OLED I2C Display Arduino/NodeMCU Tutorial

About: There were 1000+ sperms but I was the fastest one..

The very first program you write when you start learning a

new programming language is: "Hello World!".

The program itself does nothing more than printing a “Hello World” text on the screen.

So, how do we get our Arduino to display the "Hello World!"?

In this video, I will be showing you how to get started with the small 0.91 (128x32) and 0.96 (128x64) I2C OLED displays.

There are 100s of tutorials on the web explaining the same thing in different ways, but I couldn't find one that tells me all about the OLED display and how to use it in different scenarios. It took me some time to work it all out. So, I thought I should create a tutorial on what I have learned and combine all the features and ways the OLED displays can be used in our projects.

Step 1: Things We Are Going to Learn Today

In this video we will be talking about:

- What is an OLED display?

- Then we will have a closer look at the 0.91 (128x32) and 0.96 (128x64) I2C OLED displays

- Next we will talk about installing the Adafruit Library to your Arduino IDE

- Then we will connect NodeMCU and Arduino to an OLED display

- Next we will have a look at the code and display some graphics and text on it

- We will also talk about applying Custom Fonts and displaying Images

- Then we will connect Multiple OLEDs to a micro-controller using I2C Multiplexer

- Finally, we will talk about few common errors people make while using the OLED displays

Step 2: Hardware Requirement

For this tutorial we need:

- A Breadboard

- A 0.91" (128x32) and 0.96" (128x64) I2C OLED displays

- Arduino UNO/NANO (whatever is handy)

- NodeMCU

- TCA9548A I2C multiplexer

- Few Connecting Cables

- and a USB cable to upload the code

Step 3: What Is an OLED Display?

OLED or organic light-emitting diode is a light-emitting

diode (LED) in which the emissive electroluminescent layer is a film of organic compound (millions of small LED lights) that emits light in response to an electric current.

OLEDs are used to create digital displays in devices such as television screens, computer monitors, portable systems such as mobile phones, hand-held game consoles and PDAs. An OLED display works without a backlight because it emits visible light.

Step 4:

There are many types of OLED displays available in the

market based on their

- Sizes

- Color

- Brands

- Protocol

- SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) or I2C

- Passive-matrix (PMOLED) or active-matrix (AMOLED) control scheme

In this tutorial, I am going to talk about connecting the

blue color 0.91 (128x32 OLED) and 0.96 (128x64 OLED) I2C OLDE displays to an Arduino NANO and NodeMCU. I2C bus technology uses only 2 pins of the MCU so we have heaps available for other sensors.

Step 5: Closer Look

Lets have a closer at these two displays.

At the back of these displays there are heaps of SMD capacitors and resistors soldered on-board; but, since its an I2C device we only care about these 2 pins (SCL and SDA)

The display connects to Arduino using only four wires – two for power (VCC and GND) and two for data (serial clock SCL and

serial data SDA), making the wiring very simple. The data connection is I2C (I²C, IIC or Inter-Integrated Circuit) and this interface is also called TWI (Two Wire Interface).

- The on-board pins can be in different order, so always triple check before hooking it up to your project.

- Operation voltage is between 3v to 5v but, it is best to use the guidance from the manufacturer's datasheet.

- Sometimes we need to use 2 displays in our projects. So, how can we achieve this?

The trick is to have a configurable address on your display. This unit has a configurable address between 0x78 and 0x7A. Just by unsoldering the 0Ohm resistor from one side and hoking it up to the other side or just by putting a global solder we can change the address. We will talk about it in depth when we hook up multiple displays to an Arduino in the later section of this tutorial.

In picture these displays look very big. But, practically speaking they are tiny. They are made of 128 x 32/64 individual OLED pixels and do not require any back-light. Just have a look at this and see how small it is. Even though they are small they can be very useful in any electronic projects.

Step 6: Library

There are several libraries available to control these

displays. In past I have used the "u8glib library" but I find the AdaFruit library very easy to understand and use in our projects. So, I am going to use the AdaFruit library in this tutorial.

