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A project log for All About Laptop Display Reuse

LVDS, eDP, connectors and controllers - let's learn it all

ArsenijsArsenijs 06/14/2021 at 11:570 Comments

I'm building this project as a knowledge database, complemented with a 0% to 100% guide for laptop display reuse. I want to take everything I know about this topic, lay it out somewhere, add new research where needed, and provide assistance to people in our project's chatroom. I'm also using this project to help me introspect and take notes on my own ability to follow the goals I set for myself - what helps me put ongoing effort into projects, when do I pause it, and once I do, how and when do I resume it?

Over the next X months, I'll be adding information on topics I've already achieved things in during the past years:

I'd also like to work on the topics that I haven't yet worked on or that are more technical, like LVDS and eDP internals, term disambiguation, TTL to LVDS conversion nuances, different controllers' power requirements, managing high-speed LVDS/eDP interface and CCFL noise in your projects, and how to securely mount a laptop display so that its brittle parts are protected from the harsh reality of the outside world.

Along the way, I will be assembling lists of information and projects, for instance, a list of all the commonly available LVDS and eDP controllers, their nuances and parameters, links to interesting projects where the "laptop LCD reuse" aspect really shines, others' blog posts with insights into i.e. the technical side of LVDS/eDP or other things I can't cover or won't have time to cover myself.

One of my endgoals, apart from completing this knowledge database, is filming a video, about 10-20 minutes long: "How to reuse a laptop display - from start to finish". While I'll be working on guide articles, such as this WIP one, I can imagine a video reaching as many people as possible. This would be a decent way to help people understand the whole reuse thing, especially those people who are better at following videos than they are at following text guides.

I will also be buying controllers and parts from eBay and other places for research purposes.

For instance, there's a way to reflash the popular "universal" LVDS and eDP controllers into different resolutions and modes. There's cheap 1080p-configured controllers ($13/pcs) available online, however, controllers for the more abundant and cheap 768p panels use the same hardware, yet are listed at $20 and higher. I want to eventually buy one-two of the 768p controllers and dump the 768p firmware off them, so that people can buy cheaper 1080p controllers and reflash them into 768p controllers, saving quite a bit of money.

There's also $25 programmer boards, with some kind of application-specific USB dongle, that allow you to update M.NT68676 boards, flashing firmwares with different resolution. My research shows that even the MT6820 board might be reflashable this way, which would make my MT6820 firmware experiments a lot more useful all of a sudden!

I'm certain the firmware update protocol is easy to replicate with a Raspberry Pi, however, I don't yet have the dongle so that I could sniff the protocol. However, one of these months, I'll invest into buying one of these boards, for sure =)

Every month, I'm buying one-two different controllers so that I can check them out, see if I can recommend them, and measure their power requirements. I will also be looking into easily-reusable and cheap display assemblies so that people can build portable touchscreen monitors on a budget and with a low entry level.

As someone who develops and orders PCBs on the regular, I will be inevitably developing and selling laptop-screen-reuse-oriented PCBs. For instance, it makes sense that one should be able to easily reuse eDP laptop LCDs by connecting them to a DisplayPort-equipped PC, as the interfaces are electrically compatible - resulting in a screen that's low-power and low-cost. However, this would require a small adapter board to be designed and made, and funnily enough, there isn't one on eBay or Tindie yet, so I will be working on designing one and attempting to produce them as cheaply as possible so that people can reuse their eDP displays on a budget.

After this project is reasonably completed, I might look into duplicating the materials to some sort of wiki and setting it up so that it can be community-edited and improved. For now, the HaD project format fits it reasonably well =)

Interested in working with me on some of these goals, or complementing the project in some way? Join me, there's a button somewhere above on the main project page =)

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