# LCD Display (Basic)

#### mcasey

Jul 9, 2016
64
Looking for a very basic and simple way to display digital text on a small display.
4 buttons max (a 4 way key pad will do):
Left/right: space, backspace, next character.
Up/down: Select character.

#### kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
4,852
Is this just to display text and not act as an input/output device for other functions?

The simplest way - and it's still 'complicated' - is to use a PIC or Arduino in association with an I2C-interfaced LCD (that you can get in all sorts of character numbers, dot-matrix etc).

There are loads of 'sketches' available for the Arduino that give software solutions for the most common displays thereby making the whole programming process much easier.

Try to get an Arduino/PIC tutorial book - some of the mid-stage student projects involve writing to displays. This will give you an idea of what's involved.

#### mcasey

Jul 9, 2016
64
Yes, I just want to display text; sort of like a digital name tag. I want to replace label stickers with digital displays. An example would be to have a shoe rack with sizes 9, 10, and 11 on each shelf. Instead of using a label to identify the size, you would use an LCD to display the size for each shelf. The characters on the LCD would need to be easily editable. I.E. next week all 3 shelves have size 10 shoes and so on. Ideally, the LCD would have a couple of button/switches on the side or back that allowed you to change the text. I.E. Left arrow button to backspace, up arrow to scroll through the alphabet, then right arrow to go to the next space. Sort of like a 3 or 4 button keyboard.

I have searched for the tutorials you mentioned above and found many interesting videos, but none addressing what I'm looking for specifically.

#### kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
4,852
There are a lot of parameters to consider here:

Text size - it has to be readable at distance
Clarity - will it require to be backlit? Viewing angle?
Digits - Number of characters/lines
Power - how will it be powered?

Your idea, as good as it sounds, would be something many retailers would (might) appreciate but I don't know of any on a personal experience basis so, to me, you're looking to design something from scratch.

In an ideal word the answer would be a self-contained module with e-ink display (low power, highly readable) and bluetooth (remote) programmability.

Such a device is always possible to manufacture but on a one off basis you're talking $10's - possibly$100 for a 1-off (up to 10-off) quantity.

Should you get something like this to market it would be rapidly taken up and cost would likely fall to a dollar a shot levels but you're talking manufacturing in the 100,000's or millions!

It probably explains why simple printed labels are still the way to go! Consider, instead, getting a small label printer (Zebra do a good range) and using software to knock out quick sticky labels. No reason why this couldn't be done in MS Office as a macro.

#### kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
4,852
Have a look at LCD Smartie too - it's a software package designed to be used with a multitude of LCD displays. Free to use, loads of display choices.

http://lcdsmartie.sourceforge.net/

#### mcasey

Jul 9, 2016
64
I am not looking to take this to market. The shoe shelf was just an analogy. I am planning on using this for various things around my home. I think it would be cool to use a digital display to identify BBQ dishes like pork, beef, or chicken at a cookout; things like that. The cost is not really an issue and I don't mind starting from scratch if that's the only way.

A standard 16x2 character display with backlight would be sufficient. Controlling what is displayed is what I'm interested in. Battery powered would be fine. I think this would be a neat project to work on at home, but need some guidance...

#### mcasey

Jul 9, 2016
64
The closest thing I can thing of is a basic digital alarm clock. You click one button the set the time, then hold another button down to scroll through numbers, then click the set button again to save the time. I want to do something similar with letters; kind of set it and forget it

#### kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
4,852
Other than working through a typical PIC/Arduino 'basics' course (one that encompasses using LCD displays for output) then what you are asking is a bit beyond the limitations of this forum in the sense that it would take page after page of 'help' to work through it.

I have a book called 'PIC Microcontrollers" as printed by Elektor magazine (written by Bert van Dam) that has a good section on the wiring of and programming of a PIC device to do (basically) what you want although it would take a little modification of the code to get precisely what you want but this illustrates what I'm getting at in terms of describing it in a thread like this.

Here's the first couple of pages of the relevant section on the book. Try to find something like this either online or as actual paperback (best) and learn from it.

#### mcasey

Jul 9, 2016
64
Thank you for the recommendation. I will certainly check it out.

I found a video (courtesy of trinath pandu) showing how to display without using a microcontroller. Do you see a way to accomplish the same thing, with fewer switches, without the use of a microcontroller?

#### kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
4,852
....errr.. that method basically uses switches to set the code for each character (including the codes necessary for setting the cursor position etc) and it would take AGES to program even a simple text entry!

It illustrates the process I suppose but it's not a method that can be easily 'upgraded' - that takes the power of a processor!

You need to write code that recognises which key has been pressed then acts to both load the character and auto-increment the cursor position plus the various codes needed for moving the cursor to correct mistakes etc.

There's no getting around the need for a processor - the arduino would be best (the 'mini' version) as there will inevitably be a code library to cover the LCD display routine and a separate one for the keyboard reading process.

Sorry, but there's no getting around the need to 'learn' coding of either the PIC or the Arduino if you want to successfully create this as a project.

#### mcasey

Jul 9, 2016
64
Sounds like it's time to get to work for me! Thank you again for the help!

#### Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
5,856
Try Julian Ilett for some basics.
This was from quite a long time back but still applies.
As a side note, he has many interesting electronic videos on youtube.

#### Irv

Jun 7, 2017
112
The coding would be extremely simple, and would remain the same for each label, changing only the wording.

So, LCD for ~$6, cheap Arduino nano clones from China (don't knock 'em, they work fine) ~$4, power supply, which could handle several of these units, a few bucks. Some wire, and a container for the parts, ?$. As cool as this might seem, it's going to cost maybe$12 per unit. If I were going to spend that, I would try to add some kind of useful feature(s). I know! monitor and display the temp of those delicious BBQ beans! Use the second line of the display to thank the cook. Or dispense gastrointestinal advice, as required.

#### kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
4,852
These exist commercially. Way cool. No battery! Updated by RF.

http://www.usocard.com/Product/NFC_Series/NFC_Sticker_Tags/030J22017.html

There are others. Search "electronic shelf label" or "digital price tag."

Bob
Good find <thumbs up>

I expect such devices are not cheap - certainly when they don't publish the price openly (you have to ask!) you have to be cautious.

Apart from the label itself, you'd have to purchase the programmer.

#### BobK

Jan 5, 2010
7,682
Yeah, I doubt that they would even talk to someone who wants to buy 3 or 4 of them.

Bob

#### mcasey

Jul 9, 2016
64
Maybe we should make some. I'll provide the labor if you provide the brains

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