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shifuimam Jan 18, 2013 02:43 PM
Here we go again: Shif's next LCD upgrade project (white non-unibody MB)
I want to get a used 13" MacBook Pro but lost my job recently, so I've got to make do with what I have - being an ancient white 13" MacBook with a bum LCD. Display works, but it's got a load of white spots on it due to an irresponsible previous owner.

Soooo I want to put a matte display in this thing. But wait, there's more! I also want to upgrade the resolution and, if possible, the backlight from CCFL to LED.

Has anyone does this before?

My previous clamshell iBook project relies on an OF mod to trick the OS into seeing the higher resolution display. That was in the days of PowerPC - does anyone have any experience with trying to upgrade the LCD in an Intel-based (therefore EFI-based) Mac? Is it easier than it used to be?

What about the LVDS cable? I've noticed that the non-unibody MacBook uses a 20-pin LVDS connection instead of a standard 30-pin. There are converters available, although I haven't researched them yet and don't know how good they are.

The LED backlighting part shouldn't be a problem, theoretically. I need to find out:
  • The actual voltage of the power connection for the CCFL inverter board
  • The voltage requirement for the LED backlight assembly on a MBA display

If the inverter is already only taking in 12v and the LED assembly needs more than 5v, it shouldn't be that difficult to add a voltage regulator in to drop the excess voltage as necessary. However, if the LED assembly only needs 5v, I'm thinking it may be possible to piggyback off the power running to the iSight camera (which is just a standard 4-pin USB connection) without interfering with the camera's functionality. If neither of those are an option, I'll have to find another power source elsewhere on the motherboard.

I can get a 13" matte LCD specifically compatible with the MacBook for $115. That's great, but I want that sexy high resolution if I can, so it's worth a shot, right?

If anyone has done one or more of the above, please feel free to provide your insight and opinion on feasibility and the like.
Waragainstsleep Jan 19, 2013 02:00 PM
If you can find a higher res CCFL panel with a matching connector or a cable to match it, I'd say that would work fine and be your best bet. Trying to build a custom LED driver board is going to be more work than would be worthwhile. There is no guarantee that the on/off and brightness signalling from the logic board to the inverter would match those sent to whatever controller chip is on the LED board so you might need to reverse engineer that and build or find a chip to match. Also the newer LED panels are thinner so you might find some mounting issues and while thats fairly trivial you'd still end up with an unsightly gap between the LCD and the bezel since the panel is secured to the lid.

These MacBooks came with at least two different cables to match the different models of LCD according to Apple though I never actually noticed if one had a much longer connector than the other. I fitted a lower than standard LCD in a MacBook Pro of similar vintage and that worked fine so there probably is a panel out there that would suit your needs. Also a newer higher res panel should be a bit brighter than the current screen so unless you are really concerned about the battery life you really won't see a massive difference for all that work.
shifuimam Jan 19, 2013 02:13 PM
Hmmmmmm...I hadn't thought about the brightness control being an issue. I could probably add some padding of some kind to avoid any bezel gaps, but an inability to change backlight brightness would definitely be a problem.

Do you have any idea offhand how the OS brightness control actually works? The inverter board is powered by a regular power connector (+V and ground), so I suspect it's coming through the LVDS signal.

You may be right - CCFL might be my best option. If that's the case, I don't know if I'll be able to get a higher-resolution display. When you replaced a MBP display, did you use a display from another Mac laptop, or a random LCD from eBay or elsewhere? When I did my clamshell project, I discovered that a Samsung 12" LCD with a very similar - but not identical, the last character was different - model number didn't work. It powered on and got a video signal, but the video was all garbled. I ended up having to use a display from a white 12" iBook G3/G4 in order for the signal to work.
andi*pandi Jan 22, 2013 10:23 AM
I have no idea how to help, but am rooting for ya and look forward to pix of the hack!
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