To control the OLED display you’ll need the "adafruit_GFX.h" library and the "adafruit_SSD1306.h" library.

There are two ways you can download and install the library to your Arduino IDE.

Method 1

Go to the "Library manager" and search "adafruit_SSD1306" and "adafruit_gfx"

Select the latest version and hit the Install button.

Once installed you can use these libraries in your program.

Method 2

These two libraries can be also be downloaded from github (you need both):

I will provide the links in the description below.

The display library: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_SSD1306

The GFX library: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit-GFX-Library

Once downloaded, copy the Adafruit_SSD1306-master folder from the downloaded zipped file into the Arduino libraries folder. This folder is usually found at Documents > Arduino > libraries on Windows systems. On Linux it is usually found at home folder > Arduino > libraries. Finally in the Arduino library folder, rename the Adafruit_SSD1306-master folder to Adafruit_SSD1306. Even if you don’t rename that’s fine.

Step 7:

Now, lets have a look at the "Adafruit_SSD1306.h"

file

Two things we need to know in this library:

1. If you want to use the smaller display use the default 128_32 otherwise for the bigger display comment the 128_32 and uncomment the 128_64

2. If you have soldered the 0x7A Address on the board (which we will talk about later) then use the 7 bit 0x3D address for the bigger displays, otherwise use the default 0x3C address. For the smaller displays the address is 0x3C.

Step 8: Wiring 128 X 64/32 OLEDs

Lets start by connecting the NodeMCU to the display.

The first and most important thing to note is that some of the displays may have the GND and VCC power pins swapped around. Check your display to make sure that it is the same as the image. If the pins are swapped, make sure to change the connections to the Arduino or NodeMCU.

- NodeMCU OLED Wiring

OLED VCC – NodeMCU 3.3V

OLED GND – NodeMCU GND

OLED SCL – NodeMCU D1

OLED SDA – NodeMCU D2

- Arduino Uno OLED Wiring

OLED VCC – Arduino 5V

OLED GND – Arduino GND

OLED SCL – Arduino Uno A5

OLED SDA – Arduino Uno A4

- Arduino MEGA 2560 OLED Wiring

OLED VCC – Arduino 5V

OLED GND – Arduino GND

OLED SCL – Arduino MEGA 2560 pin 21

OLED SDA – Arduino MEGA 2560 pin 20

Step 9: Code

Adafruit library comes with really good examples for both

128x32 and 128x64 displays.

The Library is located under File > Examples > Adafruit SSD1306 > and then the display type in the Arduino IDE.

We are going to use the 128x32 I2C example and will modify it to work with both 128x64 and 128x32 displays fist by hooking it up to an Arduino and then to a NodeMCU board.

The code starts by including both the Adafruit libraries. In this tutorial I am going to stress on only those parts of the code which are necessary for us to load on both boards and displays. If you want to know more about the code please drop a comment on my blog or in the comments section below and I endeavour to get back to you.

- First we are going to load the code to an Arduino Nano connected to a 128x32 display.

We can use the code as is without any modifications.

128x32 uses 0x3C address so this bit looks all good here, lets double check the header library, yes its also using the 0x3C address and the display type is 128x32.

- Now lets connect the 128x64 display. As we know it uses the 0x3C address by default so we don't need to update the address in either the code or the library.

We just need we need to comment the 128_32 and uncomment the 128_64 in the header library and change the LCDHEIGHT to 64 in our code.

- Now to run the same code on a NodeMCU we need to change one more line in our code.

The "#define OLED_RESET 4" > "#define OLED_RESET LED_BUILTIN" rest of the code is same as Arduino

Pretty much to display anything we first need to clear the previous screen using

display.clearDisplay(); // Clear the buffer

Then draw the object

testdrawline(); // Draw a line

Show it on the hardware

display.display(); // Make them visible on the display hardware!

