Making Embedded GUI’s Without Code

When the 4D Systems display first arrived in the mail, I assumed it would be like any other touch display – get the library and start coding/debugging and maybe get stuff painted on the screen before dinner. So I installed the IDE and driver, got everything talking and then…it happened. There, on my computer screen, were the words that simply could not exist –  “doesn’t require any coding at all”.

I took a step back, blinked and adjusted my glasses. The words were still there. I tapped the side of the monitor to make sure the words hadn’t somehow jumbled themselves together into such an impossible statement. But the words remained…   doesn’t.require.any.coding.at.all.

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Yet Another Awesome Working Prototype of a PipBoy 3000

When we’re not busy writing up features on Hack a Day, some of the writers here have some pretty impressive projects on the go. One of our own, [Will Sweatman], just put the finishing touches on this amazing (and functional!) Pipboy 3000!

The funny thing is, [Will] here isn’t actually a very big gamer. In fact, he hasn’t even played Fallout. But when a friend queried his ability to build this so called “PipBoy 3000″, [Will] was intrigued.

His research lead him full circle, right back to here at Hack a Day. We’ve covered several PipBoy builds over the years, and [Will] fell in love with [Dragonator’s] 3D printed version — it was the perfect place to start. You see, [Dragonator] shared all the 3D models on his personal site!

Now this is where it starts to get cool. [Will] is using a 4D systems 4.3″ touch display, which doubles as the microprocessor — in fact, he didn’t even have to write a single line of code to program in it! The hardware can be programmed using the free Workshop 4 IDE, which allows him to use a visual editor to program the device. Watching a YouTube video on the Fallout 3 PipBoy, he was able to recreate all the menus with intricate detail to load onto the device. It even has GPIO which allow him to use buttons to navigate the menus (in addition to the touch screen stylus).

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Working with the µOLED-128-G1 display

If you’re not already familiar with the 4D Systems µOLED-128-G1 display, [Gary] put together a project that shows some of the features it offers. This is a smart display, having its own onboard microcontroller and a microSD slot. The SD card stores image and video data, while the microcontroller takes care of displaying them based on simple serial commands it receives. This means you can hook it up to a computer or microcontroller and show still or animated sequences with minimal programming effort. We’ve embedded a video after the break, or you can look in on this slot machine project from last year that used the same module.

[Gary] is using a PIC microcontroller programmed with PIC Basic Pro. But most of the work is done with a 4D Systems program called Graphics Composer. You build out the images and animations you want to see on the screen, which are then formatted for the display and written to the SD card. [Gary] mentions that the card is not written using a traditional filesystem, so if you know of another way to write data to and from this card we’d love to hear about it in the comments. The image editing software will also spit out the serial commands necessary to pull your freshly minted graphics up on the display.

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