Jun 162016
Full HD screen 32 bucks

My Dell Studio 1557 laptop died some time back in early 2014. It started conking out a few months earlier, but I managed to “heat-gun” the GPU into submission and it worked for a few more months. My wife had an identical machine, bought at the same time, which lasted a year longer.

So we had these two dead Dells with lovely, flawless 15.6 inch full HD, low-power screens in the loft, waiting to be targeted for termination. I’d wondered for a while about getting a driver board and seeing if I could re-use them. But back in October 2015 I actually did it. As soon as I’d made it work for one, I ordered a second board, with the intention of making a video about it.

I managed to finally get ‘a round tuit’ yesterday. And I put it together live on camera, just so that you can all see how easy it was.

Here’s the Video

The driver board I bought came from Ali Express. It’s no longer available, but I’m sure you could find one if you wanted to. In any case, your LCD will probably be a different part number.

There is a Risk it Might Not Work

But in my case, it was definitely worth the ‘punt’. I now have 2 gorgeous 15.6″ Full HD displays that I paid $32 each for. I also have a friend with a similar Dell that died, so I scrounged that too. So there’s potentially going to be a third one.

Lots of people throw away dead laptops now, but often the screens are perfectly fine. If you want to bag yourself a gorgeous screen for your Raspberry Pi, DSLR, Video camera or any other computer I’d recommend you give it a shot. Do be aware that you are not guaranteed a result (that’s why I bought one driver board first, then another when I knew it worked).

This is something I did that brought me a lot of pleasure and I regularly use one of these in my workshop as a video monitor and with Raspberry Pi. So I thought I’d share it with the world. If it works out for you, you can really get an awful lot of screen for your money. Certainly more than any screen you can buy new.

My first 15.6" Full HD screen hangs from a shelf as video monitor

My first 15.6″ Full HD screen hangs from a shelf as video monitor

Also, be aware that you will have to either sort out your own case or frame for it. For us hacker types that can often be a plus rather than a minus. I just kept the really useful mounting frame on the LCD and hung it from a shelf at the perfect height for my use.

If you decide to try this for yourself, come back and leave a comment to tell us how it worked out for you.

  47 Responses to “Make A Full HD 15.6 inch Screen for $32 for your Raspberry Pi, DSLR or Video Camera”

  1. “… HDMI lead *oww* ”

    Alex injures himself for the benefit of SCIENCE.

  2. Never knew ther would be a board to drive bare LCDs. I always assumed they absolutely needed their laptop in order to work. Now I may finally find a use for this old PowerBook G4 that refuses to work!

  3. Great idea, Alex, and one which I will certainly follow up.

  4. Any chance there are boards available for dead, outdated tablets…have a LePan (DOA gift) that has a nice display, if I could use it.

  5. I wish I had a laptop that was just dead enough for me to try this!

    Great tutorial, I’d always wondered how simple a project like this would be.

  6. Hi Alex. Are the displays you used LED backlit? I have an older Dell 17″ 1920×1200 which I replaced the screen on, and that had a separate small inverter board for the backlight control using the older fluorescent type backlight. Higher voltages and the driver dimming ended up reversed but still functional. I’m guessing this older type display is probably not as easily re used.

    • Yes. We originally spent the extra fur the low power model with WLED s they were used for 12+ hours per day. Over the life of the machine that saves a lot of electricity.

  7. Hey boss, you might be enthusiastic to know that if your laptop screen had a webcam that device, is USB and will also work with you PI. (you might have to figure out the pin out, but if you identify GND, you should be clear on smoking it)

  8. Can I use the screen of my EEE PC 701 for my Raspberry Pi?

  9. There are other boards out there that work with tv’s you just flash them using usb and most likely have to rewire the lvdi cable according to spec sheet of lcd. And a few extra wires for turning lcd backlight on.

  10. Any tutorial from old macbook pros (intel not unibody) screens?

  11. Hmmm, I wonder if you could do this the “other way around” and simply swap out the laptop’s (dead) motherboard for a Raspberry Pi (Zero?) and screen driver board? :-)
    (and possibly a voltage regulator to the battery, and a driver / adaptor board for the laptop’s keyboard and touchpad…)

    Like Wayne, I don’t have any dead hardware to play with myself!

  12. I just ordered an adapter for a Samsung Laptop display. $25 shipped!

  13. I wonder if there is a way to do this with a flat panel TV that has a bad mother board…. Would be great to use a large flat panel TV with a Pi the same as you have done with this laptop screen…..

  14. Thanks Alex, that’s a great one !
    Got an old screen laying around here – will give it a try now :-)

  15. I wanted to do this for so long. Here, in France, I did not find this information.
    Thank you.

  16. I buy my LCD driver boards from njytouch on eBay. I’ve been able to resurrect over nine monitors since 2010 with bad power supplies (after replacing bad caps) simply because it was too expensive to replace them with new monitors.

