GrandMA2 Light TFT Screen Replacement

My GrandMA2 Light console is from 2012, and whilst it had supposedly been updated to 8GB RAM, it hasn’t been upgraded to the newer LED screens.

Given the cost of this replacement, and that fact that one of the TFT screens on this console was definitely on the way out, I decided that it was worth investigating whether it was possible to replace just the TFT screen, given that most of the second hand replacements are expensive and include the touch overlay aswell.

So… My problem was this:

Reddish tinge to the screen until the backlights have warmed up
Warming up from turning on after screensaver
You can see the difference in brightness between the 2 screens. The RH one was replaced in 2015

Having seen a video of the touch element being replaced on the smaller 9″ screen on an MA2 full-size, and looking at the larger screens, it looked as if the touch overlay was separate to the TFT on these aswell.

I decided to do some research and pull one of the 15.4″ TFT screens out to see if I could find a manufacturer part number on it, and after gently prying the alloy back panel off, success!

Original TFT Display – N154I4-L04

I did a lot of research online and managed to find a replacement panel on eBay in the UK from a vendor that sold mainly TFT panels of various sizes for different applications. The MA2 TFT’s are 15.4″, WXGA 1280×800 Resolution, with 30pin LVDS connector, and dual CCFL backlights. I found one listed as being a replacement for MA2 screens so purchased two of them. I figured it was worth replacing both screns, and the one replaced in 2015 is in good condition, could become my “working spare”.

These are the panels I received:

LTN154AT08 replacement TFT. A search shows these are most likely to be Samsung made panels.
New TFT panel with it’s protective cover still on
Side by side – Old TFT with touch overlay (Left) and New TFT (Right)

So, the panels look like they should be compatible.. same size etc, so lets jump back a bit at removing the TFT’s

First… Power down the console, switch off the rocker switch, and disconnect the Powercon. I left mine for a little while for the capacitors in the power supply to discharge.

Facing the back of the console, I took the lower cover panel off (as it gives better access to the lower screws on the monitor wing – just be careful at dropping any inside the console as they can be a pain to find if they roll out of sight!), followed by the back panel of the monitor wing.

I started on the LH display (RH as you look at it from the rear) as it meant I could leave the monitor wing support in place whilst I was working out removing the panel.

Monitor wing cover off and support loosely screwed in to keep the wing in place

Here you can see the cabling and components of the displays. Up top is the Touch controller, with it’s USB connection. On the RH side is the backlight inverter with the input cable at the bottom, and the high voltage outputs to the CCFLs at the top. The other cable at the bottom/middle is the LVDS signal cable from the video converter board.

The first step is to gently unplug the backlight inverter board, touch controller, and LVDS connector. Be VERY careful with the LVDS connector – it is held in with some alloy foil tape which needs to be carefully peeled back to help release it.

Once the connectors are released, cut all the cable ties holding the wiring to the TFT back plate. I also cut the cable ties at the bottom of the monitor wing where they are held as they go into the bottom case – this gives a bit more clearance/room to move when taking the TFT panel out.

Next, disconnect the CCFL connectors, and remove the backlight inverter from both screens (for better access to the bolt heads that hold the panels in place).

Now it’s time to remove the TFT panel! I started by loosening the bolts in the centre of the wing, that hold both screens in. The bolt heads are Torx T10, and then nuts are 5.5mm on my particular console.

With the 4 bolts removed, the TFT should be able to drop down a bit, and gently removed with the LH side coming out first. You should be able to press down on the cabling at the bottom of the screen to give it enough clearance to slide out, without having to remove all pf the cables from the wing.

I gently brought the screen out sideways, with it low enough for the top of the screen to clear the frame – just be careful to not catch the ribbon cable from the touch overlay on the way out!!

You should then have the screen out and a big hole left behind:

I used this opportunity to give inside the monitor wing a clean out of dust aswell.

I then took the screen to my other desk to see about removing the touch panel and fitting it to the new TFT.


Firstly start off with removing the mounting brackets on the sides of the old TFT. I then unscrewed the touch controller and flipped the screen over (being careful not to damage the ribbon cable) and gently peeled the foil tape holding the overlay to the TFT off the touch panel first. Once this was removed and the touch overlay was loose, I quickly removed the protective plastic film from the new TFT and swapped it over to prevent any dust from getting in between them.

