Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cheap Graphics – Nokia 3310 LCD

It’s been aeons since I blogged last. I’ve kinda gotten rusty so I thought I’d begin small by blogging about something that’s been a work-in-progress for a quite a while.

I’m always looking for inexpensive ways to add ‘bling’ to my projects. A graphic LCD is a lovely way to add that extra bit of fun (and functionality) to an application. Granted, a graphical display may be total overkill in some situations, and may not even be required in others. But when it is necessary, the Nokia 3310 display is a cheap and easy way to display 48*84 pixels of graphics.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of driving the 3310 LCD – I simply followed the resource found online. Scroll to the end of this post to see what’s helped me out. In this post I’m going to condense the four years of dilly-dallying and playing around that was a ‘necessary’ prerequisite in learning to interface the 3310.

I bought my LCD from Lajpat Rai market in Old Delhi for Rs.120 (less than $3) from a mobile repair shop. If I had haggled I may have got it for 80 bucks. It took me two whole years to actually get down to interfacing it – the main thing that made me repeatedly postpone working on the LCD was the difficulty in interfacing. The pic below shows what I achieved in January of 2010. I used LCDInfo and connected the 3310 LCD to the parallel port of my IBM. The results were far from pretty, but I liked what I saw.

Messy wiringMy first attempt: messy, to say the least.

Again, my reluctance to work on this seriously was due to the fiddly wires and temperamental connections. So I made the connections slightly more reliable by using the plastic chassis of the phone and soldering a ribbon cable to the connector (which, by the way, is not too difficult).

TP1         TP2

The LCD being tested. Read more about how I interfaced a touchpad here.

In May of 2010 I used a touch pad and interfaced the LCD to it with a PIC. Pretty fun stuff. Here’s the post and a video. The LCD, however, still had a mind of its own, and would abruptly stop working due to poor connections.

Finally, a year later (in June 2011) I got down to making something much more reliable; something that would allow me to easily prototype with the LCD. Here are the results.

Top   Bottom
The LCD board.
Left: Top. Right: Bottom showing header.

LCD connector   Comparision
The LCD spring connector. Hand soldered and compared to a pen.

Marked   Sub assy
the veroboard marked for cutting with a Dremel.
Right: parts of the assembly.

It took me only a couple of hours with a Dremel, some cyanoacrylate glue, veroboard and some headers to make this. Now I can simply stick the board into a solderless breadboard. A backlight is missing, and is the order of business tomorrow. :-)


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