitors and paid 50 dollars. :)

One of the LCDs I made, my son uses it as a second monitor.
Yes, there is that too: the $$$ side of it.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

L67GS wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:29 pm
I hack/mod/recycle everything I touch. At work I literally get paid to hack and recycle old electronics.
Happy man!

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by mad_ady »

Thank you, domith for your tips! I'll look into adhesive velcro!

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

domih wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:06 pm
.../...
For this project I was thinking about using marine grade plywood (a little bit more "noble" than plywood) but I think I'm gonna punt with one of these:

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=mo ... stand+vesa

It solves all the functional requirements, especially the free standing and adjustable requirements. I can fix the 4 boards (C4 + LCD controller) to a sheet of acrylic. The latter is the one getting attached to the stand. The monitor gets fixed to the sheet of acrylic with... Velcro. Done! From a heat viewpoint it is fine because "there is no case" :-) We'll see. Then again, I can reuse the parts for something else in a non-destructive way :-)
.../...
Delivery was quick. Product is of good quality: all the needed parts and screws are there, there is a manual (!) and it is corresponding to the reality (!!), the paint finish is pretty good. Assembly takes < 5 min. So if you are looking for a monitor stand, it is a good one. The "adjustable" feature is real but depends on fastening screws, so not as convenient as the stands coming with brand monitors. The stand is bigger than I thought.

So I just need to find a piece of acrylic (or thin wood) to mount the whole thing now.

stand.png
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by mad_ady »

Looking forward to the finished result!

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

domih wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:32 am
.../...
So I just need to find a piece of acrylic (or thin wood) to mount the whole thing now.
And plywood it will be. Found craft plywood at the neighborhood hardware store. 3mm thick, solid enough for the task at hand. Quality good enough, not generic plywood for wall construction, similar to marine grade in terms of smooth surface. $5.59.

Note: as @istanbulls mentioned, you can get used monitors for almost nothing on for instance eBay (e.g. $50 for a Dell 23" 1920 x 1080), so this HOWTO has become an academic exercise practicing reuse and having fun making stuff. I remember in the 60's we were still repairing shoes and you could use the same pair for 25+ years. Now you buy new shoes once the current pair has reached its programmed obsolescence which is usually irreplaceable soles. Oh boy.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by joerg »

domih wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:32 am
I remember in the 60's we were still repairing shoes and you could use the same pair for 25+ years. Now you buy new shoes once the current pair has reached its programmed obsolescence which is usually irreplaceable soles. Oh boy.
Ha, I gave my winter boots 2 times to the shoemaker. Have them now about 7 years. They are too comfortable to through them away. :)
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by istanbulls »

We are waiting for the result with curiosity :)

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by istanbulls »

Actually I am a tailor, I can design anything and I can sew them.
This is my family business that I learned from my father.
I skimmed and quit in 2008, then entered the Cafe Resturant business. I learned to cook, I made many dishes of my own design.
I'm tired, I'm not doing anything anymore.
When I was making my first marriage in 87, I wanted to have special furniture made, which I designed myself. This process was a little painful when I got married, my furniture was still not finished and I paid half the money. It is really difficult to find honest people in my country.
And I talked to people who would do that job, what should we do?
They used my money for other work and did not have the money to buy materials for my furniture. I guess they saw me as a young and soft person. I bought the materials they needed, took them from their homes in the morning, took them to their atelier, locked the doors and worked with them for 15 days. Both my furniture is finished and I have learned to make furniture.
I made my third marriage 1.5 years ago.
I had 2 new kids that were not mine (11 and 13 years old)
I made them bed and desk shelves cabinets.
Again, I made a lot of solid furniture for the new house.

The things I made were general, my own opinion, I have energy in what I do, I have memories, I have dreams, many of them are valuable from the product I bought.
Fortunately, not everyone is like me, the capitalist system would collapse and this is not a good thing, we are not ready for it. :)))

But I love the things I do, this feeling is more valuable than money.
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For example, I bought a sphere designed for an aquarium. I solder copper wire to them and made a chandelier.
I bought a wifi dimmer from china for $ 10. I control it with a voice and it opens on its own. I set it for the current sunset time.
Wifi Dimmer Switch : https://aliexpress.com/item/33019833834.html

Photos of some of the things I have done are in this file: https://shulashi.tk/s/tapQzat6bKxLZKN

I think I've done too much off topic, sorry for that.
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domih (Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:55 am) • mctom (Sat May 22, 2021 6:26 pm)

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

istanbulls wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 1:01 am
I think I've done too much off topic, sorry for that.
Still about making though. Plenty of beautiful projects :-)
Last edited by domih on Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

Evolution of the project: why use one SBC when you can use four with enough room for two more?

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by mad_ady »

You've seen the "thin bezel" trend in monitors and done a full 180 degrees turn
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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

The trick is to have these SBC correctly setup all the time (while being able to move the thing around) and I'll just need to manually switch the HDMI and tiny USB hub (keyboard and mouse) for immediate use. The SBC are fixed to the front, not in the back. Only the two other boards of the LCD controller will be fixed in the back. Planning to paint the plywood sheet in satin black (to go with the stand). Not planning to use a HDMI + USV KVM: a few of these SBC usually do not work well with cheap KVM and I'm not planning to invest in a good one (> $100).

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

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Work in progress...

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by rooted »

domih wrote:Work in progress...

yapluka.png
That SBC with the massive aluminum mountain must be a Pi?

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

rooted wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:41 am
domih wrote:Work in progress...

yapluka.png
That SBC with the massive aluminum mountain must be a Pi?
Yes. Otherwise throttling occurs as soon as you start to do something consequent. Without the heat sink you can start cooking eggs with your Pi 4. The fan is 5V but 3.3V is enough and makes the fan silent. Pi 4 and C4 provide similar performance but the latter does not need a fan. Pi 4 performance without a heat sink will suffer against a C4. The N2+ leaves both in the dust in a major way. Pi 4 + fan price is equivalent to N2+ price. This means that if you want Pi 4 performance, you better go with a C4, or for about the same price of a non-throttling Pi 4 go with an N2+ for significant more compute power. Obviously this does not stop Pi aficionados to shout to the world that the Pi 4 is the best of the best and has a much larger community. My take on it is that once you reach a certain user base size, there will be a faction starting to build dogmas about the product. Last but not least, the Odroid community (as a whole) is much more technical and sophisticated than the Pi community (as a whole).

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

Work in progress...
Stand articulated arm holes and test done.
Holes for four SBC done.

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Next
Holes for LCD cables and back two LCD controller boards.
3/8" hardwood square dowel assembly to flatten and reinforce the craft plywood.
Sandpapering at 2000 for very soft plywood surface.
Satin black painting.
Fix all boards.
Velcro fix the LCD.
Connect all and try.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by domih »

Work in progress. Kind of slow right now because I'm busy at work. Reinforced the plywood sheet to prevent warping. Just for the ones who want to know how it's done.

Backside views.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

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A little bit of wood filler and initial sanding to make the corners look good enough. Final sanding to be done prior to painting in satin black.

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Re: [HOWTO] Reusing a dead laptop LCD as monitor for your C4

Post by rooted »

Yeah that's looking nice.

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