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DIY Arduino LCD backpack

DIY Arduino LCD backpack

From the MAKE Flickr pool

Bryan “linux-works” Levin built this Arduino compatible LCD backpack

all the wiring needed to connect the LCD, the IR input module, power, lcd contrast, pwm-based dimming and a 6pin FTDI style usb serial header for upload of new firmware.

the IR module is in silver (left) and was a very old radio shack module.

the 6 pin header is via the wire harness; it was hard to solder the 6 pin header ‘in reverse’ on this kind of single sided board and this board is not very strong (the header could lift off the board with enough unpluggings). so my solution was to use the wire, itself, as a strain-relief.

this cable also is an easy way to give the circuit power (5vdc).

More project pics available in his Flickr photostream.

13 thoughts on “DIY Arduino LCD backpack

  1. Anonymous says:

    Am I missing something—what is the use of this article if there are NO instructions on how to MAKE it?

  2. linux-works says:

    hi, anon.

    I just barely finished building it, have had NO time to document it other than photos.

    a more detailed write-up is planned, but makezine posted the photos a bit earlier (which is fine) than I had planned ;)

    you can’t always expect projects to be at the completion stage, just because some work-in-progress photos are posted, can you?

    eventually, once I work out where all the chips will be (maybe more than just the cpu) I’ll try a pc board layout. but for right now, I hope the photos are clear enough (if you look at fullsize) so that the wiring should be easily visible. so, if you really can’t wait for the build-it docs, the schematic *is* really there inside the photos. I try to pride myself on making quality tech photos that are useful in actually seeing where things go.


    1. salman says:

      Don’t get us excited and then leave us hanging with no instructions yet…

  3. linux-works says:

    perhaps it was my fault for posting to the flicker site that has a ‘make’ photo group in it.

    does posting a photo there imply that you are fully done with a design? that wasn’t my take on the photo groups.

    twice, so far, I’ve had photos that I post to flicker ‘grabbed’ and posted to various blogs (here and also one on hack-a-day). both times, I was not even *notified* of this – I simply saw a high hit-count on my photos and asked where the referrers were coming from. neither site seems to have the courtesy to tell the authors that they ‘borrowed’ their photos for inclusion in some other aggregation service.

    I can deal with that.

    but please realize that just because something is posted to a site like this, it does NOT meant the AUTHOR has done it! if I had posted this, yes, there would be a more complete write-up along with the photos. I can’t be responsible if an aggregation site grabs my work in an intermediate form and ‘runs with it’.

    just not my fault. please understand this before you comment about ‘lack of docs’ on this project.

    I *will* be creating docs. but all in good time, once the R/D work is done. makes sense, doesn’t it?


    1. Collin Cunningham says:

      Sharing photos of your work in no way necessitates that you publish documentation/source.

      I was browsing the Flickr pool and enjoyed your photos, plus found your description/approach to construction interesting.

      To put it simply – I thought it was cool :)
      The other folks leaving comments here are just anxious to make it themselves and it seems they’d prefer to follow your lead.
      Don’t sweat it & thanks much for sharing!

  4. linux-works says:

    what’s a little bit funny (to me) is that this lcd backpack is part of a bigger project; and that’s the one that first appeared on hack-a-day under the ‘spdif switch’ title. that got posted the same way, on their site. and folks were asking for full build-it info, then, too ;)

    one of the first things I wanted to re-do was the lcd part. I brought that far enough to get things working, then turned my attention to the spdif switch guts.

    as I worked on the spdif project, the lcd backpack got ‘noticed’. and that’s cool ;) but there is still a lot more testing to do before I can feel good about finalizing things and spending time on eagle libraries and pcb layouts.

    I’m hoping people can see that they caught these 2 projects (or parts of them) right in the middle of *being* developed. I’m photographing various steps I take in the design and development. you’re seeing into how I think and react to problems, in a way, via the photo trail. maybe it will be useful. or entertaining ;)

    I’ll keep this thread updated as I get closer to firming up the pin def’s and any pcb’s that I can come up with. I plan to release the schematics, gerbers, all that stuff. source code is already up on my site (for now, must use direct link, though: ).


  5. Anonymous says:

    I am the first anon—I have no complaints to/about you.

    This is a MAKE blog and I was trying to let them know that it’s a waste of my time to go to project that isn’t ready. If they just say that it’s currently not compleate, them I would wait to look at it—basically the same point you made about them being inconsiderate.

    The fact that I complained should tell you that I like your project!–Thanks.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I integrated it with a prototype product:

      I have it controlling a stereo DAC, now. it fits nicely in a common hammond metal box. I love how it does not take up much room and leaves the rest of the box for the native functionality ;)

      I’m working on getting a pcboard layout done for this backpack. when its ready, I’ll post an update for folks to try (home made pcb’s with toner transfer or photo method should be enough to get this pcb made).


  6. linux-works says:

    see this link for more info:

    we’ve sent off our order for 20 boards, initially. once the beta test is over, we’ll order things in higher quantity.

    a friend of mine (who helped with the pc layout) will be selling them in his e-store: will have a link to buy these once we have them in stock).

    also to come: audio items such as the burr-brown PGA volume control chip (arduino controlled) and also an SPDIF switch that uses this lcd module and controller.


  7. Anonymous says:

    my friend (Ti at AMB labs) and I (linux-works) would like to announce our LCDuino-1 project:

    the boards are already back we’ve built a working sample.

    a more formal write-up will follow.

    and, of course, ‘apps’ that this board will talk to. initially, we are focused on audio things (digitally controlled analog volume controls, input selectors, digital audio switches, powerline selectors) but anything that needs an lcd, a clock with backup and an arduino might make use of this integrated board.


  8. asghar says:

    dear sir,
    we r using dell lcd 1901fp when we power on it displays for 2 sec and then disply off but power led shows on, again we poweroff and on it it shows for two sec again disply disapper kindly suggest exact position to check

    You could have an inverter board problem. The inverter supplies high voltage to the CCFL lamp which provides the back-lighting.
    For service. parts and DIY info check out LCD Parts – click in this link to their WEB site

  9. Bryan Levin says:

    its been a while, but just to update everyone, we do have shipping v1.0 boards available.  the primary intention of the LCDuino system was to drive DIY audio systems (volume control, input selection, other features) but the LCDuino-1 can be used for other things, as well. early on, I had one of the modules control my espresso machine, which I called ‘ESPRESSOmaster’ ;)

    the LCDuino-1 is now a 4-layer board and includes a RTC chip with supercap backup, i2c port expander to drive the LCD, motor-driver H-bridge (we use that mostly for our motorized volume control pots) and IR receiver.  all user-pins on the cpu chip are brought out to easy solder pads.

    you can find them at our web store:

    the source code for our first app, ‘Volu-Master’, is also available (builds under the IDE as well as makefile based linux builds) at that same link.  other application modules (delta1 relay volume controller and delta2 relay i/o selector) are also available for sale and work as a whole system with the ‘Volu-Master’ code base.  there is a whole LCD gui for configuration, IR receiver learning and many other functions in Volu-Master.  we have been working on it for quite some time (both the hardware and software) and hope its of use to the DIY community.

  10. Arduino Radio Shack Ir Receiver – Adidass News says:

    […] DIY Arduino LCD backpack – the IR module is in silver (left) and was a very old radio shack module. the 6 pin header is via the wire harness; it was hard to solder the 6 pin header ‘in reverse’ on this kind of single sided board and this board is not very strong (the header … […]

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