I then cut strips of aluminum foil tape to stick the touch overlay to the new TFT. Starting on the short edges, I stuck the tape to the overlay, and then wrapped it around the sides of the screen. Next, I did the long side where the CCFL connectors are, and then finally the bottom edge. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE BOTTOM EDGE!!! The is where it says “Do not touch” on the TFT display, as this is where the very fine ribbons go from the video control board to the TFT panel itself. Damaging one of these will cause your LCD panel to be faulty. I stuck the foil tape along the edge of the touch overlay and then very gently wrapped it around the TFT and lightly stuck it down. On the other 3 sides, I used a plastic blade to go over the foil tape and make sure it was firmly stuck, but left the bottom edge as it was, just stuck on with light finger pressure.

The last pieces to swap over are the alloy back panel, and a small heat sink that MA put where the CCFL connectors go into the panel.

I prised the alloy panel off the old screen, and used a long/thin knife blade to cut through the sticky foam at the top edge. To stick the plate onto the new TFT, I used some strong double sided tape, and also a bit of the foil tape along the edges to make sure it wasn’t going to come loose.

Reattach the touch controller with it’s 2 screws, and tape the ribbon cable back down. Also screw on the mounting brackets to the sides of the new TFT panel. I also removed the heatsink from the old TFT with a thin knife blade, and then glued it onto the new screen with some thermal glue.

Then, refit is the reverse of removal – slide the TFT screen back into the monitor wing, and then bolt it in. If doing both screens, then it’s only a couple more bolts to remove to get the second screen out, so I would do that before reassembling it all.

I found I had to remove the board on the LH side to be able to access the bolt heads with my driver, but this is easy enough and is all Torx T10 head bolts too.

Loosening of the board on the LH side gave better access for the bolt heads on the LH screen

As you can see, the PCB was filthy, so got a thorough clean before being refitted.

Getting the second screen out is a bit of a juggle as you have to release the monitor wing from the support, I managed to do it on my own, but a second set of hands to be able to hold the monitor wing whilst you’re removing the screen would make life a bit simpler!

Once both screens (or just the one if that’s all you’re doing) are back in and bolted up (check alignment as you are tightening the bolts up to ensure they’re in the opening on the monitor wing properly), you can reinstall the inverter boards, and have a cable tie party, to neatly re-run and support all the wiring.

This was after refitting the first of my screens – whilst waiting for more cable ties to arrive and also did one screen per evening. You could do both of them in a day if required, and I’d be a lot faster at it next time, now I know the process!

I don’t have any pictures of the final install with all the cabling re-run – but it looks pretty much like the original does! I used the initial pictures as reference for cable layout/runs etc when I was putting it all back together. Plus I was just hoping that it would all work properly when I hit the power button!!

The end result! 2 new TFT screens that now look the same (though it’s hard to tell in the pictures because of the glare) for a fraction of the price of second hand screens or the LED screen upgrade.

DISCLAIMER:
Please note… I am NOT an MA trained service engineer – just someone who’s been in the lighting/entertainment industry for nearly 18 years, and has an electronics background.

The write up above is purely based on MY experience, with MY console – yours may be different, and as such should only be used as a rough guide. If you are not comfortable pulling your console apart, with the risk that you may break something expensive, then I would advise you to send your console to a qualified service centre for MA products.

I couldn’t justify the cost of a newer console with LED screens, nor the cost of having it upgraded by MA at this time. I am also happy to taking things apart to a component level, and would rather try to fix/repair/refurbish parts where possible.

If you have an MA console with failing TFT screens, but aren’t comfortable replacing them yourself then feel free to get in touch, as replacing the screens could be a service I am willing to provide – either by having your console shipped to me, or depending on where you are/number of consoles, onsite at your location.

US based owners – I am often over in the USA, and again it might be possible to co-incide one of my trips with screen replacement if you aren’t happy doing it yourself.

Screen part numbers… I believe that there are a number of different screens that will fit these consoles from different manufacturers. I can only attest to the screens I have fitted to mine. Screens should be 15.4″ diagonal, 1280×800 pixel resolution, with a 6 bit 30pin LVDS connector, and DUAL CCFL backlights. Please make sure you are happy with compatibility before purchasing screens from your preferred supplier!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions/queries!

Martin Cox, July 2020