Thought I’d share a small project i did last summer.
Had 4 older laptops gathering dust. Some were broken, others simply too slow to use for anything. So i decided to take them apart, like I do with most things to collect screws, fans, cooling profiles, drives and of course displays.
Only had three displays connected to my workstation, and wanted to have some more desktop space, so decided to see if it wasn’t possible to acquire a controller for them. A normal desktop display is pretty much the same as on a laptop, it just has a controller attached with HDMI and other ports.
I managed to find some on ebay at a reasonable price, think I paid €20-25 a piece with free shipping from China. I ordered those and wondered how I could mount them. Went to my workshop, found some 1mm aluminum plate i got from god knows where, and decided to make a frame so the three displays could hang side by side.
After a day of measuring, cutting, hammering to make bends, sanding and then spray painting. I was done with the mount for it. I attached a vesa mount i bought for €5-10 from some local shop.
Here is the end result.
Sorry for the picture, not really in the mood of pulling it off the wall, but I think you get the idea.
To find the correct controllers for your display, all you have to do, is to take the model number from a sticker on the back. Below you have an example, with a link to an ebay vendor with a controller for that display as example.
The info you need is only the model number, in this case B173RW01 V.3, and if I remember correctly, I had to use H/W: 5A and F/W: 1 in one case, so make sure your specific display is listed for the specific controller. The vendor I bought my controllers from, had decent documentation and supported models listed for each controller, so I suppose it is possible to get from other vendors too.
You will also need to get a power supply for each display, in my case I had them lying around. Expect to need something in the range of 35W for a 15". Again, ebay is a good bet, probably in area of €10-15 from China with free delivery.
Was a pain to get it to work in Linux to begin with, in Windows it was plug and play. I wanted the displays to work as several screens, but on same desktop, so I could drag windows from one to another, but when I maximize one, it had to stay on that display only. I never liked Gnome, too bubbly and generally irritating in my opinion, so only tried that for a day or so. Then I tried KDE, no dice, nouveau driver was acting up and couldn’t get the maximization to work how I wanted using proprietary drivers. So i ended up with XFCE. As soon as I installed proprietary drivers and realized there was something called Xinerama, it worked exactly how I wanted.
It was a royal pain in the arse to setup xorg.conf, so if you are in a similar situation with 5 or more screens on two GPUs, say so, I’ll gladly share my xorg.conf or help you get yours setup.