5 Replies Latest reply on Jan 29, 2018 1:33 PM by Bald Engineer James

    Hooking up a 20-pin TFT LCD Screen?


      I have an 5" TFT LCD screen that I pulled out of an old portable TV/Monitor which has a ZIF connector and a 20 pin flat flex cable attached to it. At first I figured I could simply attach this to the display ZIF socket on my Raspberry Pi Model B (v1 rev 2.1), however it seems that the LCD's connector has 5 (?) more pins than the Raspberry Pi does. Unfortunately, I do not have a scope to inspect exactly what each of these lines do.


      Is it possible for me to figure out how to connect this directly to my Pi using the ZIF connector? The board for this device does have a 3.5mm jack for A/V input, should I simply wire the Pi's video output to the board's video input on the A/V input jack? It would be nice to not have to use the board because it contains a ton of extra components for picking up UHF/VHF frequencies and such.

        • Re: Hooking up a 20-pin TFT LCD Screen?

          Hi Ryan,


          There is near to zero chance of this functioning via the flat flex unfortunately. You could use the 3.5mm socket as you say, provided it is intended for typical composite (often brought out on an RCA connector) use. However, this is an analog standard definition (SD) system, the image would be quite poor and no reasonable resolution for general use would be possible.

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            • Re: Hooking up a 20-pin TFT LCD Screen?

              I see, well thanks for saving me the time & trouble! I think I'll pick up a Pi compatible screen and scavenge this board for parts then.



                • Re: Hooking up a 20-pin TFT LCD Screen?
                  Roger Wolff

                  weeeeelllll....  If the cable is 20pin-flex. the chances are that the "protocol" is very similar to what the PI uses. But some googling shows that so far nobody has taken this thing apart and for example posted the model number of the LCD screen. So figuring out how this connects is going to be a hassle. And even if it uses "a similar" protocol, it might be sufficiently different to make hooking it up tricky. For example, the raspberry pi haws a two bit wide databus, if you screen uses a four bit bus, then you're screwed. So the quick-and-easy conclusion is: won't work, but if you're in for a challenge you can try to figure out why (and possibly succeed in hooking it up).

              • Re: Hooking up a 20-pin TFT LCD Screen?

                In a word MAYBE, but you are going to have to do some surgery on the TFT panel. There should be a number on it somewhere. You may even have to very gently disassemble the unit to give up its secrets. Their there you just have to look for them.

                • Re: Hooking up a 20-pin TFT LCD Screen?
                  Bald Engineer James

                  You still can't use the Pi's ZIF connector (directly). However, you could use the GPIO pins. But it isn't a trivial amount of work.


                  First, you need to determine the pin-out of the LCD panel. Not sure how you would go about reverse engineering it, so it'd be ideal if you could find some documentation on it.

                  Second, you'd need to build a breakout board to connect to the LCD's flat ribbon, to the Pi's GPIO. (This step is relatively straightforward.)

                  Third, configure the Pi's GPIO for LCD operation.


                  The good news? There was a Ben Heck Episode where he did something very similar. He was trying to make a portable retropie/mame device. In this case, he was directly driving the LCD, similar to what you are trying to accomplish.


                  Episode 322: Rasp Pi No HDMI - Portable MAME Part 1

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