This Open Source Universal TFT Display Backpack Is Ready for Tiny TFT Graphics Library 2 Projects

Designed for use with eight- and 11-pin TFT LCD panels from Adafruit and AliExpress, this board can run on a range of microcontrollers.

Gareth Halfacree
6 days ago β€’ HW101 / Displays

David Johnson-Davies has designed a "universal" board for driving common color TFT LCD panels, offering an I2C interface for easy connection to external hardware: the Universal TFT Display Backpack.

"This project is a microcontroller board, based on an ATtiny414, that can accommodate a range of different Adafruit and AliExpress color TFT displays," Johnson-Davies explains. "While working on my Tiny TFT Graphics Library I needed to test it with several different TFT displays on a prototyping board, and noticed that many of them, with a small number of exceptions, had one of two standard pin connection layouts.

"That gave me the idea of designing a breakout board that would take any of these displays, and be a great starting point for a variety of display-based projects."

The Tiny TFT Graphics Library, which received a major update this week, is entirely compatible with the Backpack board β€” though its microcontroller can also be programmed directly, for those who'd prefer, without use of the library. True "universal" compatibility on the hardware front may be pushing things, perhaps, but Johnson-Davies has tested the board with a range of common displays from 0.96" to 2.4" from Adafruit and AliExpress with great success β€” using an 11-pin and eight-pin header respectively for each family.

"The display connection header pin holes are staggered," Johnson-Davies notes, "so you can push the display in place, and it will stay firmly connected without soldering. This is especially useful if you want to try different displays in an application. Although you could drive these TFT displays from an 8-pin ATtiny processor such as the ATtiny402, I decided to base the board on a 14-pin device, such as the ATtiny414, to allow it to offer […] additional optional features."

Those features: I2C support, to allow the microcontroller to drive an external sensor or other compatible hardware in addition to the display' optional connections to backlight and SD card select pins, brought to an edge connector if you'd prefer to use them for some other purpose; and room for a crystal oscillator for clock projects.

Johnson-Davies has released the board's Eagle design files on GitHub under an unspecified open-hardware license, promising compatibility with "any of the new 0-series, 1-series, or 2-series 14-pin microcontrollers" from the ATtiny404 up to the ATtiny3224.

More details are available on Johnson-Davies' website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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