A small 16x2 LCD display housed in a green and yellow hobby box.

Arduino-Powered Info Display For Your Windows Computer

If you’ve been pining for a retro-chic 16×2 LCD display to enhance your Windows computing experience, then [mircemk] has got you covered with their neat Windows-based LCD Info Panel.

Your everyday garden variety Arduino is the hero here, sitting between the computer’s USB port and the display to make the magic happen. Using the ‘LCD Smartie‘ software, the display can serve up some of your typical PC stats such as CPU and network utilization, storage capacity etc. It can also display information from BBC World News, email clients, various computer games and a world of other sources using plugins.

It’s clear that the intention here was to include the display inside your typical PC drive bay, but as you can see in the video below, this display can just about fit anywhere. It’s not uncommon to see similar displays on expensive ‘gamer’ peripherals, so this might be an inexpensive way for someone to bring that same LED-lit charm to their next PC build. You probably have these parts sitting in your desk drawer right now.

If you want to get started building your own, there’s more info over on the Hackaday.io page. And if PC notifications aren’t your jam, it’s worth remembering that these 16×2 displays are good for just about anything, like playing Space Invaders.

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Manual LCD Makes Information Display Tedious, Educational

The HD44780 is one of the first chips¬†we¬†learned about as a kid, and chances are good you’ve used one in your project at some point, and almost certain that you’ve interacted with one in your life. The character LCD is ubiquitous, easy to interface, and very robust. They come in sizes from 8 x 1 to 20 x 4 and even larger, but they almost all have the same pinout, and there are libraries in many embedded environments for interacting with them. [The 8-Bit Guy] decided to interface with one using just switches and a button, (YouTube, embedded) with the intent of illustrating exactly how to use them, and how easy they are.

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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]