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I have a project in mind where I would like to re-use LCD panels from old monitors to save them from landfills. I'd like to bypass the existing driver and implement my own controller to bypass all of the menus, source control, etc. I know how to drive LCDs on a technical level, but I'm unfamiliar with how standardized their interfaces are in production models. Will panels of the same resolution use the same ribbon cable regardless of brand or make of the monitor, or is there a lot of proprietary stuff going on here? I'd rather not take apart 20 monitors to find out :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Locate part numbers, find their data sheets and look up the info you are likely to need. Then also note that LCDs have a lifespan of 5 years and that means that any product that reuses an old LCD might have a future lifespan of 2 or 3 years. I don't think your bank manager would like your business plan but, maybe you haven't revealed things about your project that change my mind. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Mar 25, 2023 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka Good tip about the lifespan. Should be ok for my application, and I would explicitly market them as being 'upcycled', but certainly something to keep in mind. \$\endgroup\$
    – user175173
    Mar 25, 2023 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ About as standard as the number of monitor sizes there are. \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 25, 2023 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not standard at all. Even two displays of the same size, with apparently similar characteristics, from the same manufacturer, may have different connectors or different pinouts on similar connectors. \$\endgroup\$
    – jcaron
    Mar 25, 2023 at 17:30

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They have single, dual or quad LVDS interface, there's two different bit mappings and two bit depth options. And they may use different supply voltages for driving. And all that is still missing different options for driving the backlight. So no proprietary things, just many differences.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Although everybody calls it LVDS, that's just the physical layer interface. The actual name of the standard is Flat Panel Display Link. \$\endgroup\$
    – user71659
    Mar 27, 2023 at 0:36
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It is a bit standardised, but there are many variations, so much that some incompatibility may result in a non working display, or just fry the power supply (I've seen that).

For protocol, there is mainly LVDS (old) and eDP = embedded DisplayPort (new). High resolution display may need several channels. Some screens have EDID ROMs which allows for auto-detection of the screen geometry.

For backlight, some displays have an internal regulator that drives LED backlight, some have direct connections to the backlight diodes, and some use CCFLs with a separate high voltage regulator.

So, be careful. Having the screen datasheet is far less risky.

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Get onto any Chinese LCD sourcing site, select 20 random LCDs, and download datasheets, that should give you an idea.

While this may vary depending on screen sizes, generations, and original intended use (e.g. laptop screen v. TV v. computer monitor), my limited experience with smaller sizes (around 7 to 10 inches) is that while there is a limited number of “protocols” (e.g MIPI DSI):

  • There are a lot of parameters for the “standard stuff” such as number of channels and lanes;
  • There’s a lot more variation when it comes to the signals relating to backlights;
  • Even if the signals are all exactly the same, the actual pinout may vary a lot (number of connectors, number of pins, order of pins…).

Even when looking at two screens from the same manufacturer, for the same size, with apparently close characteristics, you can end up with completely different pinouts.

So while you can certainly design a board for each of those displays, you are probably going to have a hard time having a single board which is able to drive a large variety of different displays, even if it’s just a matter of changing the pinout and nothing else (and given trace length and other requirements for LVDS, this is not always trivial).

Unless you find a source of many displays of the exact same model, or the displays all use an interface which is more strictly defined (e.g. eDP), it’s probably going to be quite difficult.

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