Introduction: TENEX - Solid State Volumetric OLED Display

About: I'm a content creator. I make open source projects and videos for said projects. My goal is to create free and open knowledge for everyone.

When we think of our future, we see floating holographic displays, screens and neon everywhere, and the most ridiculous technology. Now we just have boring flat high definition displays from TVs down to our phones and watches. We need to bring our true future forward, the one we always wanted starting with the ridiculously cool mono-colour displays and in this case, a solid state volumetric display.

Volumetric displays come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they generally rely on high frequency moving or spinning parts. Fast enough to cause some damage to humans if they were to come in contact with them. A solid state display uses layers of displays and pixels to give depth to the user.

Follow along if you want to try and build your own. This Instructable is not overly complicated but there is reflow soldering, and the connectors like to cook more than everything else and break. A steady hand is also required. Good luck!

Step 1: Watch the Video

To get you hyped up and see what this thing can do, check out the video I made of it.

Step 2: Parts and Tools


  • Custom TENEX PCB (Buy on PCBWay I get a percentage of the sale here too, so thanks!)
  • 10 x Transparent OLED Displays (CFAL12856A0-0151-B) (CrystalFonts(no affiliate) or Alibaba)
  • BOM for Circuit board - FindChips
  • M3 Heat Set Threaded Inserts (McMasterCarr)
  • M2 Heat Set Threaded Inserts
  • M3 x 18mm Flat head Screws
  • M3 x 8mm Round Head Screws
  • M2 x 6mm Round Head Screws
  • M2 x 6mm Flat Head Screws
  • Adafruit Feather M4 (Adafruit)
  • 12V Power Supply (Amazon Affiliate Link)
  • Black PLA Filament (Amazon Affiliate Link)
  • Acrylic 3mm (For lasercutting, Optional)
  • Solder Paste
  • Solder


Step 3: Start the 3D Printing

There are 4 parts to print(3 if you have a lasercutter). Start printing them while you work on other stuff.

Step 4: Build the PCB

I would suggest you buy a stencil when you purchase the PCB. The solder paste can be applied by hand, but much easier to use the stencil, especially because of all of the display connectors.

Semi-Pro tip: If you're using an infrared reflow oven, try to avoid the display connectors from getting direct IR light. They are black and will get much hotter, faster, and might burn before the board is finished reflowing.

Step 5: Assembly

Prints done? Check.

Time to install the threaded inserts and screw everything together.

Work your way from the bottom up. The displays go in last, and be really careful installing the ribbon cables...

Step 6: Programming

I have made some demo programs on the GitHub page for the project.

The basic principle is that each display operates the same way they would if you were using a single OLED display with the SSD1309 driver. The key difference is that they each are connected to the microcontroller with an individual Chip Select Pin. The displays are connect via SPI pins, and they're all connected together. So if you have to disable all the displays except for the one you are writing data to.

Step 7: Now What?

Ideally you're a better programmer than me and can come up with some really cool demos. I get by, but I'm barely scraping the surface of what is possible with these. There are some other potentials to improve the visuals like embedding them in clear resin, or removing polarizers. Need testing though.

If you build it, be sure to share it on my twitter. @idlehandsdev

I will also be giving one away there too.

Step 8: Support These Open Source Projects

These projects are free and open source. If you like what I do and want to support me, consider becoming a patron on Patreon.

SeanHodgins on Patreon

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