Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display Mod

Posted by: primusluta

Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display Mod - 11/18/05 04:32 AM

Okay folks. I've done quite a bit of research on this, and everyone seems to believe it's possible but I've yet to find anyone who's done it. Most site the cost as being the primary factor (i.e. costs more than it's worth), but for the Mod project I'm working on I can see no better way.

The overall project is a Desk mod and included in it is taking my old TIBook display and imbedding it into the desk. My TI book is shot due to a logic board issue, but not related to the display, so I think I have a lot of the parts I'll need once I take it a part. My goal is to gut the TIBook save for what I need to make the display work and use the case as a storage drawer with the screen still attached to flip up from the desk.

I'm beginning the project the weekend after thanksgiving and shooting to have it completed by Christmas. What do I need to prep, buy beforehand?
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display Mod - 11/18/05 07:43 AM

You should start by reading everything you can find about how graphics cards work. There are two ways of doing this I can think of which are technically simpler than having to design your own VGA to LCD converter and write drivers for it:

One way is to find a model of standalone LCD which uses the exact same panel as yours (or one which is pin-compatible with it), find an example of that standalone monitor with a busted panel, then the rest is simple enough.

The other is to get a standalone monitor with a vaguely simlar panel in terms of size, resolution and age (and preferably manufacturer), then find out the pinouts for the panel in that one, find the pinouts of your PowerBook panel, then build a converter which wires the correct pins from your panel to the VGA/DVI board from the standalone. This one is a bit tougher.

Both of these rely on finding quite specific hardware which may or may not even exist. Not an easy task at all....
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display Mod - 11/21/05 05:55 AM

So how would I determine the make of my screen. Will that info be readily available once I gut the machine? Is it based on model number. I've got the 500mhz TiBook with the ethernet. Are there no documents online about the pinouts for screens?
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 11/21/05 06:40 AM

unfortunately you are entering a world of unknown for the modding community. I have never heard or seen this done. That is not to discourage you or even say it can't be done. Someone has to be the first!
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 11/21/05 06:53 AM

You will need to remove the panel from the titanium screen housing. Its probably a samsung or a Philips/LG panel. There should be a label on it which will be fairly obvious once you remove it. Be careful if you want to put the titanium back on for any reason. The display module is glued together, and if you bend any of the titanium in the process of taking it off, you will never get it straight again.
Posted by: TCPMeta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 11/21/05 09:58 AM

Well the LCD is made by a 3rd party so you can hassle them for the pinout and such. Yet like we all have said it's just cheaper to buy a LCD desktop monitor. The parts you need will be hard. You might have to fabercate them your self. All what's really missing is the Graphics Arrray Controller (GAC) to the LCD. Sadly they're built into the logic board or intergrated in the Video core.

I've seen a similer mod done before on building a video display into a desk but this was before LCDs. A friend of mine built a desk out of real wood. Not that partical board crud. It came out real nice, he even added some black laminit on the top to make it more flashie lol. In the end though the desk's weight was 200lbs.
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 11/22/05 02:04 AM

Not that cost isn't a factor but, let's just say I'm determined. A friend of mine is pretty sure he can convert the existing ports on the powerbook as an input for the screen so long as the video connections to the logic board are intact. I'm not sure if this is possible or not. I guess we'll just have to pop it open and see.
Posted by: TCPMeta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 11/22/05 06:53 AM

Well I wish you luck on this mod.
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/01/05 10:58 AM

Okay folks. With a little help I've gutted my TiBook to find out what screen I've got. It's a LG Phillips LCD LP152W1 (A1AP). It's not the flat wire but loose ones. All the connections are still good. So now I need to find or make the converter. Any suggestions on where I can either purchase the converter or the parts to make one?
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/01/05 12:36 PM

as far as I know there is no converter and I don't think there is a guide either for the wiring. You are going to need to do some research and testing I guess.
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/01/05 01:24 PM

So a little research tells me I'm looking for an LVDS adapter as this is the main connection to my lcd.
Posted by: TJH

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/01/05 02:25 PM

The problem isn't just getting a connector. The "converter" you talk about is the problem here: each normal LCD (not in laptops) has a controller that converts the display signals from the computer into the horizontal and vertical coordinates of each pixel, turning it on or off accordingly. In laptops the controller is not there as the computer is designed to talk directly to that specific LCD to save space and simplify design. Therefore to run the LCD on another computer you need a special customized controller to run it. There are of course companies willing to do this, but cost is prohibitive here: we're talking at least $200 for the controller itself, plus the cost of development etc.

Your best bet would be to find some retail LCD display that uses that panel but in which the LCD is broken and steal the controller.

Read this if none of what I just wrote made any sense: http://www.applefritter.com/holygrail


I did read some where a while ago about a standard motherboard, or maybe PCI expansion card, that had an LVDS out, which I guess could be able to talk directly to the LCD. (I'll try and find that link)
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/01/05 02:39 PM

Okay, I'm not just being cheap. I want this specifically. I don't want to buy a new monitor. I'm willing to shell out for a converter. Where do I get one built.
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/01/05 02:45 PM

Am I looking for something like this http://store.earthlcd.com/s.nl/sc.7/category.255/it.A/id.3177/.f
Posted by: TJH

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 01:01 AM

Yup, that is what you're looking for. I'd give them a call to see if they have anything that is specifically specified as compatible with your LCD.

