Interfacing with Laptop LCD monitors?

I have some spare Compaq M-700 laptops that are no longer needed. I would like to detach the screens from them and use them for an Arduino project. Has anyone figured out how to interface to something like this?

Thanks, HFF

There's a few problems here. Those monitors are VGA or higher meaning they need a special controller board to run because the Arduino doesn't even come close to having enough balls to run one itself. In the laptop, it's built into the main board meaning you don't have easy access to that. Non OE controllers are going to be really cost prohibitive.

If you find a cheap controller, I wish you all the luck :)

Has anyone figured out how to interface to something like this?

Install Linux on them, and run Processing :)

Seriously: as quadmasta pointed out, they have a complex interface that needs lots of CPU power and memory. Just think of them as coming complete with a free "serial LCD backpack" board, keyboard, and sound generator. Maybe even a free Ethernet card.

The only thing I have done with laptop displays before is remove the backlight tube (for general lighting) and if you put power through random LCD pins then you can make some trippy patterns :)

The amount of times this question gets asked though. Basically the answer is no. ;)


Thanks everyone for your input. I'm relatively new to the arduino world but enjoying the learning experience.

I asked because I was hoping that the laptop manufacturers had settle on some standard with regard to interfacing with the displays but apparently this is not the case.

My highest regards, HFF

yea they actually have, to make every single one totally different and bury the lcd controller onto the motherboard of whatever it is they are attached to

Yea its a shame they are such a pita, there are so many still working but useless laptops in the world (like my 8mb pentium 90 thats holding down the desk at my parents garage)

Oh, there are some fairly-loose standards for interfacing, but they're pretty complex from an Arduino point of view. Every single pixel you see on the screen gets clocked out through a shift-register-like interface, by a graphics chip on the motherboard that's much more powerful than a little ATMega. And that chip has access to anywhere from scores of kilobytes (in early laptops) to hundreds of megabytes (in the latest high-end ones) of RAM.

I'm going to jump in on this one. The LCD's are controlled over LVDS as everyone else has pointed out, it's a complex system to transmit rapidly all of the data to the display. LVDS is kinda standardized, to the point where you can find the chip on the back of the monitor and usually dig up a datasheet and figure out what you need to send it to get things displayed.

That said, Arduinos are no where near fast enough to do this. You need an FPGA and a lot of time to build your own interface:

Looks like you can't really do it then, but if their broken you could always use the touch pad, speakers, disk drive motor, tons of buttons and probably other parts for a different project, And if their still working you might as well sell them and buy more shields and components with the money !