Tag Archives: QD Tech Displays on the ESP8266

QD Tech Displays on the ESP8266

QDTECHI’ve seen a number of projects using an Arduino and an ESP8266 to drive LCD displays. You may know that my home control has used a 1284-based board (MEGA type) to run a nice Thermostat display for some time now. The displays look very pretty in the right box.

THIS article will tell you about the display but you’ve seen them on Ebay no doubt.  http://tech.scargill.net/samsung-s6d02a1-based-lcd-colour-display-and-arduino/

Banggood do the displays (I can’t help thinking the price has gone up – at £3 inc postage – but still cheap) http://www.banggood.com/1_8-Inch-Serial-SPI-TFT-LCD-Display-Module-With-Power-IC-SD-Socket-p-909802.html

Anyway, they are 160*120 and very bright and colourful displays, excellent for simple stuff.

displayI’ve always wanted one of these to run on the ESP-12… on the Arduino assuming 5v you need series resistors for the outputs – as it’s a 3v3 device internally, but with an ESP you can run them directly. So, the device and it’s backlight go straight to 5v, the 4 inputs go straight to ESP8266 pins and the reset can go to the ESP8266 reset pin – again directly.

That’s the easy part – the software not so – there are not a lot of drivers out there for this board for the Arduino – one that does work offers a choice of hardware or software SPI and that’s where the magic comes in – if you eliminate the hardware SPI code it all starts to look quite easy. So yesterday I set about (with no anticipation of success) converting the code firstly from nicely object-oriented Arduino code – to basic C – and secondly to use ESP8266 port pins. I cheated slightly by using EASYGPIO to make the port operations a little more obvious but I don’t think that has cost too much in speed.

Anyway to cut a long story short at THIS point I’m off to the coast for a couple of days sunbathing and I’ll leave you with my work in progress. I’ve NOT added in the code to handle characters/fonts yet but I HAVE got this working completely reliably – drawing boxes and lines.  Right now there is some setup data in RAM, I’ll move that to FLASH shortly (you need a function to access 8-bit FLASH arrays to stop the ESP crashing so I left that until last). Why bother with FLASH? Well, you’ll definitely need to put fonts in FLASH as they get big, quickly.

I’m assuming you’re programming in C – don’t ask me about getting this running in Arduino code or Lua.

Here’s the header https://bitbucket.org/snippets/scargill/EA9zd/qdtech-display-header-modified-adafruit

Here’s the C code https://bitbucket.org/snippets/scargill/qRbpL/qdtech-display-header-modified-adafruit

I’ll assume you already have a project running and just want to add this to it. I’ve reduced includes to a minimum..

My test includes a red screen background, a green box and a blue diagonal line. So with the includes this is all I put in my code (I slightly altered the init code to include ports (not including RST line as you fasten that to the ESP reset – hence needing only 4 port bits – you’re not stuck with my choice – the last two parameters are the screen size).

for (int qq=0; qq<160;qq++) QD_drawPixel(qq,qq,QD_Color565(0,0,255));

There it is – a starter only.. but it works – if this were taken to an extreme it would include character handling and hardware SPI – I’m guessing compared to Arduino use it would be pretty FAST..

Now if anyone wants to take this on and add the bells and whistles..

Oh and how would you run the data in FLASH? not so hard… here’s a typical FLASH-based array snippet.

static const uint8_t ICACHE_RODATA_ATTR  kelvin[] = {
        255,  51,   0, //    1000
        255, 109,   0, //    1500
        255, 137,  18, //    2000

And to access that…

// This routine courtesy Richard A Burton - way better than using 32 bit flash arrays (you can't directly
// access 8 bit FLASH arrays directly - will crash the processor)
uint8 ICACHE_FLASH_ATTR read_rom_uint8(const uint8* addr){
    uint32 bytes;
    bytes = *(uint32*)((uint32)addr & ~3);
    return ((uint8*)&bytes)[(uint32)addr & 3];

Typical use



So you can see it won’t be TOO hard to get a load of font data into FLASH – sure, it’ll slow things down a little accessing it – but how that actually affects operation is something we’ll discover in the future.