Take a stroll down memory lane...remember the days when Nokia was all the rage? When Keanu Reeves was using a not-so-subtly placed Nokia in the first Matrix movie?
Now you can add one of those 84x48 LCD screens to your Raspberry Pi! These screens, which were the same ones used in the Nokia 5110, are extremely inexpensive, daylight readable and incredibly versatile!
What's more, we have put together open-source software and tutorials so you can quickly get started using your screen even if you only have basic programming experience. To demonstrate what it can do, we have enabled out-of-the-box capability for 5 applications:
- GPS latitude and longitude (choose GPS receiver reward or add your own GPS receiver)
- System stats: CPU, RAM, disk usage and CPU temperature
- Network status: Wifi and Eth0 IP address
- Clock (requires internet connection or RTC to be accurate)
- Barometer (choose the barometer reward or add your own pressure sensor)
- All of the above (if you choose the ultimate reward!)
- just add £6 to your pledge to get a pre-imaged 8GB micro SD or SD card!
Once you've gotten started with these 5 uses, you can mix and match them, or create your own "apps" - we've provided the breakouts for i2C and UART so you can solder your own stuff, for example:
- i2c light sensor
- i2c temperature and humidity sensor
- an i2c real-time-clock
- UART radio modules e.g. ERF, XBee, Adafruit Bluefruit EZ-link
- a battery with i2C interface (e.g. PiJuice)
GPS Tracking System
One of my projects is an open-source GPS tracking system: a small 'tag' transmits its GPS coordinates up to several hundred metres or more to a Raspberry Pi base station with a retroScreen. I will be putting up a tutorial on my blog on aonsquared.co.uk, so you can make your own tracking system with dozens of different applications!
If you have any more ideas for applications you would like us to add, please let us know and we'll see if we can do it!
- LCD display, 84x48 pixels
- 1.5" diagonal (38.1 mm)
- SPI interface - uses pins CS0, MOSI, SCK, GPIO 23 and 24 (physical pins 24, 19, 23, 16, and 18)
- power usage: ~0.2 mA (without backlight, approximately 80 mA with backlight)
- blue or white backlight
- breakouts for i2C, UART
Some assembly required
Some light soldering is required to assemble the kit, however all the components are through-hole and easy to solder. For tips on how to solder, check out this awesome tutorial!
Even though we're still quite far from our first stretch goal, we've put some improvements to the screen anyway! We've added breakouts for slim tactile switches to the screen, which are not included but can be bought very cheaply from Adafruit, their distributors, or any electronics store.
We've also added a new script, a serial monitor! This script simply prints out any data received on the serial interface. If you plug in anything to the FTDI/UART port, or the GPS port, then it will print the raw serial data to the screen. This is useful for looking at the raw GPS NMEA sentences, and a lot of other stuff!
Current Status & Stretch Goals
As its current state the board is ready to use, however depending on community feedback we can improve it further with stretch goals:
- £10,000: automatic backlight, tactile buttons and the game snake! (only 90's kids will know ;) )
- £20,000: wireless version of retroScreen! We're already testing a prototype, but if we hit this goal we'll develop and release a wireless version!
- £30,000: case - retroScreen is pin-compatible with PiJuice, a portable battery for the Raspberry Pi. Pi Supply are also in Bristol, and we can get in touch with them to develop a case that gives you an untethered Pi with a retroScreen!
So which one would you like most? Leave your feedback in the comments section!
I'm Arthur, one of the earliest members of the Rasberry Pi community. Being one of the earliest adopters I've been on Raspberry Pi's front page twice (https://www.raspberrypi.org/robot-destroy/ and https://www.raspberrypi.org/the-dark-pi-rises). I managed to get speech recognition working on the pi a few weeks after receiving mine, and night vision just a few months after :) I'm an aerospace engineer by day and an electronics geek by night - usually I do these things for fun, but this particular LCD screen has been so useful to me and my projects that I've decided to share it!
This project has received lots of support and advice from several people such as Harry Gee (Agilic, co-creator of PiJuice), and Matt Hawkins of raspberrypi-spy.co.uk (the barometer code uses Matt's python module as a library) among many others - we're very grateful for the support!
The SPI interface is driven by Adafruit's library for the PCD8544: https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_Nokia_LCD
Risks and challenges
Since the prototypes are already working nicely (I use them myself for my raspberry pis at home) there is low technical risk with this project. We have verified the supply chain for all the parts. However if we hit the stretch goals, this could require further development of the board and cause some delays. To minimise risk, we will evaluate each stretch goal carefully for technical feasibility as well as the ability of the supply chain to cope with the modifications.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)