VFD Hacking

vfd_hacking

[Mostafa] was a bit bored and had a broken DVD player sitting around, so he decided to take it apart to see what made the machine’s LCD panel tick. Once he popped it open, he discovered it wasn’t an LCD panel at all, it was a VFD.

The seven segment display looked to be controlled by an ET16312n VFD driver, so he dug around online and found a datasheet for the chip. After looking at the documentation he was pretty confident he could get things working without too much trouble. He started tracing the board for the STB, CLK, Din, and Dout leads he needed to set up serial communications with the panel and was on his way in no time.

He hooked the panel up to the parallel port on his computer, and got busy hammering out some C code to write text to the display. Right now, the code lets you scroll text across the display, which is about as far as [Mostafa] cares to take it. It was done mostly as a proof of concept exercise, but since this VFD is compliant with the same NEC programming standard that most VFDs use, his code can likely be reused to drive any similar display with very little tweaking.

Comments

  1. Techie says:

    Nice hack… Even better, he uses a Mac.. :)

  2. andar_b says:

    I could be wrong, but those look like more than 7-segment character displays…

  3. Mike Nathan says:

    Whoops, did I write that?

    They are 16-seg displays with 7 digits. Thanks for catching that.

  4. Tweeks says:

    Man I love VFDs. :)

    Tweeks

  5. Lovro says:

    link is dead…

  6. jordan says:

    VFDs are awesome!

  7. Joel Rebello says:

    > He hooked the panel up to the serial port on his computer,

    The original article says he hooked it to the parallel port..

  8. Mike Nathan says:

    Meh, details!

    Thanks for the catch, I knew it was his parallel port and at some point changed it during editing. Corrected.

  9. Wizzard says:

    Confused a VFD for an LCD? I can see confusing an OLED, but he thought it was an LCD? Nice hack anyways.

  10. WeblionX says:

    A VFD with serial input? That’s nice. The one’s I’ve scrounged had no controller at all, except for one which used odd voltages and more than a serial strobe-in input. I wound up making my own control circuitry for one, once, using an Arduino and high-voltage output serial-shift-reg drivers. Had to rotate through the 8 plates constantly to use the entire display.

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