As you can see the display unit holds a total of sixteen seven-segment LED digits using four modules. However thanks to the use of the TM1640 controller IC…
… the entire display is controlled with only four wires – 5V, GND, data in and clock:
Here is the data sheet for the TM1640. The board also ships with the 30cm long four-wire lead and fitted plug. Finally, there is a ‘power on’ LED on the right-hand end of the board:
Now to make things happen. From a hardware perspective – it couldn’t be easier. Connect the 5V and GND leads to … 5V and GND. The data and clock leads will connect to two Arduino digital pins. That’s it. The maximum current drawn by the display with all segments on is ~213mA:
So you should be able to drive this from a normal Arduino-compatible board without any hassle. Please note that the TM1640 IC does heat up somewhat, so you may want to consider some sort of heatsink if intending to max out the display in this manner.
From the software side of things you will need to download and install the TM1638 library (yes) which also handles the TM1640 chip. To simply display text from a string on the display, examine the following sketch:
Which will display:
The sixteen digit binary number in the module.setDisplayToString() line controls the decimal points – 0 for off and 1 for on. For example, changing it to
You can also display text in a somewhat readable form – using the characters available in this list. Displaying numbers is very easy, you can address each digit individually using:
where x is the digit, y is the position (0~15), and true/false is the decimal point. At this time you can’t just send a long integer down to the display, so you will need to either convert your numbers to a string or failing that, split it up into digits and display them one at a time.
In the following example sketch we display integers and unsigned integers by using the C command sprintf(). Note the use of %i to include an integer, and %u for unsigned integer:
And the resulting output:
Now you have an idea of what is possible, a variety of display options should spring to mind. For example:
Again, this display board was a random, successful find. When ordering from dealextreme, do so knowing that your order may take several weeks to arrive as they are not the fastest of online retailers; and your order may be coming from mainland China which can slow things down somewhat. Otherwise the module worked well and considering the minimal I/O and code requirements, is a very good deal.
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