    The best way to find your board is to email them with the make and model number of the LCD screen. This is located on the back of the panel itself requiring removal from the laptop case. As long as the back lights are good these guys will work great for those unused/unusable laptops.

  17. Thanks for the tutorial. To bad i cant find a driver board for an lg lp156wh1. Or they are sold out or they wont ship to Belgium.

  18. Excellent video, I´ll have to try it out myself. I do have a pair of old laptops that actually are working but they are 8 years old. I am curious to see if there are controllers for them. It would be really nice if there was controllers for laptop keyboards as well, then I would chuck out the motherboard and mount the Raspberry Pi inside one of the old and rather fat laptops.
    I must really do some googling here… Do you have any tip about what poweradapter to use or is there a manual with the driverboard? One really need to know the voltage required and wether + or – is on the middle pin.

    Anyway, I really was inspired after watching your video, great work!

    With regards

    Stefan from Sweden :)

    • Each one is potentially different, but generally speaking a 1-2A PSU with 12V centre positive barrel connector will suffice. But you should check with the specific model you are ordering.

  19. You must realize there is software to manage the speed of your laptop fans. try this http://download.cnet.com/SpeedFan/3000-2094_4-10067444.html I have a Mac and discovered that it was overheating so I looked and found SMC Fan Control. It works.

    • It’s more than a fan speed issue with the Dells though. It’s a design issue. The fans were often running at full tilt, but the design does not allow enough cooling. Most of the decent high-end laptops now have a metal body which acts as one big heatsink. Much better design.

  20. I was inspired by your video and having a dead (motherboard) HP DV6 laptop in the cupboard, I followed your instructions and now have a working 15.6″ screen. I ordered the driver board from Ali-Express and it arrived today with no damage. Plugged it up, powered up with a spare 12v adapter and BINGO, worked first time. My menu came up in English too. :-) Next job is to make a stand to hold screen, boards and PI. Thanks for the video and great simple instructions.

  21. What about the small-scale direction? Do you think there might be a way to get the screen from a dead smartphone to be the display for a Raspberry Pi?

  22. Hi, thanks for the tutorial. I have 3 old laptops sitting around that I couldn’t bring myself to throw out (All seem to have overheating issues and will power up for short time and then fall over). I knew there must have been a way to utilise the screen but hadn’t done any research.

    So, recently purchased a RaspPi3 and then caught your tutorial. Thought I would try the old Acer Aspire 3624WXCI laptop. It’s not a HD screen but it was always a nice screen, 14.1″ wxga resolution.

    Anyway, checked eBay and found a driver board and power supply. Tried it out tonight and all worked perfectly although only 2/3 of the screen was being used. But I remember when scouring the forums at Raspberrypi.org there was a forum on adjusting the pi for different screen resolutions. That will be another night. Oh, and get the menu to English as well.

  23. How lucky was I to find your video! I ordered the driver board from VS Display HongKong via Amazon on 22 August. It arrived today (31 August). Found a power supply, plugged into Pi and it works, even already set to English menu and apparently correct display resolution. This was using the display from yet another dead Dell Inspiron. Thank you very much for the excellent tutorial!

  24. Loved this video. Great bit of ingenuity. I’ve been trying to work out how to make a light video display for show casing menus and food at a restaurant I work in. Thought that the only option was an iPad Pro 12 inch as it has the necessary high lumens required and is light weight enough. But pricey. I’m now looking at incorporating This idea into the mix and was speaking to the local cnc, 3D printing, laser cutting community about creating a casing for such an idea. Still looking for the ideal screen with the brightest lumens possible. First day on the hunt. Cheers…

  25. Thank you so much for this great tutorial.

    I have a laptop LCD screen, (model #: N156HGE-LB1, Rev. C1). It is originally designed for HP ENVY Touchsmart Ultrabook m5 laptop. The screen is a touch screen.

    I am looking for an “LCD Controller Board Driver kit” that 100% compatible with the LCD touch screen I mentioned above. I looked up on Ebay and found the proper controller board that fits my LCD screen. My question is, will the touch functionality of the screen be working well with the controller?

    By the way, asking the sellers on Ebay does not make me feel confident, because I am afraid that seller want just to sell their products.

  26. Thanks Alex, following a lead from Pimoroni I followed your video, ordered the controller board and now 11 days after ordering (not bad from China) it has turned up. I plugged it all in and worked first time, I now have an old Acer display running off my RaspPi 2 – brilliant!

  27. Hi Alex! Nice job :) I was wondering if I can do the same as you have done, and make it all run on a battery pack. Essentially a non-touch tablet. Hoping to make one for an exhibition where I will be running a video work for 6 hours straight… From what I gather these screen runs on 12V? Is this possible to make? All the best, Thomas

    • No reason why you shouldn’t be able to run it on a battery pack as long as you can find one that suits your needs. A 3 cell lithium pack would have about the right voltage for a 12V screen driver.

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