Hacking an LCD

lcd

The HD4478 is an extremely common LCD controller. The folks at Sorgonet got this particular display out of an old credit card reader. It’s easy to talk to these controllers using just a parallel port cable. With the lcdmod project you can send text strings directly to the display from the command line. Sorgonet has a lot of related LCD links if you are interested in putting a display on your next project.

[thanks h-tech]

Comments

  1. fucter says:

    you can buy them on ebay, with backlights!! you need to wire up your own parallel port cable though, and yes, you also need a parallel port :(

  2. Mr Dan says:

    You can also pick up PCI or ISA cards with parallel and serial ports on them…for those of you with new computers which dont have basic connectivity…

  3. markie says:

    These displays are really not that expensive, I paid EUR 20,- (appr. $25) for a blue one with backlight, 20×4 characters… (and 4 rows is so much better than 2). I modded it in my media center (which is the only windows-machine I have btw) and there’s lots and lots of software out there to display just about anything on that display… I’m sure it’s possible to get a HAD-rss-feed on there? anyone? :-)

    my display:

    and some examples of what it can display:

  4. chris says:

    re #3: That LCD looks great in that case, the blue goes really well on the black. You should submit it over at the lcd gallery –

    http://www.lcdgallery.net

    Loads of nice screens on there.

  5. hex4def6 says:

    They destroyed a credit card reader to get a 12 buck LCD?!

    Oy Vey.

    I would have traded them one of my *serial* matrix orbitals (HD4478 + piggy back board that does the serial communication conversion) for the reader.

  6. madd_matt says:

    what about using LCDs from calculators or VCR’s? the type that only display a few fixed things, is that as simple as sending voltage to each digit you want to light up?

  7. ez says:

    also i’d like to see several cell phone old cellphone displays lined up.

  8. There’s also a tool called lcdprint.exe that you can google that lets you print from the command-line of Windows.

  9. jc says:

    This is not “hacking an LCD”. This is taking an LCD, and using it for it’s intended purpose, which is displaying data. “hacking an LCD” would be taking the LCD itself apart and making it do something it wasn’t originally intended to do. I wish people would learn what the heck “hacking” means.

    And #6: Calculators and VCRs generalyl don’t have LCDs. They have VFDs (Vacuum Flourecent Displays). They’re a pain to drive without using an driver chip built for them. But it can be done.

  10. CYRIX says:

    had extra’s i need you.

  11. Ewan says:

    You can also drive a HD44780 with the GPIO pins on a Soekris box – used this for a final year project. Needs a pot to control the contrast, and thats about it. Googling for HD44780 Soekris will give you the necessary circuit diagram / device driver code.

  12. carpespasm says:

    combine this with yesterday’s control setup wired to 15 buttons instead of 4, and you can make a pretty nice interface for a media pc

  13. melt says:

    How on earth is this a hack? The display is designed to be used in precisely this way, all they did was basically plug it in to the parallel port.

    This is awful. Bad show, hackaday.

  14. hex4def6 says:

    #9: Only really old skool calculators have VFD’s. Modern calculators, from the $6 walmart special to the TI-89, all have LCD’s.

    True about the VCR though.

  15. hex4def6 says:

    And offtopic; what’s with the convert to lowercase lame thing going on?

    UPPERCASE (should be all caps)
    lowercase

  16. guy_incognito says:

    I think the term “hack” in this case is used to connote a haphazardly executed modification (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) If you check out the “robot arm” page, you’ll see a certain stylistic similarity. I’m glad that none of these guys have been electrocuted yet.

  17. Jaguarius says:

    Wow this is jsut such old news I can’t believe it made it up here at all :P Its a mod project certainly not a hack. And I dunno how old that article was, but I think they should google for some wiring diagrams before spending so much time trying to “figure out” how to wire it up. Ah well, I have one of these it is a fun mod :)

  18. Captain_jameson says:

    Totally agree with #9, #13 and #17. This really isn’t a ‘hack’, more an elementary failure to use google before taking your first faltering steps into playing with trivial hardware.

    Poor show. If there’s no content for the day’s hack, just say so…

  19. just this guy says:

    I’m going to be a total jerk here.

    This is simply using an LCD, not hacking it.

    These projects have been around for ~years~.

    The only hacking I see here is the hacking that was done on that poor innocent 5-1/4 inch drive bay cover that the LCD was mounted in.
    Next time use some tools instead of hiring mice to gnaw a hole in the plastic.

    This stuff should be in a ‘best of’ post or something.

  20. jared harley says:

    hack or not, i enjoyed this one… not for the article written in poor english, but because it got me to look up other resources. I’ve got an old nokia 3590 lying around, and i’ve wanted to do something with it. And to #18, I’d still rather something than nothing, even if i’m not interested in it.

  21. Here is my lcd hack. Original thing about it is that it’s used in my mythtv box. When turned off it displays the next recording show. It draws power from the PS/2 port so it stays on when the mythbox has had a software shutdown.

    http://nerdhero.org/index.php/Howtos/LcdDisplay

  22. ez says:

    You freaking useless nerd saying “that’s not a hack, that’s not a hack, thats a ______”
    WELL IT IS A FRIGGING HACK OKAY THIS IS STUPID HOW ABOUT YOU QUIT BEING LITTLE BIOTCHS AND DO AN ACTUAL HACK.
    Seriously go suck a lemon.

  23. paul wilson says:

    cheer up! say, anyone out there lookikng for alternative heating sources this winter? I’d really like to see some home heating hacks. right now i’m planing to build a system that would have a wood buring device loacated outside and will circulate heated water into the house. Anyone done this type of thing?

  24. max w. says:

    If you have an old palm lying around, you can use palmorb. I found it a few months ago. You can have the palm act as a display. It allows you to interface with any LCD software that supports the Matrix Orbital LK204-25 LCD. It is no longer maintained, so if someone wants to sake over, they can. The link is: http://palmorb.sourceforge.net/

  25. madd_matt says:

    paul wilson:

    Thats not an unusal thing at all, at least in my area where wood is abundant and free.

  26. angie says:

    Do you hack to change grades?

  27. duckdogandfrog says:

    and just as I was wondering what to do with the 8 of them that are sitting in my bedroom

  28. know Orange says:

    thanks allot for this useful post!
    I found a youtube video about xbox live hacks: that I would like to share: xbox Live hacks!.
    But seriously, amazing post and thank you alot !!
    i look ahead to your next post !!

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