Alphanumeric Displays
Some capable of graphics

This page lists for you pages written by me about various displays which you can put on the silicon brains of your choice. I, these days, usually work with Arduinos... but don't let that put you off.

For instance... the displays in the first section can all put text (and graphics, in some cases) on some sort of screen in response to a stream of serial data. Which can be created (simply) by a Pi, an Arizona Microchip PIC... or even a "big" computer or laptop. (Windows/ Mac/ Linux). (The latter usually have a pretty good display, already, of course... but what if you wanted an auxiliary display? Something, say, to show the processor's temperature, or the state of your email in-tray while the main display was "sleeping"?) (And of course also by an Arduino!)

But don't think that "serial driven" displays are all that is on offer here. There's others, after the ones that are driven by simple streams of serial data. They're in the next section.

Serial driven displays

Devices needing only a simple serial data stream

(I haven't done a special page about using such things, but don't forget the humble "ink-on-paper" printer! THEY are a way to get "a display" (of output) from a simple serial data stream. You'll have to hunt around a bit, these days, for one that prints each line as it is received... but they do exist. Hunt for "a line printer" (vs a "page printer", which only puts ink on paper when a whole page of data has been sent to it. If you can still find a "character printer", they'd work for getting output on "a display" (sheet of paper!), too.) Old dot matrix printers are usually line printers. You can find new "printers" for doing receipts for as little as $30, if the short lines and thermal paper are not inadequate for your wants. For many years, I used such a printer, in a locked space, to record who had opened the door (with an electronic lock, opened by keypad) into a computer room, in a school. I rarely needed to know... but once in a while, I would come in, and the room would be a mess. A quick glance at the access log was all it took to know who to speak to.

21 columns, 8 rows, of characters, plus graphics. Backlit LCD. $37 runs on 5v. 128x64 pixel. Sparkfun LCD-09351. (3/19: Retired... but you can read about it still!) Most of what it says in the guide also apply to the device's "big brother", which offers 160x128 pixels. (PS 2/18: I forgot I had written the guide the link at the start of this paragraph takes you to! And wrote, from scratch, a new guide to this splendid text and graphics LCD module! Of course, there is some overlap... but the old guide used the Sparkfun supplied library for many things. The new one lets you use the panel without using the library! Take your pick... or read both if after reading one, you want to further reinforce what you have learned.

Small but beautiful- $20-$30ish 1.8 inch TFT display. Small, but gorgeous color and resolution. Text, multiple fonts; graphics. Luminous display, doesn't rely on backlight.

Control VGA display with single serial line: Inexpensive (£25 @11/14, incl p&p in UK) small board which can generate an image on a VGA display. Character based, 50 lines of 100 characters. You only use a single I/O bit of the device controlling the display, e.g. Arduino, to "say" what you want shown on the display. It can have multiple windows, and each scrolls and line-wraps automatically. In multiple colors.

This page being built 1 May 17... more links to come. (pages written! Many of them will be found, at the moment, in http://sheepdogguides.com/arduino/ahttoc.htm

Less simply driven displays

These essays will often be mostly useful to Arduino users

Many old printers... if you can find an old dot-matrix line printer, for instance... were driven via a steam of data to them across a parallel port. Creating such a data stream is not terribly difficult. At the time those printers were common, I wrote a number of pages which may be of interest, if you're good at "translating" old material into modern terms!

You can drive an LCD panel "directly". It takes a few more digital I/O pins to do it, and the ones which can be driven with a serial data stream (using just one I/O pin) aren't much more expensive, but for the times you want an alternative...

Drive an LCD directly with only 7 I/O lines. The article this link takes you to speaks of buying a specific LCD from a specific dealer... but as long as you can find an LCD elsewhere that is of the same...widely sold... sort, you can have characters on a display very cheaply, in terms of money spent. The 7 I/O lines are "expensive" in a different way.

Output AND input! Only 7 I/O lines. $14. In early 2015, a nice little module with a backlit 2-rows-of-16-characters LCD combined with 5 buttons began to appear from multiple sources. The essay this link takes you to explains how to find one, how to hook one up.

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In addition to the essays about alphanumeric displays for which this page serves as Table of Contents, I have other sites with material you might find useful.....

Tutorials about the free database which is part of the free Open Office.
guide to the excellent KiCad, a free, open source, multi-platform suite of programs for printed circuit design.
Sequenced set of tutorials on Pascal programming and electronics interfacing.
Some pages for programmers.
More pages from the same author....

Click here to visit the homepage of Sheepdog Software, my biggest site.

Click here to visit the homepage of my oldest surviving pages.

Click here to visit editor's pages about using computers in Sensing and Control, e.g. weather logging. (It is part of the Sheepdog Software site.)

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