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Dual (portable) monitor T480s DIY (applicable to T450-T480, T450-T480, X1C, etc)

T430 and later, plus T530 and later series specific matters only
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Dual (portable) monitor T480s DIY (applicable to T450-T480, T450-T480, X1C, etc)

#1 Post by iamdmc » Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:26 pm

Having recently completed my [FHD-to-QHD upgrade](https://old.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comme ... pplies_to/) I decided that rather than re-sell the FHD screen, why not re-use it as an external monitor?

What you'll need:

* about $50
* some patience
* an eDP to HDMI LCD driver board (best source IMHO is eBay for ~$20
* a 5V DC to 12V DC USB step-up converter cable from (again, best source is eBay for ~$3) to convert the 5V output from your USB 3.0 port to 12V 2.5mm x 5.5mm port required to power the LCD driver board
* a slim HDMI cable between 30cm and 50cm in length depending on your need ~$3 on eBay
* a used T450/60/70/80(s) LCD lid/housing (optional, but recommended) for ~$25
* some electrical tape to hold things in place

Simple steps:

1. Take the LCD panel and connect the eDP-to-eDP flat ribbon cable into it, with the other end connecting to the LCD driver board
2. Install the LCD panel into the LCD housing from the T450/60/70/80(s). Screw in and place the bezel 'sticker' over it
3. Plug in the HDMI cable to the LCD driver board and your laptop (mine was T480s)
4. Plug in the USB 5V-12V step up cable USB-end into your laptop, and the 2.5mm x 5.5mm into the driver board
4b (optional). You can power the display using an external USB powerbank, as long as the output current is greater than 1A.
5. Press "power" button on driver board, and adjust the settings to your heart's and eyes' content. Enjoy!


* although the descriptions you get from the LCD driver boards say you need to use a 240V AC-to-12V DC power converter/adapter that outputs 2-3A, the power draw of the FHD screen from my T480s was 6W maximum, measured at the socket, translating to 0.5A at 12V (assuming the impossible 100% efficiency). Allowing for 10% inefficiency (and possibly more) of the conversion, that drops to 0.45A at 12V, which is **1.08A at 5V** - slightly over the 1A spec that USB 3.0 is designed to output, but somehow it still works. I have a USB multitool coming in the post, and will test the ACTUAL power draw. My gut is telling me it's closer to 5W than 6W using DC-to-DC, which would be a perfect 1A at 5V.
* I'm still trying to work out a decent stand for it (might use the hinges that came with the LCD housing and a flat metal triangle)
* Also in the planning stages is a simple housing for the LCD driver board, and some way to securely attach it to the external LCD screen
* Benefits over just buying an external portable monitor powered/video by a single USB-c port: lower cost (FHD at ~$80 all in with parts, QHD at ~$120 with parts vs $200+ for FHD by USB C from Asus); runs from boot rather than needing to be logged into Windows; works regardless of operating system; can be used with media streamers (although with no sound); user-serviceable/upgradeable; ability to run off laptop battery or external battery bank; geek-cool factor/bragging rights
* Drawbacks over just buying an external portable monitor: no warranty; technically not as simple
* A few images of the process (warning: still a work in progress, as I don't have a housing for the LCD driver board yet): https://imgur.com/a/XuXADC9

Let me know what you guys think!
ThinkPad T480s
i7-8550u | 16+8GB RAM | 500GB Samsung 970 | FHD-to-QHD upgrade (ask me how)
T480s 2280 M.2 M-key (PCIe x4) & 2242 M.2 B-key (PCIe x2) @WWAN slot
The X61 is dead... long live the X61

Past IBM ThinkPads: T450s, X250, X230, X220, X300, T410, X61s, T60p, T41, X31, T23, A21m

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