Getting Started with Arduino TFT Display
The Arduino TFT display shows data from the Arduino board on a nice 2 inch color TFT display. It has resolution of 240×320 pixels, making it very nice and easy to read the information from your Arduino boards. It can be used on many different Arduino boards, such as the Arduno Uno, Duemilanove, Leonardo and Mega 2560 boards. The best part about this display is that it’s super easy to use and has lots of functionality, like being able to display images in full color! Let’s learn more about using the TFT display with Arduino!
Things you will need
Arduino (any model will do for now), Arduino Ethernet Shield, Arduino SD card library, and Arduino TFT display. You will also need an SD card reader to load your sketch onto your Arduino. An ethernet cable is necessary to connect your display to your network. If you have a smartphone or tablet you should be able to use it too, but an ethernet cable is recommended in case there are any connection issues. The arduino tft shield needs 5V power from a separate adapter (not USB) but it has no regulators or smoothing capacitors so a regulated and smoothed 5V is required if you are supplying power over USB.
Arduino Boards and Shields
Arduino boards, like Uno and Pro Mini, work in tandem with shields: add-on boards that extend a board’s functionality. One of these is an Arduino TFT display shield, which gives you control over a 2.4-inch full color LCD screen. It also comes with built-in graphics libraries for drawing graphics quickly and easily (and eliminating any Arduino sketch complexity). This guide shows you how to get started using one of these screens on your Arduino projects.
Setting up your Arduino IDE
Before you can run your first Arduino sketch, you need to setup your Arduino IDE properly. One of the main differences between using a simple Arduino Uno and an Arduino TFT display is that in order to use an Arduino TFT display you need to download a special library for it. In addition, there are some other libraries that may be needed depending on what features of your display you will be using (or planning on using). After downloading and installing these libraries, we can then set up our IDE environment so we can use them easily when writing our sketches. It’s very important to have these libraries loaded correctly or else they won’t work at all.
Installing the Arduino Fonts
Before you can begin working with an Arduino display, you must first install a font library. This allows your text to show up on your display. It’s a painless process, but may take several minutes. You’ll need to connect your Arduino and open the IDE while it’s connected in order for the font installation to work correctly.
The Hardware Connections
The SparkFun FOLDABLE RGB 16×2 LCD is designed to be controlled via I2C (TWI), but it also has SPI, UART, and GPIO interfaces. The default address for both I2C and SPI is 0x3F, or 103 in decimal notation. A handy little cheat sheet for how to connect your own electronics to each interface is available on our hardware pages! We’ve created a tutorial that walks you through making a few different connections to get your OLED display up and running.
The Software Installation
Before you can start using an Arduino TFT display, you’ll need to install a few libraries. This process is easy and straightforward for Windows, Mac and Linux users. Connect your board and run Sketch > Include Library > Manage Libraries (File > Examples > 01.Basics). Search for TinyWireM, then select it from your list of results and click Install.
The Example Code
The Adafruit_SSD1306 library is designed to make it easy to get up and running. It displays text, images and animations on a 2×16, 2×20 or 2×40 pixel monochrome LCD screen (the display used in their LCD Keypad Shield Kit). On a 16×2 display you can fit about 3 lines of text (depending on what font you use). If you’re looking for more space for text, but still don’t need color or graphics, there are larger SSD1306 compatible displays available such as Adafruit’s Viki shield that has a 128×64 pixel graphical OLED-compatible display. That will give you plenty of room for basic GUI interfaces using buttons, checkboxes and scrollbars.