Portable External Monitor v3 Screen and Components Core

Now that the unused bracket has been cut out of the way, it’s time to pack components into that newly freed space. Due to the CFL backlight power wire, there’s not a lot of room for creativity to place the CFL voltage converter board. It ends up approximately at the same place as the old dead CFL driver board where the bracket used to be. That left enough room on either side of the driver board: the buttons circuit board on the left, and the IR receiver on the right.

One unfortunate aspect of these aftermarket circuit boards is that they’re designed towards ease of construction, allowing easy mixing-and-matching components. Large components, especially the cable connectors, make it easy to snap things together. But the large connectors work against us when we’re trying to pack everything tightly. There’s a good reason they don’t use these types of parts when building thin and light laptops!

This hampers our effort packaging the buttons board and the IR receiver board. Everything is on one side of the circuit board for ease of construction, working against a compact layout. For example, we want the user-facing bits (buttons and IR receiver) on one side of the circuit board, and the cables on the back side for connection, but that’s not how they were built.

Building something out of laser-cut pieces means the Z axis is constrained by the thickness of the acrylic stock available. That plus the inconveniently placed cables and connectors made the whole exercise a challenging game of 3D jigsaw puzzle. Here’s my solution for Portable External Monitor, version 3:


While the components aren’t all on a single sheet of acrylic, we got close enough that it’s actually a pretty tightly integrated unit. Now this core unit, consisting of the screen plus supporting circuit boards, needs an enclosure around them.


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