There are probably other stores too with other controllers. All that I've heard of though is Earth LCD as when I was researching doing this with an old PB LCD the project came to a dead end when my dog sat on the screen :pinch:

Anyone else know of any controller suppliers?
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 02:19 AM

I just sent them an email. I'm wondering if I need a kit, or if, with the controller I can get the rest of what I need elsewhere for cheaper.
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 06:35 AM

Pretty sure LVDS is a general term. There is no such thing as an LVDS to DVI or VGA adaptor. All PowerBooks and iBooks have an LVDS cable. They are of course all different.
I think all LVDS cables use pretty much the same pins (R, G, B, etc), just not in the same order. And of course not necessarily the same voltages etc.

You might have some joy determining the pinouts of your particular controller/GPU with a simple multimeter. An oscilloscope would be better I suspect. To get the R G B pins, it might help to have a program which can display red, blue and green screens for you. A red screen should give little or no signal on the green and blue pins. Just a thought.

I still wonder if laptops with the same GPU will have interchangeable LCDs. I suspect this is not the case. G3 Pismo PowerBooks used two different panels which had different cables. iBooks are even worse. There are dozens of diferent logic board, display cable and LCD variants used in white iBooks. Apple will generally not provide you with any of these parts unless you provide an appropriate serial number (and often an EEE code too). I was told they weren't all compatible, but it occurs to me that Apple would know which serial used which logic board without needing an EEE code if it weren't for the iBook logic replacement program which has seen some iBooks go through three or more boards. So some of them must be interchangeable.

I expect you're beginning to see the magnitude of this problem.

You might consider posting ads at your local universities. Maybe you can find a talented electrical engineering student who is strapped for cash.
Posted by: Antonio

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 07:27 AM

Waragainstsleep wrote:
Quote:
. G3 Pismo PowerBooks used two different panels which had different cables.


Not quite. Both the LG and Samsung displays use the same cables and connectors. I just replaced my Samsung with an LG, and used the stock cable. Everything fit just fine, and it's the same for the Lombard.

As for the iBooks, it depends on the revision. Displays between two of the same revision will interchange just fine, and even between a revision or two in some cases.

The pismos all use the same set up. I've owned five of 'em smile
Posted by: TJH

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 07:33 AM

primusluta wrote:
Quote:
I just sent them an email. I'm wondering if I need a kit, or if, with the controller I can get the rest of what I need elsewhere for cheaper.


I think you need one of the "naked kits", like the one you linked to which includes the LCD Controller, Power Inverter, Cables, and Drivers.

The controller you definitely need. The power inverter I am almost positive is to control the backlight, which you could probably source from somewhere else more cheaply, or supply power to the backlight independently and maybe save a bit of money. Cables, looks like one for power to the inverter board, one for power to the LCD, maybe something else (in the picture it is sort of hard to tell), and a VGA cable. Definitely need the power to the LCD. VGA cable you probably don't need and could source elsewhere. And lastly Drivers, which assuming they use fairly generic components etc. probably aren't 100% needed. (I doubt they offer OSX drivers anyway, and a VGA device would most likely be recognized.)

So overall if they're willing to just sell you the controller (assuming they have one that will specifically work with the LCD you have) you may be able to save a bit of money, but then the extra shipping from different places comes into account too...
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 08:17 AM

I knew the Pismo and Lombard panels were interchangeable. I've changed a few without really looking at the parts too closely and never had a problem. But they have different part numbers for the two Pismo cables. No idea why. And even when the two different parts are the same price, Apple make a big fuss about getting the right one.

With the iBooks, I mention them only because there are models with the same size and spec panel and graphics card which cannot be swapped. It amazes me that Apple and their LCD suppliers would make more work for themselvesthis way. But it seems they do.
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 08:25 AM

So if I understand correctly it's possible that with the earth converter i'll end up having to change the pinouts to match what i've got coming from my screen. In the midst of my search last night i'm pretty sure I found someone who had the cable order for the lvds from my screen so aside from the actual labor this shouldn't be too difficult.
Posted by: TJH

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/02/05 08:36 AM

primusluta wrote:
Quote:
So if I understand correctly it's possible that with the earth converter i'll end up having to change the pinouts to match what i've got coming from my screen. In the midst of my search last night i'm pretty sure I found someone who had the cable order for the lvds from my screen so aside from the actual labor this shouldn't be too difficult.


No, there is no need for you to change any pinouts. If the controller is compatible with your screen, then it is compatible, no changing around of wires or anything like that.
Posted by: primusluta

Re:Mission Impossible: PB Display to Ext Display M - 12/08/05 05:37 AM

Well I talked to earth and they said they don't have a converter for my screen. Which has me back at the drawing table. I've searched and cannot find any regular monitors that use the LG/Phillips screen I've got. And haven't found any other place that does converters. I've prepared myself for plan B which would be to get a working logic board of eBay, but if anyone has any other solutions please let me know.