What’s up with HD44780 LCD displays?


Nerd Ralph writes:

There’s lots of projects and code online for using character LCD displays based on these controllers, particularly the ones with 2 rows of 16 characters (1602).  They’re low power (~1mA @5V), and for only $2 each, they’re the cheapest LCD modules I’ve found.  The controllers are over 20 years old, so as a mature technology you might think there’s not much new to learn about them.  Well after experimenting with them for a few days, I’ve discovered a few things that I haven’t seen other people discuss.

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    1. Click the link in my blog post; it goes to the aliexpress seller where I got them for 1.99ea.
      Aliexpress is way better than Ebay. Escrow payment and registered mail tracking on every shipment.
      In qty 10 you can find them for 1.50.

  1. Well, they are not really the cheapest. The important thing is the kind of projects you make. For example, I am currently using Nokia 1202 LCD modules I bought for USD1.55 a piece (20pcs total). Great if you don’t mind some SMD-style soldering. In fact I stopped using my 16×2 alphanum modules shortly after (they are gathering dust now), the Nokia 1202 LCD modules worked more easily with 3.3V battery-powered projects (especially LiFePO4), and for prototyping, I could fit in 16×8 characters, great for protocol troubleshooting etc.

    1. New 5110 Nokia LCD modules are cheaper and far more common than 1202. While you might find used pulls or surplus 1202 modules for <$2, you won't find a steady supply of new ones for even double that price
      Mounted on PCBs like the 1602 modules, the Nokia 5110 LCDs are a bit more expensive (~$2.25 vs $1.50 in qty 10). For unregulated battery-operated devices the Nokia LCDs would be a bit simpler. A pwm-based charge pump for the 1602 modules isn't that complicated though.
      For devices with minimal flash like an Attiny2313, the graphic displays chew up ~0.5kB just for the character font. For the 1602 modules, my code to control them compiles to < 100 bytes.

      1. Most reports say 5110s press-contacts the PCB, but without a handphone casing to help, it’s not going to be reliable given most such PCB designs I saw from China. That’s why I prefer to buy them (3310, 1202) without the PCB and do a spot of soldering. But having got 20pcs of mono 96×68, these days mostly browse for color TFTs instead…

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