A Simple And Inexpensive GPS Navigation Device

There are plenty of GPS navigation units on the market today, but it’s always fun to build something yourself. That’s what [middelbeek] did with his $25 GPS device. He managed to find a few good deals on electronics components online, including and Arduino Uno, a GPS module, and a TFT display.

In order to get the map images on the device, [middelbeek] has to go through a manual process. First he has to download a GEOTIFF of the area he wants mapped. A GEOTIFF is a metadata standard that allows georeferencing information to be embedded into a TIFF image file.  [middelbeek] then has to convert the GEOTIFF into an 8-bit BMP image file. The BMP images get stored on an SD card along with a .dat file that describes the boundaries of each BMP. The .dat file was also manually created.

The Arduino loads this data and displays the correct map onto the 320×240 TFT display. [middelbeek] explains on his github page that he is currently unable to display data from two map files at once, which can lead to problems when the position moves to the edge of the map. We suspect that with some more work and tuning this system could be improved and made easier to use, of course for under $25 you can’t expect too much.

Driving a T6963C based graphic LCD

[Tom Fleet] spent the dreary weekend inside learning how to drive this T6963C based graphic LCD controller. Although this is his first time venturing away from HD44780 character displays, the availability of an Arduino library helped him go from being a newbie to coding his own animated graphics.

The hardware setup is straight-forward. The screen has a 20-pin connector and operates at 5V. We don’t see it on his protoboard, but usually these displays also need a potentiometer which serves as a voltage divider for the screen contrast. The data and control pins eat up most of the available I/O on the ATmega328 chip he used, but the I2C and SPI pins are still open and he plans a future project to make this a wireless display for his PC using one of those protocols.

As for fonts and animation, [Tom] links to several tools which will come in handy. There’s a font program that will convert Windows system fonts into a C file for use on the Arduino. The animations start with a 1:1 ratio animated graphic drawn with his favorite image editing software. He then converts those to monochrome bmp files and used bmp2c to convert each frame to a C array. After the break there’s a seven second example that would work well as a boot screen for his project.

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Drawing images on a character display

[Dean Hall] doesn’t seem to know his Simpsons characters very well, but that didn’t stop him from coming up with this method for displaying a bitmap on an LCD character display with a Hitachi HD44780 chip.

[Hall] used an LCD with two 16 character rows and 8×5 pixels in each character. He displayed the image over 2×3 characters, which gave him 17×18 pixels (including the spaces between the characters) to work with. The first step after acquiring an image is to rasterize the image by hand onto graph paper. This won’t be scanned, it’s just a diagram to determine which pixels to light up.

Once the 6 characters were determined, [Hall] used this handy web-based tool to convert his graphed diagram to bitmap data. The data is loaded onto the microcontroller and the image shows up on the LCD. This is a pretty straightforward project, just be sure you properly identify your monkeys.

[via YourITronics]