Wait for some time before displaying the next item.

delay(2000); // Wait for 2 seconds

In this example we are displaying few items like text, lines, circles, scrolling text, triangles and more. Go ahead and use your imagination and display whatever you want on these tiny displays.

Step 10: Customizing Text & Adding Images

Sometimes your code needs to display custom fonts and

images. If you are very good in bit mapping then you just need to create a byte arrays by turning on or off the tiny LEDs of the display to create custom fonts and images.

However, I am not very good in doing these mappings and don't want to spend hours creating the bit map tables.

So, what are my options? I generally use two websites to generate custom fonts and images. The links are provided in the description below.

Custom Fonts

------------

Go to the font converter website, select the font family, style, size, Library Version as "Adafruit GFX Font" and then hit the "Create" button. On the right hand side of this page you can see how your font is going to look like on the actual display.

Based on your selection the webpage generates the fonts header file. Create a file called "modified_font.h" in the same folder where your code is and copy and save the generated code into it. Then you just need to include the header file in your code to use the custom font.

#include "modified_font.h"

Then, you just need to set the font before displaying the text to apply the custom font to it.

display.setFont(&Your_Fonts_Name);

You can get the name of the font from the header file you just added to your project. Thats it, easy.

Memory is always a concern while using custom fonts, so always consider the bytes that will be consumed by the memory. Just remember Arduino UNO has only 32K of memory.

Custom Images

-------------

To display a bitmap image on your screen you first need to create a 128 x 64/32 sized image.

I am using the good old "MS Paint" to create a 128 x 64 bitmap image which I will then upload to this image converter website. The website converts images into byte-strings, which can be used with Arduino and OLED displays.

Start by uploading the image to the website. Then put a check on the "Invert image colors" check-box and change the "Output code format" to "Arduino Code" next select the orientation and hit the "Generate Code" button to generate the byte array. The "Preview" section shows you how your image will look like on the actual display.

I have included the code along with this tutorial which you can use to display your images. You just need to replace the array in my code with the one you just generated and then load it to your Arduino.

Step 11: Connecting 2 Displays

Connecting two 128 x 64 displays to your project is easy.

You just need to unsolder the 0Ohm resistor from 0x78 address and put it on 0x7A and then use the 0x3D address in your code instead of the default 0x3C.

You must be wondering why we are using the 0x3C and 0x3D address and not the actual 0x78 and 0x7A. Arduino accepts 7-bit address and not the 8-bit hardware addresses. So, we first need to convert the 8-bit address to binary, and then chop off the least significant bit to get the 7 bits. Then convert the 7 bits to HEX to get the 0x3C or 0x3D addresses which you enter in your code.

First, initialize the display by giving it a unique name:

Adafruit_SSD1306 display1(OLED_REST);

Adafruit_SSD1306 display2(OLED_REST);

Then in your code use the display 1 and display 2 to call the begin statements with the device addresses in them:

display1.begin(SSD1306_SWITCHCAPVCC, 0x3C); // display 1 op address 0x3C

display2.begin(SSD1306_SWITCHCAPVCC, 0x3D); // display 2 op address 0x3D

That's it, you can now go ahead and do whatever you want using either Display 1 or Display 2 in the rest of your code. I have provided an example with this tutorial.

Wiring is exactly the same as what we have done before, pretty much you just need to add another display to the same I2C pins of either the Arduino or NodeMCU. Based on the addresses, the MCU then sends the data on the I2C data line.

Step 12: Connecting More Than 2 Displays

Now, what if you want to hook up more than 2 displays?

Arduino has limited number of pins and hence you cannot have more than a certain amount of shields attached to it. Moreover, it has only one pair of I2C buses.

So, how can we attach more than 2 I2C displays to an Arduino? The trick is to use a TCA9548 Multiplexer.

TCA9548 allows a single micro-controller to communicate with up to '64 sensors' all with the same or different I2C address by assigning a unique channel to each sensor slave sub-bus.

