extending internal flat ribbon connections in laptop

Trying to disassemble a laptop for use in an Arduino project and first thing on the docket is to extend some of the internal connections (so the screen can be farther away from the mainboard, for example).

I've done a little research but have found that things aren't exactly standardized in this regard, does that seem correct? IDE cables are standardized, but the display ribbon connector inside this HP laptop has a 2-row, 23-pin (46 pin total) interface that I can't seem to find easily for purchase.

Here is an image:

The top right speech bubble there is what I'd like to extend.

Also, same problem goes for the keyboard cable which is looks like this:

Any advice is appreciated. I suppose I could always cut 'em up and extend the wires with some solder. Would prefer to do it cleanly.

Do you want the laptop to work after you have done all this? Or are you just taking the parts for a completely different purpose?

I think you can buy connectors that will match those various ends - you will probably need to try some of the bigger component suppliers.


Yes it needs to work, thanks for clarifying question.

If I were to search for these from some large component suppliers, what is a good vocabulary to begin with? What is the first one I asked about called?

The connection to the monitor is extremely high bandwidth. Gigabytes per second. Tiny little imperfections in the cable can disrupt this data. Longer cables may simply not work, even if they are perfect.

If you're willing to experiment, then you'll probably succeed.

The first connector at the top-right looks like a 2-row JST connector. But JST is a very big company that makes thousands of different plugs and sockets. Start your search on your favourite component supplier. I like Mouser but I also use Digi-Key, Farnell and Newark regularly. You will need to know the number of pins, the number of rows and - most importantly - the distance between the pins. Then just search through the pictures.

Unfortunately, none of the online sellers seems to have worked out that the next question after finding a plug is "What socket fits this plug?" I would love a cross-reference to everything that fits each plug. You have to go to the manufacturer datasheet, find the name of the connector "series" and then search again for the socket.

The flat ribbon cable goes into a ZIF (zero insertion force) connector. That has the flat bar which swings down and grips all the contacts, right?

Another option might be to start from a different place. You can get entire PCs on small boards from companies like Toradex and they give you all the data on how to connect to them. Or use a Rasberry PI, if you like Linux.

does that seem correct?

Yup. Laptop interconnects are generally proprietary - they need to be shoehorned into tiny spaces, and the volumes are such that it's not prohibitively expensive to use custom parts (which has the advantage that it makes it hard for people to get replacement parts without going through them - so they can mark up the parts or force you to go through their repair $ervice).

I suppose I could always cut 'em up and extend the wires with some solder.

No you can't. As noted above, that display cable needs to be perfect, it is super sensitive to changes in the cable; it's being driven really aggressively. Getting a cable that will work and be longer, if it's possible, will be a BFD. And the flat flex cables melt if you put a soldering iron to them - though at least in that case, the cables are sort-of-standard. Though if you had to connect to them, you could get the connectors if you could sort out which ones you need; they're all SMD though so you'd need to design a custom circuit board and have it fabricated.

Why the hell are you using a laptop for this instead of a raspberry pi or other hardware-hacker friendly low-end computers?

Thanks much for your time, both of you. Good info, and I'm glad I read it before I started cutting and soldering, heh.

As for the why the heck am I doing this question--art! It's for a piece that would benefit from this kind of deconstructed computer (that is still operational). Sounds like I can't do much about the display cable BUT that flat keyboard cable can probably be extended eh?

Sounds like I can't do much about the display cable

Most laptops can drive an external monitor. Just package one so it has the external appearance of a laptop screen.


That’s a great idea! Thank you