Recycle your laptop into a D&D playground

A couple of days ago, an old friend – salut Vincent! – pinged me to share/get some news. It’s been a while we didn’t see each other, so his message threw me three decades back in time. In high school, our gang spent days playing D&D, and of course, great memories resurfaced. As a tribute to the good old times, I decided to show you possible recycling for your old laptop. Over the years, we bought many laptops. Instead of throwing them out – and nobody really ever wanted to use these oldies – I used to take them apart. In addition to the fun and witnessing the increased integration from generation to generation, it confirmed that you barely can recycle any part you could salvage. This is true for all but the LCD! For my tribute, I will show how one can convert a laptop LCD into D&D moving map/terrain. I wish we had such a tool back in the days. To re-use an LCD screen, you essentially need an inverter as well as some electronics to drive the display. Many ready-to-use boards exist, and you simply need to pick one that is compatible with your screen.

 

 

In my case, I am using an R.RM5251 LCD controller board. Look carefully for the reference of your LCD (usually on the back) and pick the right driver/inverter. Last, you need to add power (12 VDC in my case), et voila. Based on the controller board, you may have access to a VGA, DVI, etc. connector to feed the video signal in. A PC, laptop or SBC can be used based on the complexity of your project. For a D&D game setup, a laptop is ideal. This way, the Dungeon Master can use his SW on the primary screen and display the map/terrain on the LCD positioned in the center of the table. Players can just position their figurines! Nothing – besides time and imagination – prevents you to do more. You could, for example, use RFID tags on the figurines and a detector under the LCD to track the players and maybe display their stats next to them. You could also mount a camera above the table and use OpenCV to detect the players’ positions. As I mentioned earlier, imagination is the limit! Last, but not the least, nothing prevents you to scale-up and use a TV LCD (just be extra careful with the high-voltage circuitry).