First of all this project was not my idea to begin with. I was inspired by DIY Perk's, a Youtuber that consistently makes great and simple techy projects. Although the projects take some high level understanding of electronics you do not need any sort of engineering calculations or embedded systems style coding to get on his projects right away. Super cool channel.
The main idea is that you can take an old laptop monitor, connect an external controller and use it as a portable monitor. Really all you need to do is make some casing for it, and make it look nice. Compared to DIY Perk's version of this project, I have made a couple small adjustments. The first is a thinner mounting board, and the second is separating the controller into a box that doubles as a stand with the addition of a more robust hinge.
- Hack saw
- Coarse wood file
- Cordless drill
- 1/2'' countersink
- 4.2mm drill
- 3.2mm drill
- 2x Clamps
- Gorilla glue
Note that I used Amazon prices, since they are maybe only 10-15% pricier than Ebay, but have 2 day shipping and hassle free refunds. You can get things cheaper on Ebay, but I like Amazon better since their customer service is faster/better imo.
- Salvage laptop screen (this is the one I used) FREE
- Note that if you buy this, it is the most expensive part of the build ($70)
- Carbon fiber vinyl wrap ($8)
- 12V 3A wall adapter ($10)
- Note that 12V 3A is much more than sufficient the reason this was used is due to many supplies falsely advertised, I have used down to 1.5A with no problems on a 17.3'' 1080p display
- Plastic adjustable hinge ($12)
- Display controller ($30)
- Note that if you are salvaging a display, make sure that you buy the corresponding controller that is compatible, the seller can tell you whether they are compatible most of the time
- 2ft x 2ft 1/8 fiberboard panel
- Screen protector ($7)
Build Time: Approximately 3 hours after drafting
The first thing to do is simply test the controller and monitor.
The steps are very simple:
- Connect the LCD to the controller
- Connect laptop to the controller via HDMI, DVI or VGA
- Connect 12VDC to the 2.1mm jack
If you really can't get it to work, that's where Amazon is great and you can return stuff/get new stuff really fast. I had no issues personally.
Note: Although there is a button panel that can be used to turn the monitor on and off, as well as change its settings connecting power will automatically allow detection of the monitor. This allows you to calibrate the monitor to the settings you desire and remove the button panel, thus reducing the size of the build. Truthfully the size of the panel is non-issue. I just thought it looked really bad, and didn't feel like making my own since I never use it on legit monitors anyway.
As mentioned before, my design is slightly modified to have a thinner monitor backboard since I felt that 1/4'' MDF was unnecessarily strong. I used a 1/8'' MDF panel for the backboard.
Design thought: Solid mechanics tells us that 2nd moment of area a grows with the cubic height dimension of a rectangular piece. Although this is not a single material the result is that stiffness is greatly improved with the backboard simply due to the thickness being increased roughly 50%.
Upon holding the 1/8'' MDF with the screen on top and flexing it slightly, it was easy to see that the thickness added sufficient strength. Thus I decided to proceed with the build.
The main idea of the build is shown in the picture to the right
- The assembly is kept light with 1/8'' MDF
- Aesthetically pleasing since the screen is kept thin
- A simple and robust hinge allows the stand to collapse into the main body's footprint
- The PCB "box" doubles as a stand so that no extraneous parts are necessary
- The box only really has a top and a bottom separated by standoffs (not shown in the picture)
- Easy to create since all cuts are straight lines, most piece being rectangular
Note: Although it is definitely possible to make much fancier geometry with a hacksaw or other tools it becomes very hard to use the vinyl wrap to give the whole thing a polished look.
If you have access to a laser cutter, much better looking designs can be made obviously. However, the problem of wrapping edges of the board with vinyl still appears. Thus, material removal points must be added if you decide to go that route.
- Cut MDF to rough size
- Drill screw holes and countersink for screw heads
- Dry fit before vinyl layup
Once the main MDF has been cut to accommodate cables, countersinks must be drilled out for M4 bolts to be used for the hinge. In my build there is a added MDF panel to spread the load where the hinge attaches to LCD backboard.
A section view of the model is below to show the intention. The result in real life is also shown. Basically everywhere there are heads screws, I countersunk the holes.
Design thought: Generally speaking flat head screws aren't good since they strip easily, but on wood this isn't an issue since the panel will break much before the screws. Flat heads are nice for portable things because there wont be anything catching on the screw heads
Since cutting the pieces is pretty self explanatory