Fun things to do with a broken LCD screen

If you have an old flat-screen TV or computer screen knocking about in your garage, have you ever considered that it could be put to good use?

Well, not only can you save a piece of old technology from the scrapheap, but you also can repurpose a mundane blank screen into a range of intriguing projects.

To give you an idea of what you can achieve with your old screen, we have curated 6 of the most fun things to do with a broken LCD screen

To get you familiarized with the components of an LCD screen and how it works, take a look at this LCD teardown by electronics engineer Bill Hammack:

Not only can you now spend a rainy afternoon or two taking apart your busted LCD screen, you’ll get that insider’s view of all the interesting circuitry that goes into these electronic devices that are a part of everyday life.

Keeping an LCD display from being landfill material and leaching toxic material into the earth is better for the environment too.

Who knows? You may be so successful with these LCD recycling and repurposing projects that you may be able to learn how to repair them! 

1. Take that old LCD and turn it into a self-made light panel!

If you are an artist or photographer, you will be well aware of the importance and expense of lighting. But what if we told you that you could make a powerful, portable DIY light panel from an old LCD screen?

This amazing LCD screen hack produces a high-quality panel light that radiates daylight quality light. An equivalent panel light can cost well over a hundred dollars!

To make your panel light all you will need is your broken LCD screen, LED lighting strips, gaffer tape, or metal for a new frame, and a screwdriver. 

This method involves a takedown of the old screen and reassembly with LED strips used to sub for the old CCFL bulbs that backlight the screen. 

Watch this cool tutorial to get the hang of how the whole thing works. You’ll have to agree the results are pretty smart!

2. Your old flatscreen TV can become a stylish and futuristic coffee table!

We have to admit we were skeptical about this LCD screen project, but the walk-through provided by the BrunaLab team in Florida was convincing. These scientists were more than qualified to take apart an old Panasonic screen to make a StarTrek-worthy infinity table. 

This tutorial is a little more than purchasing some IKEA table legs to screw into the screen to make a coffee table (the original hack). Emilio Bruna decided to take his project in a high art direction to produce an infinity lighting effect with blue LEDs.

Again with a little electronic know-how, wiring and battery-powered LED lights an infinity TV coffee table was born. The turnaround of this project was within a day which makes it doable on a weekend that you have free.

We love the futuristic results of the LCD recycling project and the low costs. Emilio Bruna’s project came in at $73 all in, with a wacky blue lighting pattern that kept his kids glued to the coffee table screen!

3. Create your own stylish smart mirror from an old LCD screen!

If you are a tech and electronics enthusiast, you will be aware of the Raspberry Pi revolution. These remarkable single-board computers have the processing power to be put to work in a wide range of projects, including partnering with your broken LCD screen to make your high-end digitized smart mirror!

There are loads of tutorials for this LCD screen mirror which vary in cost, complexity, and overall swagger. The majority of them, place the LCD screen behind a two-way mirror and rely on the WiFi-enabled Raspberry Pi3.

Here are some of the best smart LCD mirror tutorials on the web:

4. Build a HD digital projector from your broken LCD screen

A popular hack for an old LCD display is to repurpose it as a digital projector, accessorizing it with popcorn and movies!

This project tends to be a little more rough and ready in appearance but we’re sure you could smarten it up with some plastic or wooden housing.

The basics of this build include combining an old OHP projector and laying a stripped-down LCD on the glass of the projector. The OHP does all the hard work of projecting your movie or game. 

The like the old school OHPs the visual effect of this projector will be strongest in very low light as the claim to High Definition projection may be a little too enthusiastic.

Also, the LCD does age quite quickly in this arrangement as the light passing through the denuded screen damages the LCD. However, you can definitely gather the family round for a decent movie night or two before it all falls apart!

5. Run the world from your old monitor with a smart wall-mounted LCD dashboard

Raspberry Pi comes to the rescue again as the perfect partner for repurposing your own screen. After all the Raspberry Pi is a computer with no screen to call its own.

This hack is very similar to the smart mirror and uses the slightly more powerful Raspberry Pi 4 which has the comparable processing power to a regular computer.

You can use your dashboard for all sorts of purposes including video games, or tracking the news, weather, or stocks!

Check out this neat tutorial for making your own LCD dashboard: 

6. (and its an epic one): Create a transparent LCD screen

This project totally blew us away. How cool is a transparent screen that you can see through while you stream films or play games?! Though this project is not for amateurs it is possible to requisition a discarded LCD TV and create a see-through screen. 

To achieve this, you will need an expert takedown of the TV, sepearating every single layer of the screen and building up a custom design and housing.

You will need some back lighting but if you watch this intriguing tutorial you can see that with LCD anything is possible!

Remember, LCD screens are hazardous Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) waste, so you need to handle them carefully

A broken LCD screen is a potential hazard to your health and the environment so it is important that you handle the screen safely to prevent injury or harm.

Though the screen has liquid crystal, the amount contained within a busted screen is small and unlikely to cause a hazardous spill because it is viscous. 

However, there are certain substances to be careful off including N-(4-Methoxybenzylidene)-4-butylaniline (MBBA), a compound that is often used as liquid crystal is hightly irritant and can cause blood poisoning if ingested.

The CCFL bulbs that backlight the screen often contain mercury.

It is best to wear gloves, goggles, and a dust mask when taking apart electronics as you cannot be sure what you will encounter. Be careful handling circuit boards as capacitors can have retained enough power to give you a nasty shock!

Rounding up

We think these fun projects for broken and neglected LCD screens are more than food for thought. You should definitely pick one and give it a try.

If anything we hope you can see the utility of the Rasperry Pi which is an amazing gizmo that can really take these projects to another level. 

Grab that old LCD that is gathering dust and start its tranformation today!