I'm trying to find out if it is possible to send video to a cell phone screen (just the screen, not the phone) like this one from something like a video-mp3 player or even from maybe a mac-mini, or something simpler like a microcontroller with the video stored on an SD card perhaps. Additionally, if it is possible, how would I go about doing something like that?

It doesn't necessarily have to be a cell phone screen, but it needs to be around that size, with a very dense resolution for its size. This is why a cell phone screen seems optimal for the job. I've been trying to find other alternatives, but the screens from hobby electronics sites fro things like the Arduino seem to be very small resolution and low color depth (ie 8 bit).

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    \$\begingroup\$ In general, yes. The main problem here is actually finding datasheets for the screens. Some of them are well documented through official datasheets or reverse engineering, but I can't provide any model numbers right now. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Feb 7 '12 at 23:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ google.com/search?q=sparkfun.com+nokia \$\endgroup\$ – Brad Gilbert Feb 8 '12 at 1:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ As Andreja says, in principle yes but these things are hard enough to get going with the datasheet :-) If it's a common enough controller IC you could probably get hold of the datasheet for that - the trouble is they can be set up in different ways so you might need to examine the traces to check hows it's being used (not easy with such tiny components) If you specify your minimum resolution and screen size there are a few cheapish options I know of that might be of interest. \$\endgroup\$ – Oli Glaser Feb 8 '12 at 4:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Minimum resolution might be around 480 X 640 and max screen size is 8 inches. There is no minimum screen size. \$\endgroup\$ – JonathonG Feb 8 '12 at 4:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JonathonG - Here is one that may be of interest: £70, 7", 800 x 480 - SDT070TFT If you can lower your resolution a bit here is another much cheaper option: £25, 4.3", 480 x 272 - NHD-4.3-480272MF-ATXI#-1 \$\endgroup\$ – Oli Glaser Feb 8 '12 at 8:38

One of the most popular items on Sparkfun is 128x128 Nokia Color LCD screen. The protocol has been reverse engineered by various people and libraries made for Arduino and other platforms.

In general, if the screen has only a few pins, it's likely to have a built-in LCD controller and use SPI or I2C for the protocol. Such protocols are usually not very hard to RE if you have the original hardware it worked with.

On the other hand, if it exposes some tens of pins like for example the PSP LCD, it usually requires a dedicated external controller and might even use LVDS or other complicated signaling. Such screens are not a good choice for small microcontrollers.

A lot of LCDs are available on eBay, see for example this store.


My understanding is that practically all cell phone screens have far fewer pixels than full 640x480 VGA resolution. So if that's your minimum resolution, you're forced to use something other than a cell phone screen.

Even the LCD you mentioned has a slightly lower resolution of 640×360 pixel (based on one definition of "pixel"). Alas, my brief bit of googling failed to even bring up the manufacturer and manufacturer's part number of that screen, much less any datasheets or other interface information.

In principle, with a lot of patience and the right tools (oscilloscope, logic analyzer, etc.) and a willingness to destroy a few devices during the experiment, it's possible to reverse engineer just about any working piece of electronics.

In practice, as Oli Glaser mentioned, getting devices working even with a datasheet in hand is hard enough. In practice, most cell phone screens are so poorly documented that it seems (relatively) much easier to switch to using one of the few well-documented cell phone screens, such as:

1-bit color 240x64 pixels graphic LCD screen with Toshiba T6963 controller http://code.google.com/p/arduino-t6963c/

12-bit color 128x128 pixel screens used on the Nokia 6100 phone, the Nokia 2600 phone (and others). http://arduino.cc/playground/Code/LCDPCF8833 http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Use-a-Nokia-Color-LCD/

12-bit color 128x128 3V Epson Nokia phone LCD http://arduino.cc/playground/S1D15G10NokiaLCD/S1D15G10NokiaLCD

18-bit color 319x239 pixel screen "SmartGPU" http://arduino.cc/playground/SmartGPU/SmartGPU

320*240 graphic LCD http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/320240-graphic-lcd-w-touch-screen-and-hw-accel-p-147.html

Related: Easily controlled color LCD for hobby projects?


There is a very interesting example here: pcbheaven. The instructor guide us in the process from scratch when you have just found a cool LCD screen in an old trunk. I will recommend to you since I watched all the videos and they were very nice and easy to understand.


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