VGA message board displays SMS without a computer

[Achu Wilson's] latest creation is a VGA message board which is written to via SMS text messages. This doesn’t sound too interesting at first, until you find out he’s doing this with a microcontroller rather than a PC. All of the complexity is in the code that drives the VGA. He managed to do it without any jitter while using an 8-bit microcontroller.

But first, the cellular side of things. A GSM modem takes care of connectivity. To communicate with the modem [Achu] used an ATmega8. He mentions the he could have used a much smaller uC, like an ATtiny, but this is what he had lying around. When a message is received the ATmega8 feeds the characters to an ATmega16 which is driving the VGA monitor. Rather than deal with the analog voltages necessary to run a color display he simply ganged the three color lines together and drives them from one of the microcontroller pins. This results in white and black which correspond to voltage or no voltage.

You can see him showing off the system in the clip after the break.


  1. threeck says:

    Now this is a hack.

  2. Whatnot says:

    Sometimes it’s so damn frustrating that the whole concept of mobile phones and the mobile phone system is completely ruined by all the tracking and spying and money-grabbing BS, since it has(had) such potential for those of us into tech.

  3. Bogdan says:

    Always thought it is quite amazing how much you could display with a simple microcontroller on a VGA screen.
    Too bad you cannot find smaller VGA screens for really cheap..

  4. Why not just make “desperation” turkish coffee, coffee and sugar in water, nuke it for 5 minutes and chug it down. As for the mouse, finally the carpet can match the drapes!

  5. geetika says:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,376 other followers