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Your Image on an Arduino! - TFT LCD Screen Guide

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Picture of Your Image on an Arduino! - TFT LCD Screen Guide
Have you ever heard of TFT LCD screens?  They are great ways to display information from your Arduino, or display pictures.  The Arduino team just released an official TFT LCD screen with their new Robot at Maker Faire 2013.  It's very easy to get started with!!  This tutorial will show you how to get the LCD up and running, load information from the SD card, and make a few simple projects.

The TFT LCD screen is a great way to detach your computer, and have the Arduino relay information that you need to know onto the LCD.  A great part of the LCD is that it has a built in microSD card socket.  You can store images on the microSD card socket, and even some text!

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Step 1: Parts & Tools

Picture of Parts & Tools
To make the project, you will need the following:

Parts:

Arduino UNO (Amazon, $22)
Arduino TFT LCD Screen (Arduino Store, ~$28)
ArduSensor Pot (Qtechknow, $8)
Half Sized Breadboard (Amazon, $5.50)
microSD Card 2GB (optional, Amazon, ~$6)
Jumper Wires

Tools:

USB-B Cable
Laptop
microSD Card Adapter & USB SD card reader

Step 2: TFT LCD Basics

Picture of TFT LCD Basics
TFT LCD Screens (Thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display) are great graphical displays to display information.  They are a variant of a liquid crystal display (LCD) which uses TFT technology to improve image qualities such as addressability and contrast.  They are used often in video games, smartphones, cell phones, and sometimes even TV's.  Now, with the technology and accessibility today, you can use one with your Arduino!

LCDs, or liquid crystal displays, are easy to use with your Arduino.  They are a very simple ways of telling the user data from the Arduino.  Standard 16x2 character LCDs are found in grocery stores, when the display tells you what you bought as the cashier scans each item, and how much it costs.
As usual , great job Qtechknow ! I always look forward to reading your posts .
Build_it_Bob
Qtechknow (author)  Build_it_Bob1 year ago
Thank you!!!
at0mbxmb1 year ago
This is a great instructable! I can't wait to get a screen and get it set up!
Qtechknow (author)  at0mbxmb1 year ago
Thanks!!!
nerd74731 year ago
wow
gusgus_21 year ago
sorry im relatively new to all this but would it be possible to display time on this tiny thing? like a bedside clock of some sort? thanks guys
gam cad gusgus_22 months ago

I'm sure in ten months you found this but arduino has a nice library for this.

Check out

http://playground.arduino.cc/Code/Time

skaar gusgus_211 months ago
sure, but without an rtc chip it might vary a bit.
paultnylund3 months ago
I want my image to rotate a certain number of degrees based on the signal input. How would I go about doing this? Thanks for the awesome instructable!
Qtechknow (author)  paultnylund2 months ago

You can replace the image every time the signal input changes - use the map() function to 'map' the number of degrees with the signal input, and just set the screen with a the same image, but rotated. Hope that helps!

dankaraji9 months ago
great tutorial...im trying to use this screen as a picture display,going through different picture every three to five seconds.but cant really figure out the code...can u tell me what to do
Qtechknow (author)  dankaraji6 months ago

I think that the easiest way of doing this would be to display a picture, erase it, and delay. I would make a cycle of pictures, and then display them one at a time and erase them one at a time.

TREX ZoaR0K9 months ago
saw your article in popular science
brunoip1 year ago
It seems that the white board of the screen is not aligned with the screen, is this right?
Qtechknow (author)  brunoip10 months ago
Yes, I'm not sure why though.
hunterakagman11 months ago
Can this play video?
Qtechknow (author)  hunterakagman10 months ago
Not yet, but if you sequence images quickly, you can create a cool 'animation' effect!
pabhilash1 year ago
Actual Arduino board = $22
TFT screen = $28 :(
emer_31 pabhilash11 months ago
Not necesary, i use this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/130906317995?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649
Is cheaper and functional. And i found information right here :http://blog.simtronyx.de/en/a-1-8-inch-tft-color-display-hy-1-8-spi-and-an-arduino/
OH MY GOD!!! I am about to turn 12 and i KNow what i want for Christmas.

I am a 11 year old boy and I love enginnering and i just found out about ardino in the summer time! I saw you in popular science and I thought that was epic!!! I am going to begin using ardino . Keep up the epicnesss-Tesla
Qtechknow (author)  tesla00000011 months ago
Thanks!!!! Hope you like your Arduino! Post what you make!
Project 231 year ago
http://www.instructables.com/community/Instructables-android-ios-app-improvement-idea/
JesusGeek1 year ago
Can't wait to find an unofficial one for cheaper!
I'm not sure if this is the exact one you're looking for but here are 2:
3.2" TFT LCD on ebay:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/3-2-inch-TFT-LCD-module-Display-with-touch-panel-SD-card-240x320-than-128x64-lcd-/221251358532?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33839bcf44

or the 2.4" TFT LCD:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/2-4-inch-TFT-LCD-Module-Screen-240-x-320-Pixels-ILI9325-Arduino-Compatible-/390620881356?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5af2d1a1cc
rhess11 year ago
A Very good explanation. I do notice this ties up quite a few pins (thus reducing capability for other functions) I wonder if an i2C shift register could reduce the pin load...
zwilson51 year ago
Is there a way to switch between the displayed image files manually? I would love to be able to throw a rotary switch on there to switch the pics
Qtechknow (author)  zwilson51 year ago
I don't believe that you can hook up a potentiometer up to the TFT LCD directly, but you can attach it to the Arduino, and switch the pictures!
billbillt1 year ago
GREAT
Can you use the LCD to show animated files like animated .GIFs, .AVI movies, ect.?
Probably, but I'm not sure. I think that you would have to split up all of the individual images on the .GIF, and then convert them to bitmaps to show them.
agis681 year ago
I guess you can do this with any lcd screen even with a nokia screen (lower resolution but very cheap)
Qtechknow (author)  agis681 year ago
I believe so, but you would have to make sure that the screen works with SPI (what the Arduino TFT library uses).