When we talk about sending data over 2 wires to multiple devices we then need a way to address them. Its same as the postman coming on a single road and dropping the mail packets to different houses because they have different addresses written on them.

The Multiplexer connects to 3V3, GND, SDA and SCL lines of the micro-controller. The slave sensors are connected to one of eight SCL/SDA slave ports on the board. The channels are selected by sending the TCA9548A its I2C address (0x70 {default} - 0x77) followed by the channel number (0b00000001 - 0b10000000). You could have at the max 8 of these multiplexers connected together on 0x70-0x77 addresses in order to control 64 of the same I2C addressed parts. By connecting the three address bits A0, A1 and A2 to VIN you can get different combination of the addresses. I will explain this in-depth in my next tutorial on TCA9548A breakout board. For now, lets just hook up 8 OLEDs to this board and have a quick look at the code.

Connection:

VIN to 5V (or 3.3V)

GND to ground

SCL to I2C clock

SDA to I2C data

Then wire up the sensors to VIN, GND and use one of the SCn / SDn multiplexed buses

Now, Int the code lets start by including the "Wire" library and by defining the multiplexers address.

#include "Wire.h"

#include

#define MUX_Address 0x70 // TCA9548A Encoders address

Then we need to select the port we want to communicate to and send the data on it using this function:

void tcaselect(uint8_t i) {

if (i > 7) return;

Wire.beginTransmission(MUX_Address);

Wire.write(1 << i);

Wire.endTransmission();

}

Next we will initialize the display in the setup section by calling "u8g.begin();" for each display attached to the MUX "tcaselect(i);"

Once initialized, we can then do whatever we want just by calling the function "tcaselect(i);" where "i" is the value of the multiplexed bus and then sending the data and clock accordingly.

Step 13: Advantages and Disadvantages

The image of an OLED is beautiful. However, OLEDs also have

disadvantages. Because OLED screens contain organic material, their lifespan is shorter than LCD displays. Additionally, many OLED displays get burn-ins after showing the same image for a long time. After a burn-in, the image stays on the screen even after showing another image. So make sure you keep refreshing the screen every few seconds. Water can instantly damage the organic materials of these displays.

Advantages

No need for a backlight

Displays are very thin and lightweight

Low power consumption

Viewing angles are wider than LCDs

Brightness and contrast are great

High speed and have low response time

Deep black color

Disadvantages

Costly technology

Short lifecycle

OLEDS are more likely to burn-in

Water damage

Step 14: Common Errors

To conclude the tutorial lets talk about few common errors

people make while using these displays:

- Always triple check the pins before using it in your project

- Pick up the right library address in the header file and in your code

#define SSD1306_I2C_ADDRESS 0x3C // in Adafruit_SSD1306.h

and

display.begin(SSD1306_SWITCHCAPVCC, 0x3C); // in your code

If the address is wrong the OLED will not display anything

- The display size must be changed in the driver before it can be used. If it is not changed you will get an error message when attempting to verify the code

#error ("Height incorrect, please fix Adafruit_SSD1306.h!");

- If using NodeMCU make sure you replace the OLED_RESET from 4 to LED_BUILTIN

#define OLED_RESET LED_BUILTIN

I have scene people making all sorts of things using this OLED display. Some have even made video games and all. I am really not interested in making a video game using this tiny display. However, I will now leave you to explore your imaginations and come out with amazing ideas.

Step 15: Links

- Blog: http://diyfactory007.blogspot.com.au

- Add Image: http://javl.github.io/image2cpp/

- Custom Text: http://oleddisplay.squix.ch/#/home

- Adafruit display library: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_SSD1306

- Adafruit GFX library: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit-GFX-Library

- u8glib library: https://code.google.com/archive/p/u8glib/ or https://github.com/olikraus/u8glib

If you want to use the smaller display use the default 128_32 otherwise for the bigger display comment the 128_32 and uncomment the 128X64 NO_ACK in your code (just uncomment the type of screen you are using) (fonts are in the fonts library)

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