Learn how to use very inexpensive KTM-S1201 LCD modules in this edition of our Arduino tutorials. This is chapter forty-nine of a series originally titled “Getting Started/Moving Forward with Arduino!” by John Boxall – A tutorial on the Arduino universe. The first chapter is here, the complete series is detailed here.
After looking for some displays to use with another (!) clock, I came across some 12-digit numeric LCD displays. They aren’t anything flash, and don’t have a back light – however they were one dollar each. How could you say no to that? So I ordered a dozen to try out. The purpose of this tutorial is to show you how they are used with an Arduino in the simplest manner possible.
Moving forward – the modules look like OEM modules for desktop office phones from the 1990s:
They aren’t difficult to use, so I’ll run through set up and operation with a few examples.
First you’ll need to solder some sort of connection to the module – such as 2×5 header pins. This makes it easy to wire it up to a breadboard or a ribbon cable:
The rest of the circuitry is straight-forward. There are ten pins in two rows of five, and with the display horizontal and the pins on the right, they are numbered as such:
Now make the following connections:
- LCD pin 1 to 5V
- LCD pin 2 to GND
- LCD pin 3 to Arduino D4
- LCD pin 4 to Arduino D5
- LCD pin 5 to Arduino D6
- LCD pin 6 to Arduino D7
- LCD pin 7 – not connected
- LCD pin 8 – Arduino D8
- LCD pin 9 to the centre pin of a 10k trimpot – whose other legs connect to 5V and GND. This is used to adjust the contrast of the LCD.
The Arduino digital pins that are used can be changed – they are defined in the header file (see further on). If you were curious as to how low-current these modules are:
That’s 0.689 mA- not bad at all. Great for battery-powered operations. Now that you’ve got the module wired up, let’s get going with some demonstration sketches.
The sketches used in this tutorial are based on work by Jeff Albertson and Robert Mech, so kudos to them – however we’ve simplified them a little to make use easier. We’ll just cover the functions required to display data on the LCD. However feel free to review the sketches and files along with the controller chip datasheet as you’ll get an idea of how the controller is driven by the Arduino.
When using the LCD module you’ll need a header file in the same folder as your sketch. You can download the header file from here. Then every time you open a sketch that uses the header file, it should appear in a tab next to the main sketch, for example (click to enlarge):
There’s also a group of functions and lines required in your sketch. We’ll run through those now – so download the first example sketch, add the header file and upload it. Your results should be the same as the video below:
So how did that work? Take a look at the sketch you uploaded. You need all the functions between the two lines of “////////////////////////” and also the five lines in void setup(). Then you can display a string of text or numbers using
which was used in void loop(). You can use the digits 0~9, the alphabet (well, what you can do with 7-segments), the degrees symbol (use an asterix – “*”) and a dash (use - “-”). So if your sketch can put together the data to display in a string, then that’s taken care of.
If you want to clear the screen, use:
Next – to individually place digits on the screen, use the function:
Where n is the number to be displayed (zero or a positive integer), p is the position on the LCD for the number’s (the positions from left to right are 11 to 0…), d is the number of digits to the right of the decimal point (leave as zero if you don’t want a decimal point), and l is the number of digits being displayed for n. When you display digits using this function you can use more than one function to compose the number to be displayed – as this function doesn’t clear the screen.
To help get your head around it, the following example sketch (download) has a variety of examples in void loop(). You can watch this example in the following video:
So there you have it – an incredibly inexpensive and possibly useful LCD module. Thank you to Jeff Albertson and Robert Mech for their help and original code.
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