Basicx Char LCD Author: faceless105 -- Posted: 2006-10-15
Now I'll be honest, I don't think that there's to much that looks better then having a character LCD to go with your tricked out computer. Sadly the only ones that you regularly see are those ones that cost well over $100 and the only fit in a drive bay or two.
The great people over at http://www.basicx.com were nice enough to send me over a 20x4 character LCD to review and I have say this has been pretty fun to work with.
The first thing that caught my eye was the simplistic wiring. I tried one of these projects with another LCD and a guide I found on the internet a few years ago and after failing to solder the 20 or so wires to the LCD I gave up and it's been sitting in a box for about three years now untouched.
This LCD has only 5 pins that need an attention at all. Only 4 wires need to be connected to them at all. What's really great is, they have the pins already attached so if you can find something spaced out well enough then you're completely set, and guess what, the pins fit the internal connector of a com port perfectly (these were extremely common with AT motherboards). The wiring is also very easy to do.
This diagram explains all the wiring. This is extremely far from complex, which I can really appreciate. I originally wired this LCD for an internal connection as I was planning to mount it in my case, but soon after decided I wanted a nice internal look instead. In all, it only took me maybe 15-20 minutes to do all the soldering, this included getting my supplies out, and putting them away, like I said, this is great because the wiring is so simplex.
For anyone who's curious, this is what it all looked like wired up with my first wiring job.
Now as you can see that's a bit of a mess with cables so I decided I wanted to go with something a bit cleaner, and just as I expected, a usb cable made for internal connections to the motherboard fit like a snap as well, and here's a shot of my finished product.
The cable is unplugged in this shot just so I can keep it looking very clean, but as you can see, it's an extreme difference.
Now that the hardware aspect has been covered, I want to talk about the software side.
For anyone who's ever taken any intro to programming courses, they more then likely covered Basic. This language has been around for ever and was created with the purpose of teaching programming so anyone who wants can easily pick this up. This LCD is actually created to run from Basic programs, which makes it incredibly easy to customize to do whatever you want.
There is sample code provided from their site, http://basicx.com I also came across a DLL file with some commands on it called, PortAccess.dll.
These both allow you to easily send inputs to your LCD display.
[I dont have any pics of it working at the moment, but it is fully functional and i'll add the pics later tonight]
Now I have to say that I have really enjoyed working on this LCD. I love DIY projects and I love seeing char LCDs in peoples computers. The guys over at basicx.com have been really great in giving us this LCD to review. Now incase your wondering what this LCD is designed for it's pretty general purpose. You can also get it with the development kit where people use them in home security setups and their custom robotics. There's a lot of applications for these LCDs and this is just one of them.
Here's some helpful links and resources form this...
The place we got this LCD: http://www.basicx.com - priced at $55 for this model
The LCD Guide