Reverse Engineering a 1.5 inch Photoframe

Little, no name, 1.5 inch LCD photo key-chains are all over the place for practically nothing. Not too surprisingly these things do not vary much in the parts that they use, some flash ram, a little lipo battery and a 16 bit color LCD. Wanting to find a way to reuse that LCD [Simon] Has an excellent tutorial on how to reuse a FTM144D01N LCD with a ILITEK ILI9163 LCD driver for your electronic projects.

Two units were used, one was ripped apart and soldered to a home made breakout board, the other was kept intact so its logic could be sniffed out with an oscilloscope. A pin-out was quickly determined since these things typically use a 8 or 16 bit data bus. Then a driver library was put together for AVR micro controllers, which includes some basic shape drawing and a 5×8 font.

While you may not be lucky enough to get this exact LCD screen from your local bargain store, there are a lot of pointers in here to hopefully get you up and going. We will be trying our luck on a very similar screen this afternoon as these things do have a decent picture and fairly quick response times already packaged in a hand-held case.

Join us after the break for a quick video.

21 thoughts on “Reverse Engineering a 1.5 inch Photoframe

  1. Nicely done! I could definitely see this as a good replacement for HD44780-type character display–not much more expensive, and a whole lot more capable!

  2. ahh through all the other sh1t that was posted today…i just knew there was a good reason to check this site!

    great job and documentation. thanks for sharing this.

  3. Cool hack, I have a couple similar laying around and have a few projects they would work good for. However I DO have one negative comment: WTF is with the screaming pointless noise they call music on those videos. I always hope for some sort of dialog or at least just minor back ground noise. BTW I DO like that sort of music, at clubs or a rave, just not with my electronics hacks.

    1. I was glad I didn’t have my headphone on, but even with those lying on my desk that wasn’t a good experience :)

      And youtube sound often comes out so damn loud too, sigh

  4. Nice work.

    With the test sentence its actually jumps instead of jumped. Otherwise you don’t get an S and don’t cover all the letters of the alphabet.

    1. You can buy 0.8mm breakout PCBs if you don’t like to make your own – there are a number of suppliers who make them.

      Also, the trick to soldering these types of connectors is to use a flux pen. If you wipe the pen over the PCB pads, sticky tape the display in position and then wipe the flux pen over the ribbon too the solder will flow easily and correctly. Without the extra flux it usually just ends up as a mess.

  5. Decided to order one at random from Ebay to try. Knowing me though it’ll probably end up in the never ending pile of “well at least I started”-projects…

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