Introduction: Setting Up the Circuit

Picture of Setting Up the Circuit

The following information is a single lesson in a larger project. Find more great projects here.

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Lesson Overview:

Now we'll build our simple circuit!

Step 1: Connecting Power and Ground

Picture of Connecting Power and Ground

Before we start, be aware that the circuit is not overly complex, but there are a lot of wires. Pay attention when wiring everything up to make sure it’s correct!

Start off by connecting the power and ground rails to the Arduino, as usual.

  1. Connect the 5V and GND pins on the Arduino to the 5 volt and ground voltage rails on the breadboard.

  2. Continue to the next step.

Step 2: Add the Tilt Switch

Picture of Add the Tilt Switch

Next, place the tilt switch on the breadboard. You’re wiring this as a digital input, just as you’ve done in several other projects.

  1. Place the tilt switch on the breadboard in rows D and E near the left edge.
  2. Connect the left side of the tilt switch to the 5 volt rail.
  3. Connect the right side of the tilt switch to digital pin 6 on the Arduino.
  4. Finally, add the 10 k-ohm pulldown resistor, which connects the right terminal to ground.
  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 3: LCD Pins

Picture of LCD Pins

Let's take a moment to review the control pins on the LCD screen that we will be using

  1. The register select (RS) pin controls where the characters will appear on screen.
  2. The read/write pin (R/W) puts the screen in read or write mode. You’ll be using the write mode in this project.
  3. The enable (EN) tells the LCD that it will be receiving a command.
  4. The data pins (D0-D7) are used to send character data to the screen. You’ll only be using 4 of these (D4-D7).
  5. Finally, there’s a connection (V0) for adjusting the contrast of the display. You’ll use a potentiometer to control this.
  6. Continue to the next step.

Step 4: Connecting LCD Power

Picture of Connecting LCD Power

You're going to start by attaching the LCD to the breadboard (it's pins are spaced perfectly for fitting into a row of breadboard sockets). Then you will create all of the power and ground connections.

  1. Connect pins 1, 5, and 16 to the ground rail of the breadboard. Pin 5 (the R/W) pin puts the LCD screen in "write mode."
  2. Connect pin 2 to the 5 volt rail of the breadboard. This is the Vcc pin, where the LCD draws power.
  3. Connect pin 15 to the 5 volt rail through a 220 ohm resistor. This is called the LED + pin.
  4. Continue to the next step.

Step 5: Connecting LCD Data Pins

Picture of Connecting LCD Data Pins

Next connect: LCD pins D7, D6, D5, and D4 (pins 14-11) to Arduino digital pins 2 through 5, respectively. These are the data pins that tell the screen what character to display. We recommend using the picture below as a guide!

  1. Connect LCD pin D4 (or 11) to digital pin 5 on the Arduino.
  2. Connect LCD pin D5 (or 12) to digital pin 4 on the Arduino.
  3. Connect LCD pin D6 (or 13) to digital pin 3 on the Arduino.
  4. Connect LCD in D7 (or 14) to digital pin 2 on the Arduino.
  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 6: Connecting the LCD (3)

Picture of Connecting the LCD (3)

The following connections enable writing to the LCD.

Again, you can use the picture as a guide! If you haven't done so already, it is helpful to use multiple wire colors to distinguish the connections from each other.

  1. Connect EN (or pin 6) to pin 11 on the Arduino.

  2. Connect RS (or pin 4) to pin 12 on the Arduino.

  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 7: Add the Potentiometer

Picture of Add the Potentiometer

This is the last step! Place the potentiometer on the breadboard, connecting it to power, ground, and V0 on the LCD. This will allow you to change the contrast of the screen.

Notice that the potentiometer is not connected to the Arduino! It independently interacts with the LCD.

  1. Place the potentiometer on the breadboard between the tilt sensor and the LCD connection wires. In the simulator, it will go over the center gap in the breadboard.
  2. Connect the left terminal of the pot to the 5 volt rail, and the right terminal to ground.
  3. Connect the middle terminal of the pot to the V0 pin (or pin 3) on the LCD.
  4. Continue to the next step to learn how to generate random messages on the Crystal Ball!

Next Lesson:Writing the Code

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Bio: Learn electronics and Arduino with Tinkercad Circuits!
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